In America, September is known as Pain Awareness Month. I first encountered it in 2006/2007 on a trip to Colorado, and I really liked the idea. It stuck in my mind for the years following, while I was recovering from a bad relapse and as soon as I felt healthy enough I decided to expropriate the idea and bring it to New Zealand.
At the time there was very limited understanding and awareness of Chronic Pain conditions. I thought Painmonth could be used to increase awareness and encourage conversation about Chronic Pain for those who live with it, their health professionals, families and friends. All of the people I knew with Chronic Pain were very artistic, as I was, so I settled on an art competition. There’s still a taboo on pain and openly talking about it, and the general kiwi reaction to hearing about someone being in pain is “harden up,” or something similarly comforting
We’re trying to help people to understand the difference between Acute Pain, which everyone experiences with an injury; and Chronic Pain, pain that is caused by damage to the central nervous system or the nociceptors (nerve endings) themselves, which is ongoing, unrelenting and unpredictable. Having a Chronic Pain condition involves more than just being in pain. It messes with your energy levels, your sleep, your memory, your social life, what you can eat and what you can wear among other things.
The theme this year is “The Soul Within” Entries have to fit to the theme, and to the overall purpose which is to explore the different sides of living with a Chronic Pain disorder. You can create in any medium, any style you like and everyone who has a relationship with chronic pain can enter. These conditions don’t just affect those afflicted with them, they affect family and friends as well. They deserve a voice just as much as we do.
The entries will be uploaded to the site at the end of the day they are received; and open for voting the next day. You can vote on this site or our facebook page. (add link) the piece that gets the most votes at the end of the day gets a daily prize, and the piece with the most overall votes at the end of the competition wins the Peoples Choice award. At the end of the competition we’re having a silent auction and possibly a short exhibition at Hard Luck Café on Karangahape Road, where the winners and those pieces offered for auction will be displayed and then sold. On the final night we’ll have performances from musicians and dancers, and the artists of the pieces which get sold can choose the charity the proceeds go to. So far we’ve raised over $1500, and I’m looking forward to raising more so we can give our overworked system some assistance.