Ashley Seymour

@ashley_seymour | contributor
Ashley Seymour’s life has changed a lot in the past seven years since chronic pain entered her life. While her health struggles have become the forefront of her life right now, there are many more things about her that are much more interesting. She has a huge heart for animals and agriculture education and her favorite title she answers to is “Aunt Ashley.” She is thankful for her God, family, and friends who hold her up when things get too hard to bear alone. 
Community Voices
el

Does the cold make people’s pain worse?

Since I’ve been off in college (it’s freezing up here) my chronic pain has been so much worse. Does the cold make anyone else’s pain worse? #ChronicPain #EhlersDanlosSyndrome #ChronicFatigue

52 people are talking about this
Community Voices
el

Does the cold make people’s pain worse?

Since I’ve been off in college (it’s freezing up here) my chronic pain has been so much worse. Does the cold make anyone else’s pain worse? #ChronicPain #EhlersDanlosSyndrome #ChronicFatigue

52 people are talking about this
Community Voices

What’s one thing you’ve done in your life that makes you proud?

<p>What’s one thing you’ve done in your life that makes you proud?</p>
339 people are talking about this
Ashley Seymour

Letter to People in Medical Field Who See Someone With Chronic Pain

This is a letter to anyone who works in the medical field that comes across someone with chronic pain. I live in chronic, 24/7, 365 pain. I am not a drug addict. When I tell you that my pain is constant, I’m not saying that to be dramatic. I wake up in pain, exist in pain, go to bed in pain… I say exist because that is in fact all that I have been reduced to. Chronic pain has stolen so much from me in the past three years including my college education from my dream school, my job, relationships, my independence, some of my vision, my sanity, my happiness and so much more. I am not wearing these dark sunglasses indoors because I think it is fun. I know that when you come to check on me in the emergency room and I tell you my pain level is a 10, you may be skeptical because I am talking to people and sitting up, seemingly OK. That is not because I have a drug problem or just want your attention. If I have made the choice to make the trip to the emergency department, it is because I have battled this as far as I can on my own and have been unsuccessful in getting it under control. But when I come to the one place that I think may be able to help me, I’m generally greeted with condescending looks and disbelief. That Toradol you just ordered that I say does nothing for me? I’m not joking. I’ve given that my best shot before seeing you and when you look at me with that glare in your eye that just “knows” I’m only there for the strong drugs and tell me, “Well, it won’t hurt anything so we’re going to try it anyway” in a tone that can only be described as horribly judgmental, you make that feeling in the pit of my stomach that says “No one can help you and you will never escape this” even more sickening. I took my last emergency room trip because I lost a lot of my vision and was losing more each day. It was accompanied by my ever-present headache and the feeling of knives stabbing the backs of my eyes. I was sent to the observation floor where I was to wait to run some tests the following morning. I asked for some pain medication after being awake for over 30 hours (the pain does not invite sleep). Once I waited until shift change was over so as to not stress the nursing staff, I asked for some pain medication. My nurse, who had already pigeonholed me into the drug seeker category (per a conversation I overheard from the nurses station), said she would ask the doctor but that the only thing they had ordered for me was Tylenol. Two hours later I asked again