“Chronic pain is currently the fastest growing medical problem worldwide. At least twenty percent of people across the globe have experience with chronic pain. So few of these conditions are understood, researched, or funded. A great number of pain disorders are invisible, leaving the person in pain feeling isolated, unsupported, or a burden to those around them. Many pain disorders are not just debilitating, they are disabling.”
Yes, both of the above pictures are of me: Jessica Lynne Martin. This visual totally shocks me and is actually difficult to see the Jessica on the right (our left.) The picture on the right was taken mere days before I hit rock bottom and on a whim flew to Colorado without telling anyone but my one close friend. I am quite positive I was pretty drunk as were my friends that night. We were twenty years old, living in our own apartment and we loved to have a good time. We drank for very different reasons though. My friends drank socially, for fun, for laughs as most young people do in their twenties. I had fun with my friends but I drank more to numb my physical pain due to my invisible illness. There was no way in my mind I could be around friends in the pain I was in: it was impossible in my reality. I truly could only hang out with people if we were are drinking which did take my mind off chronic pain until the next day. However, I even enjoyed being hung over. How crazy does that sound? I liked it because my friends were hung over as well and it was totally normal to feel sick and just lay around in pajamas, eat pizza, and laugh about the events that transpired the night before. Then the next day came and I isolated myself. I was not partying with my friends, no hangover, and my chronic pain was at a level that made me feel depressed, hopeless, and I cried in bed alone for hours wishing I was someone else: anyone who did not have the crazy disease we now call chronic pain. That picture was taken at a dark time. I was twenty years old and about to drop everything (not that I had much) and get on a plane headed for Boulder, Colorado. My pain ended up coming with me, who knew? Nothing changed, my life only got worse until the real rock bottom hit and my good friend drove me to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where my life would be forever changed.
The Jessica on the left (our right) is the truest Jessica there is: healthy, happy, eleven years older, and managing pain naturally. I am a visual person and to see this manifestation of self is astonishing. It truly is hard for me to believe this is the same person. I never thought I would even make it to the age of thirty because of chronic pain much less have a daughter and be truly happy despite pain. Clearly, I look totally different but the reason is because I am happy in the picture of myself on the left (our right): natural, alive, and holding the dream I never thought possible: my daughter, Kayci. Chronic pain is usually invisible which is truly one of the worst parts about the illness but looking at the above pictures pain is very evident. There are people who truly do care and want to help people living with chronic pain: researchers included. I spoke to someone recently from MIT who is doing a study on the effects of meditation/mindfulness and chronic pain. Chronic pain is getting noticed so please do not feel alone, not to mention anyone who would put a picture like this on the internet for the world to see truly cares and wants to help each and every one of you.
I was recently asked what helps me the most manage chronic pain naturally and that is such a difficult question to answer. When a person wants to lose weight, he or she cannot just go on a diet or take a magic weight loss pill. The only way to lose and maintain weight loss and health is by making a total lifestyle change: changes in eating, exercising, mindfulness, sleep, stress management, therapy etc. The same goes for how I manage chronic pain. I no longer even think of taking a pain pill or going to the doctor to help me find pain relief. I made a total lifestyle change: exercise, mindfulness, meditation, moderation, acceptance, distracting my thoughts from pain every time pain enters my brain, nutrition, stress management, etc etc. As always you can email me for specific tips/questions regarding my management of pain. The proof that the methods I use to manage chronic pain work are sometimes forgotten and then I see the Jessica who was spending her life searching for a cure, self medicating, and utterly hopeless and I am reminded of why I do what I do and am the person I am today. Acceptance of chronic pain and learning the tools to manage it naturally changed my life forever. I was barely surviving in the picture on the right (our left) I am now living and that in itself is a wonderful thing.