How a Photo Shoot Helped Me See Myself as More Than My Chronic Pain


I write under the name N. A. Le Brun, both on here and as an author. It’s the name I choose to write under as it takes away any view of gender, and I am gender non-binary. I’m a gender non-binary person with multiple disabilities and health conditions, who struggles daily with chronic pain. Most days, I spend my day in the most comfortable clothing I can find and without makeup on (even though I do enjoy playing with the different ways it can make me look). My general daily rules are comfort, comfort, comfort.

So when my sister, who is my carer and a professional photographer by trade, asked me if I wanted to do a test shoot with her this afternoon, at first I was a little reticent. But since I’ve done shoots with her before and I know she’s the one photographer who will understand my limits, I agreed. Especially as she wanted to try out some new techniques to use with the models she works with.

We had fun. had fun. It was a couple of hours of shooting pictures while mainly sitting down (I can’t stand for long periods), playing around with hair and makeup concepts and goofing around, the way sisters do. For a couple of hours, I put aside the pain in my hips that has been making me want to cry for the past few days. I sang along to music recorded by a friend in between poses, and I had a blast. I was reminded about all the things I can still do, even if directly afterwards, I fell asleep on the couch for an hour.

And more than that, on looking at the photos that have currently been edited (the shoot is still being edited), I see something beyond the person who lives in leggings and baggy shirts and sweaters. I see a human being, and most importantly of all, to me, I see echoes of the dancer I was in my youth. So often I forget that I am more than the sum of my conditions. Today was a day to be reminded that I’m human too.

Image Credits: N.A. Le Brun

Photos (c) Jessica Rens Photography


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