if she had spoken with the doctor. She hadn’t and there were still no meds ordered. Another two hours later, after asking a different nurse, I was given Toradol, which has absolutely no effect on the pain for me. I was told that the MRI and angiogram came back completely normal yet again, and my mom and I couldn’t help but just sit there and sob. We had been praying for anything to be wrong so that I could maybe finally have a reason for the years I’ve spent clawing my way to the end of every day. Every doctor that spoke to me to me told me to “be thankful it isn’t worse” or something to that effect. Let me tell you, when you are trapped in a body that is only 23 but you have the limitations of someone much older but no reason, no treatment plan, no doctor that is even interested in attempting to treat you, and no sign of it ever ending, there are few things that feel worse. It feels like I have been trapped in this body with a life sentence of constant, slow torture. I take advantage of the days when I am able to function somewhat normally, but those days are not without pain nor payment. If I use too much energy one day, the next day my body is sure to let me know. I don’t sleep well anymore and sometimes I don’t sleep at all. I don’t make plans with people often because I usually have to cancel, not that I have many friends left anyway. I will be forever grateful for the one friend in my life who is so patient and understanding. Those people are few and far between. There are many days, though, that the best I can do is draw the curtains and sit in a dark room with Netflix for company. So to the nurse who treated me like a drug seeker, I know it is hard to grasp that someone could live like this with no explanation and it actually be a real thing. It’s hard for me to understand, too. I know you come across some people who really are just coming to see you to abuse drugs. But before you become calloused and cold, maybe try putting yourself in my shoes for a moment and think about the position you are in. I don’t know what your life looks like at the end of your shift, but I do know that you still have the ability to hold a job. Me? I’ll still be stuck here. Stuck in this body that betrays me every single day of my life. Stuck in pain. Stuck in the same part of my life because I no longer have the ability to move forward. And thanks to you, I’ll be stuck feeling like I have nowhere to turn for help and stuck feeling so alone I think I might actually implode on myself. I hate the fact that I am afraid to be honest about how I’m feeling to the medical professionals that should be treating me because I know I will promptly be stuck in the “drug seeker” box. And you are to blame for that. The people who come in abusing drugs are to blame. This broken word is to blame. The patient lying in that uncomfortable bed with the blindfold on because the light is too painful to bear who has already spent hours or even days putting off this visit trying to deal with it on her own? That is the person who will end up taking the fall for it. So yes, I guess I am coming to see you for the morphine. I’ve run out of alternatives. That doesn’t mean that what I feel isn’t real and it doesn’t give you an excuse to dismiss me. That does not mean that I am an addict, but when I am refused help from the one place that should be a safe place to ask for it, I do start to sympathize with the pain patient that ends up addicted to heroin. This is an incredibly lonely road and support is not freely given. I am not weak. I am not being dramatic. I am not here for the attention. I am not here because it’s a fun activity. I am quite possibly one of the strongest people you have ever met. But I am here for help. And yes, I’m here for the morphine. The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Ashley Seymour

