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22 Photos People With Chronic Pain Want to Post on Facebook, but Don't

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Chronic pain can manifest in many different ways. For some, the pain is visible, able to be seen in redness or swelling. But for others, the pain is less apparent and can be hidden behind clothing or a smile. Either way, opening up and sharing your experiences with pain can be scary. Posting photos or updates on Facebook can help others stay informed and support you, but it can also open to the door to judgment and hurtful comments. Although we should all feel comfortable being honest on social media about the ups and the downs in our lives, the unfortunate reality is that there is often a pressure to only post about the positives. And for those struggling with the daily battle of chronic illness, this pressure to hide such a big part of your life can ultimately be damaging to your physical and mental health.

There may be stigmas surrounding sharing details of your chronic illness online, but being honest about your day-to-day reality can be beneficial for you as well as those around you. We asked our Mighty community to share photos of them experiencing chronic pain that they want to post on Facebook, but don’t. Let’s shed some light on what it really means to live with chronic pain to increase understanding and start breaking down the stigma against being “real” with your friends online.


Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. “I’m in bits as usual. I didn’t upload it because I try to remain positive and don’t want people knowing just how much it hurts sometimes.”

woman holding a stuffed animal and crying

2. “I had a seven-week flare-up… I couldn’t move. The pain was excruciating and [I] felt so depressed.”

woman lying on her bed

3. “On days when the pain is bearable (six out of 10) but the exhaustion rules the day, my dog child and I chill in my chair.”

woman sitting in a chair with her dog

4. “Night after my last surgery, when they finally got my pain under control. I always feel judged when I post a true picture of myself. I posted a couple times the 10 days I was in the hospital, but only two photos.”

man in a hospital bed with an oxygen tube

5. “I had just gotten admitted into the hospital and was trying to stay calm and clear my mind so I didn’t focus on my pain and how fast my heart was beating. I didn’t post it because I didn’t want people to worry or think I wanted attention. There’s a lot of stigma with being open about illness online and I wasn’t confident enough at the time to deal with that, even though I needed support.”

woman meditating in her hospital bed

6. “I never post pictures of my illnesses. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t understand and most days I don’t feel like I owe anyone an explanation. Some days I need a wheelchair to get around and other days I can walk for a mile and be OK.”

woman and her boyfriend smiling at an aquarium

7. “I was at a restaurant with my son. I have RA [rheumatoid arthritis]. The struggle is real to get out and live a normal life. The pain along with the crushing fatigue.”

selfie of a woman smiling

8. “Radiation burns from breast cancer treatment. Didn’t post because I still had not made peace with my post-treatment body and I was ashamed.”

woman's chest after a double mastectomy with burns from radiation treatment

9. “My last 10 minutes of a 20-year career I had to leave early due [to] severe gastroparesis. 100 pounds lighter from pain while trying to eat and unable to get out of bed some days. I went from being a shift supervisor sergeant to deemed not dependable for work.”

man in police uniform

10. “From a recent hospital admission. My pain had gotten particularly bad and I had been up all night vomiting due to inadequate pain relief. I honestly just wanted to give up. I planned to post this picture to show how bad things really were, but ended up sugarcoating things once again and uploaded one with a smile.”

woman crying in bed with a breathing tube in her nose

11. “One year into treatment with prednisone…my lovely moonface after gaining 65+ pounds and barely recognizing myself.”

woman smiling with her partner

12. “Me about to have surgery. I don’t look sick and I’m smiling, so my endometriosis [must] not [be] that serious and [is] probably ‘all in my head.’ You know, even though the medical community determined I needed to go under the knife.”

woman with glasses about to go into surgery

13. “I have endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids and cysts. As you can see, I turned the two pictures into a meme. I never shared it. I can’t. See…in the left photo I look perfectly normal. I have zero bloating. This is what I look like every morning. Now, on the right, I am severely bloated. I have what is called ‘Endo Belly.’ In fact, in most clothes I look extremely pregnant. I look like this by the afternoon. [It] makes going out in public with a not pregnant, pregnant-looking belly really uncomfortable for a lot of different reasons.”

side by side photos of a woman's stomach with and without abdominal swelling

14. “These are the shots I have to do once a week. I’ve never posted them online because I’m always afraid that talking about my chronic conditions is viewed as trying to get sympathy. It’s not. I do get the side eye sometimes because my illness is invisible. I appear to be healthy and happy. These shots are what make my days tolerable, but most people don’t know I have to deal with this every week.”

shots of medicine

15. “Trying so hard to get through my work shift (a daily struggle). I have literally called out almost a day each week since I started. Even though I’m down to part-time now, I’m still grateful.”

woman at work wearing a salvation army shirt

16. “This picture was too personal for me to share with everyone; in it, I have a migraine that had been nonstop for three days, my whole body hurts, I have shooting pains in my muscles and aches in my joints, fever, and I can’t even remember what else. Instead of this photo, I posted a photo of my messy kitchen floor, where I had had groceries delivered because I was in too much pain to leave my dark bedroom, and I had just left them on the floor. I was trying to show people what it means to have chronic pain and illness (particularly that things like house chores get left off the to-do list for weeks on end), but I didn’t feel safe enough to show a photo of myself.”

woman in bed with an ice pack on her head and earphones in

17. “The face of a lupus and fibromyalgia fighter…no makeup, haven’t even showered in three days, but trying to care for a disabled mother, a 15-month-old daughter and keep a relationship with [my] hubby. I didn’t post because I know someone will just not understand.”

selfie of a woman's face

18. “My feet. Swollen again to the point where I can barely walk and my feet feel bruised all over. I didn’t post it because people are sick of seeing my feet on their Facebook feeds. They don’t understand it helps me document and show people what I’m dealing with regularly.”

a woman's swollen feet

19. “A pic I sent to my friend asking if my latest heart monitor makes me look fat. I have sickle cell, just had a hysterectomy and excision of endometriosis, and was released recently due to atrial fibrillation.”

woman taking a selfie on snapchat with a heart monitor on her chest

20. “This was an undoubtable 10 (I suffer from cluster headaches). I only took it to see what my eye was doing. Always makes me angry when people insist a 10 can’t be a 10 if you’re still conscious and functioning.”

selfie of a man's face

21. “This was after my total thyroidectomy. I never posted this because this was just one of 20 operations I’ve had. When you get into double digits with the number of surgeries you have from chronic illnesses, people start judging you and acting very uncomfortable.”

woman lifting a bandage to reveal a scar on her neck

22. “This was one of the first photos of me using my supplemental oxygen for my pulmonary fibrosis and scleroderma. Initially, I was embarrassed, which is why I was covering my face. I’ve now grown to appreciate the honesty and vulnerability revealed in the picture.”

woman with purple hair and breathing tubes

22 Photos People With Chronic Pain Want to Post on Facebook, but Don't
Originally published: July 5, 2017
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