One of the most difficult things about pain is that it is such an intensely personal experience. The person suffering hopes that others will understand, and it’s almost impossible to make people understand something that they haven’t experienced. While everyone has personal encounters with pain in general, the difference between stubbing your toe and suffering chronic pain is enormous. Today, with new facts about fibromyalgia and more promising treatments always on the horizon, it is becoming a more compassionate world for sufferers. Likewise, there are also celebrities that take it upon themselves to help get the word out, so that people can educate themselves.
With famous sufferers like Susan Flannery or Sinead O’Connor, there is hope. Because brave and courageous women like them are willing to speak out about their own experiences, it takes some of the myth and mystery away. Moving conditions like fibromyalgia, or any chronic pain condition, out of the darkness does pave the way for those who might be suffering unknowingly, or those who know but understand that it’s very misunderstood. They also help to bring more light to other famous women, people like Frida Kahlo, who very well could have had the condition, but wasn’t living when it was accepted as a condition.
Interestingly, and very tellingly, the legacy of Frida Kahlo’s suffering is one that has haunted her admirers, and lead to a process of reconsideration of pain. The process is still unfolding and evolving, but it takes the reigns in that historical point when pain, especially chronic pain suffered by women, was relegated to the basements and attics, and placed under labels like “hysteria.” Today, most art critics would recognize that Kahlo suffered from more than muscle inflammation, but there are still disparaging comments that suggest that we have not quite left that historical dark age.
But there are signs of hope. Organizations like For Grace are directed toward redefining and addressing the misunderstandings surrounding pain, and working toward making it possible for honest dialogue and reasonable medical practices. There are also plenty of alternative health arenas where these conditions are treated for what they are, and the patient doesn’t have to feel ostracized or unbalanced. Just like the search for relief from the pain, this one is an ongoing struggle between dark and light, and on some days it does seem as though the light were starting to win.
Leave a comment