Letter to People in Medical Field Who See Someone With Chronic Pain

This is a letter to anyone who works in the medical field that comes across someone with chronic pain. I live in chronic, 24/7, 365 pain. I am not a drug addict. When I tell you that my pain is constant, I’m not saying that to be dramatic. I wake up in pain, exist in pain, go to bed in pain… I say exist because that is in fact all that I have been reduced to. Chronic pain has stolen so much from me in the past three years including my college education from my dream school, my job, relationships, my independence, some of my vision, my sanity, my happiness and so much more. I am not wearing these dark sunglasses indoors because I think it is fun. I know that when you come to check on me in the emergency room and I tell you my pain level is a 10, you may be skeptical because I am talking to people and sitting up, seemingly OK. That is not because I have a drug problem or just want your attention. If I have made the choice to make the trip to the emergency department, it is because I have battled this as far as I can on my own and have been unsuccessful in getting it under control. But when I come to the one place that I think may be able to help me, I’m generally greeted with condescending looks and disbelief. That Toradol you just ordered that I say does nothing for me? I’m not joking. I’ve given that my best shot before seeing you and when you look at me with that glare in your eye that just “knows” I’m only there for the strong drugs and tell me, “Well, it won’t hurt anything so we’re going to try it anyway” in a tone that can only be described as horribly judgmental, you make that feeling in the pit of my stomach that says “No one can help you and you will never escape this” even more sickening. I took my last emergency room trip because I lost a lot of my vision and was losing more each day. It was accompanied by my ever-present headache and the feeling of knives stabbing the backs of my eyes. I was sent to the observation floor where I was to wait to run some tests the following morning. I asked for some pain medication after being awake for over 30 hours (the pain does not invite sleep). Once I waited until shift change was over so as to not stress the nursing staff, I asked for some pain medication. My nurse, who had already pigeonholed me into the drug seeker category (per a conversation I overheard from the nurses station), said she would ask the doctor but that the only thing they had ordered for me was Tylenol. Two hours later I asked again if she had spoken with the doctor. She hadn’t and there were still no meds ordered. Another two hours later, after asking a different nurse, I was given Toradol, which has absolutely no effect on the pain for me. I was told that the MRI and angiogram came back completely normal yet again, and my mom and I couldn’t help but just sit there and sob. We had been praying for anything to be wrong so that I could maybe finally have a reason for the years I’ve spent clawing my way to the end of every day. Every doctor that spoke to me to me told me to “be thankful it isn’t worse” or something to that effect. Let me tell you, when you are trapped in a body that is only 23 but you have the limitations of someone much older but no reason, no treatment plan, no doctor that is even interested in attempting to treat you, and no sign of it ever ending, there are few things that feel worse. It feels like I have been trapped in this body with a life sentence of constant, slow torture. I take advantage of the days when I am able to function somewhat normally, but those days are not without pain nor payment. If I use too much energy one day, the next day my body is sure to let me know. I don’t sleep well anymore and sometimes I don’t sleep at all. I don’t make plans with people often because I usually have to cancel, not that I have many friends left anyway. I will be forever grateful for the one friend in my life who is so patient and understanding. Those people are few and far between. There are many days, though, that the best I can do is draw the curtains and sit in a dark room with Netflix for company. So to the nurse who treated me like a drug seeker, I know it is hard to grasp that someone could live like this with no explanation and it actually be a real thing. It’s hard for me to understand, too. I know you come across some people who really are just coming to see you to abuse drugs. But before you become calloused and cold, maybe try putting yourself in my shoes for a moment and think about the position you are in. I don’t know what your life looks like at the end of your shift, but I do know that you still have the ability to hold a job. Me? I’ll still be stuck here. Stuck in this body that betrays me every single day of my life. Stuck in pain. Stuck in the same part of my life because I no longer have the ability to move forward. And thanks to you, I’ll be stuck feeling like I have nowhere to turn for help and stuck feeling so alone I think I might actually implode on myself. I hate the fact that I am afraid to be honest about how I’m feeling to the medical professionals that should be treating me because I know I will promptly be stuck in the “drug seeker” box. And you are to blame for that. The people who come in abusing drugs are to blame. This broken word is to blame. The patient lying in that uncomfortable bed with the blindfold on because the light is too painful to bear who has already spent hours or even days putting off this visit trying to deal with it on her own? That is the person who will end up taking the fall for it. So yes, I guess I am coming to see you for the morphine. I’ve run out of alternatives. That doesn’t mean that what I feel isn’t real and it doesn’t give you an excuse to dismiss me. That does not mean that I am an addict, but when I am refused help from the one place that should be a safe place to ask for it, I do start to sympathize with the pain patient that ends up addicted to heroin. This is an incredibly lonely road and support is not freely given. I am not weak. I am not being dramatic. I am not here for the attention. I am not here because it’s a fun activity. I am quite possibly one of the strongest people you have ever met. But I am here for help. And yes, I’m here for the morphine. The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Ashley Seymour

