Dear Lady Gaga: Here’s Why Your Voice About Chronic Pain Matters
Now 26, I was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a rare neurological disorder, at the age of 12. For more than half of my life, my partner in adventures around the world and journey through life has been this four-lettered orange fiery monster which causes severe chronic pain and systemic neurological dysfunction. Currently a pre-med student, I am passionate about raising awareness in regards to the true nature of chronic illness, to reduce the stigma many individuals experience daily when afflicted with chronic pain and rare illnesses.
While I do my own part in whatever way, whether it be educating people in daily life (oftentimes many doctors who are unaware of CRPS), it is from a small platform. For rare conditions there is a limited understanding, not only within the public, but even within the medical community. There is minimal impetus for news organizations to publish awareness articles that are submitted, as the health issues that affect the few are still hidden in darkness – which only contributes to further stigmatization.
But, when a celebrity such as you, Lady Gaga, has the courage to share such a personal story, it provides validation to those who may not be believed by family or friends, who have the very validity of their diagnosis questioned. It encourages those that if a multi-platinum awards selling artist has the courage to care for their health, so they can too. There is no shame in needing to care for your health. In fact, it is the strongest act one can do in life – knowing when to acknowledge that it is time for a time out.
You never asked to be the spokesperson for chronic pain, you never asked to have the specter of chronic illness hanging over your head. But with your platform, you are using an unfortunate situation for immeasurable good. I can only sincerely hope that one day in my own life I too can use my experiences with CRPS to inspire and help the lives of others struggling with chronic illness.
I firmly believe there is always a way forward, that path may be twisted and slow. but on that circuitous route the most powerful and authentic experiences are waiting to be found. For all those who are struggling today, remember to be kind to yourself, your pain is real. You are a fighter and have gotten through everyday so far and will continue to do so through strength few will ever understand. Keep hold of hope and remember to find joy and laughter in each day, for it is the small moments of daily gratitude that the magic of life shines through.
So Lady Gaga, I hope for you too that one day you to will get your own magic wand of healing. Until that time, know that in being open, vulnerable and selfless at a time you have every right to privacy… you also have the utmost respect and understanding for what you are experiencing. You are helping to shred the barriers those with chronic pain and illness experience on a daily basis, and for that I thank you.
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Photo courtesy of Lady Gaga’s Facebook page.