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Things Not To Say To A Person Living With Chronic Pain

Friday 26 June 2020


From Australia's ABC:


Katie Brebner Griffin
"For years, I didn't feel like illnesses 'counted',
despite every aspect of my life being affected":
People living with invisible disability often feel
they have to justify why their conditions are
"legitimate", Katie Brebner Griffin explains.
(Supplied: Bri Hammond)

Things not to say to a person living with chronic pain

By Katie Brebner Griffin
ABC Life
15 June 2020
© 2020 ABC.

"It's a shame young people don't care about anyone but themselves," the lady across me complained to her friend, her eyes boring into mine.

She was clearly agitated that I'd taken a priority train seat meant for people with disabilities. As a relatively young person, without a wheelchair, cane or visible medical device, I obviously didn't have a disability, she'd decided.

The thing is, it was my first day back at work since my most recent week-long hospital admission. I'd spent five days having ketamine infused into my body to manage my chronic pain.

For the past decade, I've undergone a series of procedures to manage endometriosis, its associated pain and a chronic anorectal injury from sexual violence. The heavily stigmatised nervous system disorder fibromyalgia adds an additional layer of ongoing pain to the rest of my body, too.

I got off the train trying to ever so casually wipe the tears off my face, hoping other commuters wouldn't notice. The woman's remark played over and over in my head as I left the train station.

The woman on the train is far from the first person to assume I'm perfectly healthy because of the way I look. People do it all the time, because invisible illnesses and disabilities continue to evade general understanding or acknowledgement.

Here are a few things I wish my fellow commuters — and the rest of Australia — knew about living with conditions that can't be seen.


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