Letter to People in Medical Field Who See Someone With Chronic Pain

This is a letter to anyone who works in the medical field that comes across someone with chronic pain. I live in chronic, 24/7, 365 pain. I am not a drug addict. When I tell you that my pain is constant, I’m not saying that to be dramatic. I wake up in pain, exist in pain, go to bed in pain… I say exist because that is in fact all that I have been reduced to. Chronic pain has stolen so much from me in the past three years including my college education from my dream school, my job, relationships, my independence, some of my vision, my sanity, my happiness and so much more. I am not wearing these dark sunglasses indoors because I think it is fun. I know that when you come to check on me in the emergency room and I tell you my pain level is a 10, you may be skeptical because I am talking to people and sitting up, seemingly OK. That is not because I have a drug problem or just want your attention. If I have made the choice to make the trip to the emergency department, it is because I have battled this as far as I can on my own and have been unsuccessful in getting it under control. But when I come to the one place that I think may be able to help me, I’m generally greeted with condescending looks and disbelief. That Toradol you just ordered that I say does nothing for me? I’m not joking. I’ve given that my best shot before seeing you and when you look at me with that glare in your eye that just “knows” I’m only there for the strong drugs and tell me, “Well, it won’t hurt anything so we’re going to try it anyway” in a tone that can only be described as horribly judgmental, you make that feeling in the pit of my stomach that says “No one can help you and you will never escape this” even more sickening. I took my last emergency room trip because I lost a lot of my vision and was losing more each day. It was accompanied by my ever-present headache and the feeling of knives stabbing the backs of my eyes. I was sent to the observation floor where I was to wait to run some tests the following morning. I asked for some pain medication after being awake for over 30 hours (the pain does not invite sleep). Once I waited until shift change was over so as to not stress the nursing staff, I asked for some pain medication. My nurse, who had already pigeonholed me into the drug seeker category (per a conversation I overheard from the nurses station), said she would ask the doctor but that the only thing they had ordered for me was Tylenol. Two hours later I asked again if she had spoken with the doctor. She hadn’t and there were still no meds ordered. Another two hours later, after asking a different nurse, I was given Toradol, which has absolutely no effect on the pain for me. I was told that the MRI and angiogram came back completely normal yet again, and my mom and I couldn’t help but just sit there and sob. We had been praying for anything to be wrong so that I could maybe finally have a reason for the years I’ve spent clawing my way to the end of every day. Every doctor that spoke to me to me told me to “be thankful it isn’t worse” or something to that effect. Let me tell you, when you are trapped in a body that is only 23 but you have the limitations of someone much older but no reason, no treatment plan, no doctor that is even interested in attempting to treat you, and no sign of it ever ending, there are few things that feel worse. It feels like I have been trapped in this body with a life sentence of constant, slow torture. I take advantage of the days when I am able to function somewhat normally, but those days are not without pain nor payment. If I use too much energy one day, the next day my body is sure to let me know. I don’t sleep well anymore and sometimes I don’t sleep at all. I don’t make plans with people often because I usually have to cancel, not that I have many friends left anyway. I will be forever grateful for the one friend in my life who is so patient and understanding. Those people are few and far between. There are many days, though, that the best I can do is draw the curtains and sit in a dark room with Netflix for company. So to the nurse who treated me like a drug seeker, I know it is hard to grasp that someone could live like this with no explanation and it actually be a real thing. It’s hard for me to understand, too. I know you come across some people who really are just coming to see you to abuse drugs. But before you become calloused and cold, maybe try putting yourself in my shoes for a moment and think about the position you are in. I don’t know what your life looks like at the end of your shift, but I do know that you still have the ability to hold a job. Me? I’ll still be stuck here. Stuck in this body that betrays me every single day of my life. Stuck in pain. Stuck in the same part of my life because I no longer have the ability to move forward. And thanks to you, I’ll be stuck feeling like I have nowhere to turn for help and stuck feeling so alone I think I might actually implode on myself. I hate the fact that I am afraid to be honest about how I’m feeling to the medical professionals that should be treating me because I know I will promptly be stuck in the “drug seeker” box. And you are to blame for that. The people who come in abusing drugs are to blame. This broken word is to blame. The patient lying in that uncomfortable bed with the blindfold on because the light is too painful to bear who has already spent hours or even days putting off this visit trying to deal with it on her own? That is the person who will end up taking the fall for it. So yes, I guess I am coming to see you for the morphine. I’ve run out of alternatives. That doesn’t mean that what I feel isn’t real and it doesn’t give you an excuse to dismiss me. That does not mean that I am an addict, but when I am refused help from the one place that should be a safe place to ask for it, I do start to sympathize with the pain patient that ends up addicted to heroin. This is an incredibly lonely road and support is not freely given. I am not weak. I am not being dramatic. I am not here for the attention. I am not here because it’s a fun activity. I am quite possibly one of the strongest people you have ever met. But I am here for help. And yes, I’m here for the morphine. The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Community Voices
Ashley Seymour

