My favorite actress of all time, Jennifer Aniston has started shooting for a film entitled: Cake. The film is about her relationship to a person with chronic pain who dies from suicide. They each met in a chronic pain support group. I have loved Jennifer Aniston since the sitcom Friends began airing in the nineties. I have never been one of those people who idolizes actors or actresses or gets star struck but the one actor I have always enjoyed way beyond her role as Rachel in Friends was Ms. Anniston. However, I am so thrilled that she is starring in a film that is speaking of a subject I know all too well: chronic pain and sadly suicide.
My bike accident happened in the early nineties and I have suffered with chronic pain since. There was no talk of chronic pain back when I was first seeking a cure. I was not able to go on the internet and find anything that related to what I was feeling both physically and emotionally. The scar on my scalp from my brain surgery was covered with layers of brown hair, disguising any proof of the pain I was feeling. Most people who suffer with chronic pain have no visible marks. I wanted support more than anything. I wanted someone, anyone to understand what I was feeling. I had no one. I felt crazy, I truly began thinking the pain was: “all in my head.” It is now 2014 and one of the biggest actresses in the world is starring in a film that is based on chronic pain. This is huge.
The number one reason people die who have chronic pain is by suicide. I can understand this as I thought many times in my past of ending my life just to get out of pain. I shared this story once before but I will share it again. When I finally found help for accepting and managing chronic pain at the Mayo Clinic, I made many close friends as we were all suffering with the same disease. The greatest part of the Pain Rehab Center was the support groups. This was the first time in my life that I was around people who wee going through the same thing I was. They have support groups for so many things: AA, ALANON, NA, Teen Mothers, Alzheimer’s, Grief, Sex Abuse, etc. But I have yet to find (at least in my state of NJ) an on-going support group for people with chronic pain. We need to find and work on more support groups for people suffering with chronic pain. One of my closest friends in my support group at the Mayo Clinic was a woman in her thirties. She was married with two children and had been suffering with chronic pain for about a decade. We had a lot in common and had many of the same struggles. We both looked pretty healthy on the outside but were filled with unimaginable pain on the inside. Her husband came to the weekend support group for the caregivers of people with chronic pain. He was with my dad in the meetings for caregivers and it was clear he loved his wife very much. About a year after leaving Minnesota and the Pain Rehab Center I received a phone call from my friend from my pain support group. Her husband (the man who sat right next to my father) had committed suicide. He could not handle the helplessness and grief that came with chronic pain, even though he was not the one with the condition. He left behind his wife and two children. I think of this woman often even though we have lost touch. Chronic pain does not just affect the millions of Americans that have this invisible illness but the millions of caregivers and loved ones of those with chronic pain as well. I will spend the rest of my life getting word out to the world about chronic pain. I never want anyone to feel how I felt for most of my life due to my invisible illness. I want people to know that there is life with chronic pain and a good life at that. I have chronic pain and have a pretty awesome life even through my daily struggles. I am thrilled that there is a movie in the making for the thing I am most passionate about. Chronic pain is getting noticed. Do not give up hope. Your life is just beginning.