The stigma of chronic pain
I had spent all day in my pajamas again, it was at least day 3. I had an event for my children I had to attend that evening so my chronic pain was going to have to step aside for a few. I didn’t shower so I would not waste valuable energy I knew I would need at the ice cream social. I finally brushed my hair for the first time in days, I settled on low messy bun so I didn’t have to waste more energy on my hair then the ten minutes it took to get it all brushed out and ponytailed up. I did my makeup while lying in bed, the energy it took to make me look presentable was almost too much. I decided on the best outfit I could that helped make me look “put together”. My thought: I can’t walk into the kids school looking as sick as I feel, so I choose to look as grand as I can.
I immediately see a friend at the event and she politely says “Wow, you look great! Your wearing wedges!” I appreciate her kindness, but I immediately feel the underlying statement of “WOW, for as sick as you say you are- You look too good and you chose heels!” My first thoughts “Maybe I should have went no makeup on, dirty pajamas, unbrushed hair and teeth?”
There is a huge stigma on chronic illness especially those with chronic pain. It doesn’t matter that I had spent over an hour slowly getting ready while still in bed. It doesn’t matter that I had been bedridden for days prior and I would be bedridden the day after for a 15 minute ice cream social.
All because chronic illness patients are circus acts walking a tight rope- we have to find the perfect balance for the paradox of looking good on the outside and even when we’re feeling awful on the inside.
We need to find the happy medium so that we do not feel obligated in anyway to look a certain way to please others. We need to be able to only focus on our health. We can change the negative stigma of chronic pain. It begins with us and will end when we can share our hidden difficulties of basic life.