Described below is one of the many approaches I've tried or considered trying for healing my chronic myofascial pain:
BOTTOM LINE: Important when managing symptoms and for allowing time to heal.
For the four years that I worked at my career job in pain, I constantly wondered if not working would cure me. I hated the thought of giving up my successful and enjoyable twenty-two-year career, but I finally had to stop. Stopping allowed me to better manage my pain, but unfortunately, not working didn't cure me. Apparently I still have more “healing” work to do (e.g., processing past trauma) to reach my ultimate goal of greater freedom from pain (see My Healing Journey).
When pain stopped me from being gainfully employed, I felt guilty and ashamed. My company-based short-term disability—which I initially received to recover from surgery—was first extended to “partial” long-term disability because my pain hadn't gone away. Under “partial” long-term disability, I continued to work but at reduced hours. Then after four years of working fewer hours, I went on “full” long-term disability (not working at all) when my body still wasn't healing fully.
A year later the private insurance company that was supplying my disability insurance arbitrarily cut off my benefits, which I ultimately got back with the assistance of a disability lawyer and through much stress and added physical pain. Then the insurance company required I apply for social security disability because it would save them money—whatever the Social Security Administration would pay me would be deducted from what the private insurance company would pay me.
Even though social security disability is essentially taking retirement benefits early because you are unable to work (if you are below the government retirement age), there's a stigma associated with being on disability because of the small proportion of people that take advantage of the system. Many hard-working and appropriately deserving people are ashamed that they cannot work and they are afraid to apply for their benefits. In fact, many people in pain work more than is healthy for their bodies because of this stigma. There are times when pain is so limiting that using benefits that you paid into is necessary.
I've also learned it's hard to judge what disability means. Since my pain levels came down to some degree after the John F. Barnes myofascial release (JFB-MFR) intensives, I now can do things that someone might observe as inconsistent with someone who is disabled and cannot work. I can go on short jogs, for example, and I can do various things occasionally or for short periods of time, but I cannot withstand a daily routine of anything, including commuting and working. And just because you can withstand the pain for a while, it doesn't mean you can indefinitely. Plus, incessant pain can affect concentration and cognition, also affecting one's ability to work. I try not to feel guilty for being on disability. I have to override my thoughts that say I should be able to do everything. My body tells me it needs to slow down every day, but my brain still often interferes.
My healing has been a slow process, but I've learned how to respect it and not continue to push my body beyond its limits. I did that for my first forty-four years on this planet, but it turns out that approach no longer worked on a body besieged by pain that was trying to heal old wounds.