Painexhibit.org is a place for people to artistically share their story of pain. One piece that caught my eye in the But you look so normal category is “Invisible Body” by Janice Feinstein. The work is a photograph taken of the artist’s back in which her muscles are all tightened and her arms are stretched over her shoulders so her fingers make scary shadows across the top of her back. The rest of her back is covered in scars. As part of the setup Feinstein says “My stance and ball of light in the mirror represents strength, power and hope.” Her stance is upright and strong, the ball of light is small but bright. The purpose of this piece is to highlight the hidden side of chronic pain that people like Feinstein live and deal with every day even though other people might not be able to see it.
One of the challenges that I face involves allowing people to experience their pain and accept it without making the sufferer constantly entertain me with their suffering. People also have this problem with me (sometimes it takes one to know one!). It can be quite burdensome on the person who needs help to be required to put on a show in order to demonstrate how needy and deserving they are, and compensate you for the help. Feinstein can tell you about her pain and that should be enough, she should not be required to show her body every time she needs proof that she does in fact have chronic pain, even though with her clothes on she looks like everyone else. Feeling this need to put on a show and beg for support can definitely delay seeking help, sometimes resulting in much worse problems.
What prevents you from asking for help?