At an 8, random passersby can tell. That's when the pain shoves all of the cope right out of my body, when I'm trembling...
At a 9, I have nerve pain that feels like someone's shoving knitting needles through my nervous system. When forced to walk, I stagger. Yesterday, I walked half a mile from the bus stop with pain spiking into 9; I actually cried out when it first hit, and made the rest of the walk clutching the thigh that was getting the worst of it as I limped home, brain utterly short-circuited by pain. Collapsed on the couch, made the post, communicated to marmota that things were Wrong - I think he was frustrated that I wasn't making sense, but he came to understand why.
At an 8, I feel as if I cannot remember ever being healthy, and feel that I will never again be healthy, and this pain will never recede, and that Elayna is the only reason not to kill myself. Adam, I tell myself, would recover. He would find someone new, someone healthy, someone to take care of him. As I wept on him later in the evening, "Maybe I'm your big mistake."
Adam disagrees. And I am not actually a suicide risk. When the pain gets below a 7, I remember that my life outside the pain is actually really good.
But above it, the pain *is* my life, throbbing ache and searing agony forever, crowding out all thought, all rationality, everything, terrible and unending.
I'm 6ish, 7ish today. Can't walk much, and I have bone-deep throbbing. But I can think straight. I can "cope up a storm", as feste_sylvain puts it. I can cope most days. Almost always, these days.