my pain is invisible

TW: chronic pain, undertreatment, mistreatment, ableism, disordered eating, dysphoria, mental illness, sucky people about all the above


“you’re not sick” he says

“you come here

each week

and sing beautifully”

never mind that

the rest of the time

my brain is too tired

even for words

or letters

even one


“if you don’t have it” he says

“you won’t need it

and then you’ll be fine”

because opiates

are only for pain

when its really bad

never mind

that thing that crunches

when i breathe

or the clicking

in my spine

or the constant

strained muscles

from throwing up

or how i can’t

even stand up straight

and my knees don’t

bend like they’re

meant to


then there’s the pain

that doesn’t have a sound

or make it harder to move

it’s the knife in my back

in my thoracic spine

between t7 and t8

that didn’t show on the xray

just ‘that’s not significant’

because the disc was

only a little bit out of place


it’s the tenderness in my stomach

it was better before they cut it open

just to see

“don’t touch” i say

in my mind

because the teddy bear

understands me

when i hold him


it’s the lance in my groin

at least i think

i point to the same place

and they call it different things

“adductor strain”

“referred pain”

“ovarian cysts”


and now it’s

“non specific pelvic pain”

they say it’s in my head

that the nerves misfire

because they already took out

my appendix

my gall bladder

and their cuts didn’t heal

but they won’t take out

the other things

a uterus


that don’t belong to me

“you might change your mind

if you meet a nice man”

and then what?

will i want the pain?

will i want a body that’s not mine?

just to please

someone who can’t see me?

will i

suddenly not be ace

or childfree

and be unhappy?


it’s in my head

but for real

they say that the lesions

mean nothing

and i suppose

that everyone can’t see

their brains don’t hold




and they can’t move their faces

even to pretend

to smile

and their bodies

betray them too

so their doctors can yell

“you’re not trying hard enough”

when they can’t touch their toes

or make their hands meet


“your anxiety makes it worse”

“it’s just your ptsd

it will go away

when you’re all better”

is another thing

because having

a mental illness

means i can’t have pain too

or that it’s only because

my brain

sends signals

to the wrong place

and really

my stomach

doesn’t live

in the wrong place

and the pain

that came before

never existed


there’s pain in my shoulder too

and my knees

and my ankle and wrist too

on my weak side

from the migraines

it started one day

nobody knows why

i was told to lose weight

but then i was told i was underweight

and probably anorexic

and they only stopped

when my bloodwork showed only

that they couldn’t exclude



really it said nothing

other than i was still capable

of feeding myself


they don’t see

when i fall over

smash a table

lie in the pieces

waiting for the strength

to crawl back up

and fix it



they don’t see

when nothing stops it

and the pain keeps me awake

for days

and days

and ice does not numb it

and heat only burns

because it really is that bad

because i can’t even

get up

to do my stretches

and my brain

doesn’t know what they are


they don’t see

the circles under my eyes

because i hide them

with enough makeup

that it weighs on my skin

so i know not to cry

or the bruises

because they’re always

in awkward places

and nobody’s looking


they don’t see

that i take hours

just to get dressed

because i have to rest

after i do my hair

after i fix my clothes

after i do makeup

and then again


they don’t see

how even the shower hurts

the water

sending shocks up my spine

and sounds

that make my skin crawl

or rather

the sounds themselves

on my skin

they don’t understand

when i say

the pain is white

it feels like a thing in me

pushing to get out


“just get a taxi” they say

when something’s too far

because i sit

in the waiting room

and in the office

and swallow the pain

and the nausea

so they don’t see

that sitting is what hurts

and taxi drivers

don’t stop every ten minutes

so you can lie on the ground

and put your back

in neutral

and lay out flat

so pulling your legs up

doesn’t hurt

the whatever it is

and don’t forget

that buses


give you migraines

if you don’t have one


that is


or they say

“think positive”


“my cousin’s cousin did”

and you can’t tell them

that you tried it

years ago

and the other thing

and you’ve been told

there are no more options

other than make do

as you are

you will never be

pain free


but don’t take the pills

and physio will fix everything

even autism

because it’s still magic

even though

it didn’t work

and you just

do the exercises

at home

so you can say

they don’t work yet


and the chemist

when they refuse to serve you

because the migraine

stops you from writing

because you need

the pills

for the migraine

they say “see a doctor”

because that’s

an original idea

i haven’t tried that

at all

i guess

all these people

are just in my head too

or something


my pain

is invisible

but it is there

and i am doing

the best that

i know