Using Guilt to Help Someone With a Mental Illness

Sam: Do you know what this has been like for me?! We thought you were dead! After 10 years we had a funeral! Your name is on a headstone! Corinne: It’s not about you. Sam: How could it be? It’s always been about you!…. Sam: Hey… look can I talk to you for a minute? I just wanted to apologize for this morning. I didn’t mean to yell. Corinne: But you did. Because you are the selfish one. For the last 20 years everything in my head… it’s been big and bold. No whispers, just screams… and I tried to deal with it. I felt responsible. I thought it was me… but you know what Sam, I’m sick. I’m the one with bipolar disorder. So you can complain all you want about how worried you were and how worried mom was, and I feel bad about that, I really do, but I was living it. And I protected you from the worst of it. While you were in med school, I did my first stent in jail. And while you were off being a big fancy doctor, I was eating garbage so I could have enough money for drugs because that was the only way to escape the pain. And while you were having a family and living in Malibu, I was selling my body just to survive. So… you missed me. Poor you. This isn’t your journey. It’s mine. It is my pathetic life, and you might hate me but guess what Sam, I hate me more. And I could tell you to go to hell, but having lived there the past 20 years, I’m pretty sure you can’t handle it. So screw you. When I first watched this scene from “Private Practice” (S5 E15), this exchange between the recently reunited siblings really resonated with me. When someone very close to me said, “I don’t want us to be on this roller coaster for the rest of our lives,” I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s no secret that I struggle with mental illness. While I don’t deal with bipolar disorder specifically, my combo of anorexia, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) makes for quite a cocktail of hell inside my head. I know that my struggles affect those around me. I know it’s hard for my family; like Corinne, I feel bad about that. But at the end of the day, this is my hell. I am so sorry I worry the people I love. I’m sure it’s hard to watch from the outside. But it’s harder living it. No matter how much you sympathize, you don’t know what it’s like to spend nights alone, praying to fall asleep so that the voice in your head telling you the world would be a better place without you might finally shut up, at least until tomorrow. It’s never quiet for long. You’re not the one who has to force herself into the shower only to force yourself back out because the thought of getting dressed again seems like a lot of work and it feels better under the spray of hot water. No matter how much you try to understand why it’s so hard for me to look in the mirror and see a body my brain tells me is all wrong, you can’t. You don’t really know what it’s like to feel guilty for every calorie that enters your body or how loud the thoughts are, one voice arguing that I should allow myself what I need to keep living, another screaming I made a huge mistake thinking I deserve that bite. How I feel like a failure if I gain weight and still feel like a failure if I don’t. How this internal war never stops. You don’t live the pain of desperately wanting to be a different person because you feel like no one around you deserves your negativity, your drama, your issues. The pain of finally convincing yourself to get out and spend time with other humans, but feeling guilty for not being normal and happy, as if your pain is contagious. You can’t feel the exhaustion I feel, but lack the ability to fall asleep. You can’t imagine the shame of being my age, seeing your peers starting careers and families, yet being trapped in your own mind with no way out. You haven’t experienced the embarrassment of trying so hard to do the normal things, like get a degree or a job, and failing over and over. You don’t live in the despair of looking at your future and seeing absolutely nothing, seeing a vast, empty, void that leaves you wondering if there will ever be a day you don’t feel this way; knowing that if history is any indication, this is just your life. You don’t know how terrifying it is to ask for help because, while your brain is obviously not well, there is still a competent side to you that knows once you’re labeled a “psych case,” everything else becomes irrelevant; the chances of getting help for any physical problem plummets from slim to minuscule because all physical symptoms from then on will be filed under “Anxiety“. Your lack of understanding isn’t your fault. In fact, I thank God every day that you’re not on this roller coaster with me. I don’t wish this hell on anyone. But the reality is, even though my illness hurts you, you can’t guilt me into getting better. There is no shortage of guilt here to begin with. If a switch existed that would allow me to look at external factors and reboot everything internally, making things easier on everyone else, I would have flipped it ages ago. Please remember that as painful as this is for you, it is exponentially more painful for me. It’s not my intention to drag you through this mess, so please take care of yourself; I can assure you, I am trying my damnedest to keep fighting.

