Blog Your Pain

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pain That Never Goes Away

There are all sorts of pain says artist Patricia Casey, emotional and physical. I don’t think you can go through life without experiencing either of these. Sometimes we grow through pain and often our proudest achievements have been the result of a struggle.

But, pain that never goes away is a frightening concept. I can’t imagine what that must be like: to have no relief, no respite, to have to learn to live your life in spite of it. Meditation and visualisation are techniques that many use to help manage their symptoms. Whisper is a moment of stillness, of calm. This work (see image) leads the viewer to a space that is removed from reality where one can experience an escape.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Artist Tom Carment's Bashed Critic - James Waites

Tom says,

"I was thinking of painting a portrait of someone who’d suffered a lot of pain. Myfriend James Waites fell off a cliff almost thirty years ago, nearly died and broke many bones. He mentioned to me that the pain had been ongoing.

So I rang andasked him, “Jim, would you consider yourself a person in pain?” I explained theWindows on Pain fundraiser.

“Funny you rang,” he said, “I was beaten up two nights ago on the train from Parramatta. I’ve got a broken nose and broken ribs and lots of bruises. I’m in bed recovering so I’d appreciate the company.”

I spent three mornings at his bedside. This is the second portrait. James is a theatre critic with forthright views and is not always popular because of that.

He suggested the title Bashed Critic. He’s described the portrait on his blog

“Normally, it’s meant to be the artist who suffers in the making of art, not the subject - but, as David Marr said to me once in the swimming pool, ‘You always do everything back to front, James’”.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pain and Alice's 'Shrinking World'

Chia Moan, one of the artists who is helping in this year's campaign has created an artwork - an installation called Shrinking World.

In this scene Alice has taken a pill that makes her grow and grow, finally pressing her head against the ceiling to prevent her neck being broken. She is trapped inside the house of the White Rabbit. Cramped and desperate though she is, underneath, Alice's experience is that reality is constantly being transformed.

Chia says her art is inspired by conversations with pain patients, one in particular, who said she felt like Alice disappearing down the rabbit hole with the aperture at the top growing smaller and smaller.

People who live with chronic pain deal very literally with shrinking options in their lives. If and how I can work, exercise, socialise, travel? Usual activities are affected, all subjected to scrutiny: what is possible, what is not? They also speak frequently about not being able to communicate their pain, wearing a mask.

Likewise many people move through and with their pain to re-cast reality in amazing ways with imagination and determination.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

mindfulness meditation and migraine management

I'd like to share some resources that have been immensely helpful in managing daily migraines. Firstly a set of mindfulness meditation tapes by Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT medical professor who has applied Buddhist meditation practices to the treatment of chronic pain. He co-authored a book'The Mindful Way through Depression' which has also been valuable.

A different approach, ACT therapy, is based on mindfulness meditation and is outlined in a book by Dr Russ Harris, 'The Happiness Trap. Stop Struggling, Start Living'. I hope they help you.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chronic Pain - What's in a definition?

We at Windows on Pain have been debating to arrive at the correct definition of 'chronic pain'. This is what we came up with - chronic pain is severe, persistent pain that obstructs and constricts peoples’ lives, often to devastating effect for them and their families.

Did you know that at any time, a staggering 3.2 million Australians of working age have this degree of pain? These are thought-provoking statistics! Although pervasive, persistent pain is a taboo subject shrouded in denial and aversion, and invisibility definitely limits the search for effective treatment. What do you think?