It’s not often that I write about a particular chronic condition. My work here at ChronicBabe has been focused on the idea that no matter what ails you, we all share similar experiences and can use common tools to craft lives that are truly exceptional, despite chronic illness… so talking about a specific condition doesn’t make much sense.

Except now.

Today, I want to recognize a cause that’s very close to my heart: Pain Awareness Month. It’s held every year in September, and as someone with chronic pain, it’s an important month.

An estimated 100 million Americans live with chronic pain—that’s daily, relentless, unsolvable pain. Many of us are disabled by the pain and unable to work, to parent, to socialize and more. It is a crippling burden for not just the people in pain, but all those who love and care for them: friends, family, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, health care providers and more.

So many of us want to live more satisfying lives in spite of pain, and we work very hard to do so. I’m including myself in those millions of people; I’ve had pain every day since mid-1997, and I have never given up. Despite hospitalizations, passing out from pain, radical impairments and more, I’m still striving to kick a$s in spite of pain.

Me (on the right) with fellow Illinois U.S. Pain Foundation State Ambassadors Cynthia and  April.

Me (on the right) with fellow Illinois U.S. Pain Foundation State Ambassadors Cynthia and April.

People in pain often get a bad name.

We get called lazy. We’re told it’s all in our heads. People think that we should just suck it up. But if you have any kind of chronic pain, either as your primary chronic condition or as a byproduct of some other illness, you know that people in pain are the farthest thing from lazy. People with chronic pain are some of the strongest, bravest people I’ve ever known.

Through my work with organizations like the U.S. Pain Foundation (USPF), I’ve met hundreds of incredible people who are helping change the stereotype of people in pain. They work hard, they play hard, they laugh so hard I almost tinkle myself. We have a blast together, because we are united by our experience and we share an instant bond whenever we meet—it’s a terrific community. Passionate, driven, creative, emotional, empowered and full of love.

We need your help.

Let’s band together to give our community a GOOD name, OK? Let’s work together to educate those around us about the realities of chronic pain so we can have informed and productive conversations about lifestyle, medications, legislation and more. Let’s learn to be more compassionate toward each other.

If you’d like to join the movement, I urge you to sign up to be a USPF State Pain Ambassador, as I am for Illinois. It costs nothing; in fact, you get the benefit of tons of education and materials, and even if you’re severely disabled or otherwise limited, there’s still a lot you can do to make a huge impact.

Organizations such as USPF craft activities and programs that empower the pain community while connecting and informing the nation, and there will be numerous events throughout September in every state in the U.S. You can contact Shaina Smith at USPF for more information about getting involved.

We also work together to create things like the INvisible Project, an online and print magazine featuring stories of people in pain that will inspire you, guaranteed. (I know; I’m the editor for this project and reading their stories blows my mind every time. Get your tissues ready!) There are opportunities to participate in lots of other events around the country, all year long; here’s a short list to get you thinking. USPF is always open to hearing suggestions for more events; after all, you know best what your community needs and how they’ll be able to receive and use information.

If you have more questions about how to get involved, don’t be shy! Shoot me an email or contact USPF for more information.

And finally:

If you’re a person in pain and you don’t have a good support network, please 1. join the ChronicBabe forum to meet other pain babes and 2. check out the Heroes of Healing community, run by USPF just for those of us fighting pain. You are NOT alone. You don’t have to let isolation add to your burdens… there are millions of us out there who’ve got your back, OK babe?

Thanks for taking a moment to read this personal appeal. I know SO MANY of you cope with pain, so I want to be sure you get great resources in hand, and the chance to participate in terrific events. If you have any questions, don’t be shy. XO!