Ashley Seymour

Using Guilt to Help Someone With a Mental Illness

Sam: Do you know what this has been like for me?! We thought you were dead! After 10 years we had a funeral! Your name is on a headstone! Corinne: It’s not about you. Sam: How could it be? It’s always been about you!…. Sam: Hey… look can I talk to you for a minute? I just wanted to apologize for this morning. I didn’t mean to yell. Corinne: But you did. Because you are the selfish one. For the last 20 years everything in my head… it’s been big and bold. No whispers, just screams… and I tried to deal with it. I felt responsible. I thought it was me… but you know what Sam, I’m sick. I’m the one with bipolar disorder. So you can complain all you want about how worried you were and how worried mom was, and I feel bad about that, I really do, but I was living it. And I protected you from the worst of it. While you were in med school, I did my first stent in jail. And while you were off being a big fancy doctor, I was eating garbage so I could have enough money for drugs because that was the only way to escape the pain. And while you were having a family and living in Malibu, I was selling my body just to survive. So… you missed me. Poor you. This isn’t your journey. It’s mine. It is my pathetic life, and you might hate me but guess what Sam, I hate me more. And I could tell you to go to hell, but having lived there the past 20 years, I’m pretty sure you can’t handle it. So screw you. When I first watched this scene from “Private Practice” (S5 E15), this exchange between the recently reunited siblings really resonated with me. When someone very close to me said, “I don’t want us to be on this roller coaster for the rest of our lives,” I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s no secret that I struggle with mental illness. While I don’t deal with bipolar disorder specifically, my combo of anorexia, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) makes for quite a cocktail of hell inside my head. I know that my struggles affect those around me. I know it’s hard for my family; like Corinne, I feel bad about that. But at the end of the day, this is my hell. I am so sorry I worry the people I love. I’m sure it’s hard to watch from the outside. But it’s harder living it. No matter how much you sympathize, you don’t know what it’s like to spend nights alone, praying to fall asleep so that the voice in your head telling you the world would be a better place without you might finally shut up, at least until tomorrow. It’s never quiet for long. You’re not the one who has to force herself into the shower only to force yourself back out because the thought of getting dressed again seems like a lot of work and it feels better under the spray of hot water. No matter how much you try to understand why it’s so hard for me to look in the mirror and see a body my brain tells me is all wrong, you can’t. You don’t really know what it’s like to feel guilty for every calorie that enters your body or how loud the thoughts are, one voice arguing that I should allow myself what I need to keep living, another screaming I made a huge mistake thinking I deserve that bite. How I feel like a failure if I gain weight and still feel like a failure if I don’t. How this internal war never stops. You don’t live the pain of desperately wanting to be a different person because you feel like no one around you deserves your negativity, your drama, your issues. The pain of finally convincing yourself to get out and spend time with other humans, but feeling guilty for not being normal and happy, as if your pain is contagious. You can’t feel the exhaustion I feel, but lack the ability to fall asleep. You can’t imagine the shame of being my age, seeing your peers starting careers and families, yet being trapped in your own mind with no way out. You haven’t experienced the embarrassment of trying so hard to do the normal things, like get a degree or a job, and failing over and over. You don’t live in the despair of looking at your future and seeing absolutely nothing, seeing a vast, empty, void that leaves you wondering if there will ever be a day you don’t feel this way; knowing that if history is any indication, this is just your life. You don’t know how terrifying it is to ask for help because, while your brain is obviously not well, there is still a competent side to you that knows once you’re labeled a “psych case,” everything else becomes irrelevant; the chances of getting help for any physical problem plummets from slim to minuscule because all physical symptoms from then on will be filed under “Anxiety“. Your lack of understanding isn’t your fault. In fact, I thank God every day that you’re not on this roller coaster with me. I don’t wish this hell on anyone. But the reality is, even though my illness hurts you, you can’t guilt me into getting better. There is no shortage of guilt here to begin with. If a switch existed that would allow me to look at external factors and reboot everything internally, making things easier on everyone else, I would have flipped it ages ago. Please remember that as painful as this is for you, it is exponentially more painful for me. It’s not my intention to drag you through this mess, so please take care of yourself; I can assure you, I am trying my damnedest to keep fighting.