Having chronic pain and being unemployed is complicated. The actual job search is demoralising, yes, but there’s more to it than that. It’s realising that, without work draining so much of my energy, I’m eating more healthily, exercising more (re-gaining important ground in terms of core strength) and losing weight (which sounds like vanity but every little counts on a tiny, broken musculoskeletal structure like mine). It’s having the energy to do a bit of housework. It’s also realising I’d better job search from my desk or I will lose vital muscle support that I’ll need to keep me upright in a new job and that I have to stop seeing my osteopath until I have a new salary though. Most of all, it’s being in less pain. Even though the negative stress of being out of work makes the pain I’m in more intense, my activities are better for me so the negative stress effect isn’t outweighing them. (Incidentally, I define positive stress as the day to day high of dealing with the normal pressures and deadlines of being a solicitor. I thrive on that so it doesn’t increase the pain. If anything, it distracts me from it, although continuously ignoring the rising tide of pain in this way is dangerous and categorically not a recommended way of dealing with chronic pain.) Even taking the time to bask in the sunshine is a part of my physical recuperation. The long winter was hell on me, wave after wave of spasms running through the muscles in my back, neck and shoulders in response to the cold. When I’m in the sun and the heat seeps into my bones, my muscles are as relaxed, and as pain-free as a result, as they ever get. Less pain. More energy. I’m still in pain but there’s less of it. I’m getting glimpse of a better quality of life, in many respects. It’s going to take mental strength to start a new job when I eventually find one because these things are an absolute bloody luxury but that’s what I want, as well as need. I want to work. I want to use the skills which are both innate and learned. I want (and the doctors have made it clear this really can’t be negotiable), a better quality of life but I can’t actually cope mentally or emotionally with so much mental inactivity. The lack of income scares me but the lack of actual work is what is ultimately driving me just as much. My body is thankful for the break but my brain really needs more now, please.