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By: Fela M'tima



When I was a kid, I remember women in my life talking about Frida Kahlo. They spoke about her art work and the pain she suffered. As a child, it was hard for me to even fathom physical suffering. I was able to admire her artwork, but not everything that consisted beneath it. Then in my teens, before getting diagnosed with chronic illness's, I started to understand extreme pain to an extent. This was mostly because of crippling chronic headaches, debilitating periods, and chronic random infections and viruses. But, I do believe there is difference between pain and suffering and that you don't truly understand the difference until you have suffered. Then there are the moments when pain and suffering dance around you in some sort of synchronized fashion and those by far, are the hardest to survive.

My understanding of suffering personally, can only be easily related to Frida, and her life of pain. It makes me wonder, has my life become a life of pain? And if it was, would I even be able to tell myself? Or would I suffer in the silence and denial of the true reality of living with chronic illness's? Whatever the answers may be, I'm not alone in this suffering. I wish I had the answer to how we all survive each day when we are greeted with pain when we wake and not optimism. When we then spend the entire day calculating what we can and can't do, what medications we can and can't take, and if we can get out of bed and into jeans and if so, how long will it last. Then at night, when the flare has probably reached its all time high, you get to a point where you have done everything you can to feel relief and there's a huge chance it was unsuccessful. This would be also best described as a really bad fucking day.

These days from beginning to end become a sick life test. A kind of test that you can only find in your darkest nightmares as it plays on repeat over, and over, and over. When these days are too few and far in between, that's when the suffering waves over you and drowns you beneath itself. It's more than a flare, and it's impossible to describe to someone. I hope one day, I can portray my pain and suffering the way Frida was able to. And just as I question my own power of survival, I will forever question how Frida survived it, too.