The story of Something Chronic, as told by founders Kate Matthews and Alice Horrocks…
The idea for Something Chronic developed during a conversation one day when the two of us discovered that we’d both been suffering from a mysterious condition known as ‘chronic pain’ and that it had begun at around the same time in our lives – in our mid-late twenties.
Although we experienced pain in different parts of our bodies, the stories we shared about our journeys to diagnosis and treatment were uncannily similar; the merry-go-round of medical appointments, hideous meds and the uphill battle to be taken seriously.We were both to discover that chronic pain is an underfunded and under-researched area, and that to receive appropriate treatment from the right specialists you really have to fight for it. We were also to learn that there is a problem with the wider perception of long-term pain and a skewed attitude towards those who have it. We had matching tales of conversations with both medics and people we encountered day-to-day who didn’t understand chronic pain and so couldn’t help or be supportive. Sadly, the message from the medical community tended to be “we don’t know why you’re in pain and we don’t know how to cure this condition, so you’ll need to learn to manage it.” Compounding this situation is the fact that unexplained, prolonged ill-health is often regarded with deep suspicion by society, so both of us at times faced the dismissive belief that it was all in our heads.
Chronic pain sufferers come up against these kinds of hurdles time and again, making the whole experience much harder. For us, it really helped knowing that someone else truly understood how we were feeling and had encountered the same obstacles.
This shared experience is at the heart of Something Chronic. Long term pain is incredibly lonely even if you are surrounded by supportive friends and family. It’s often hard to articulate the feeling and experience of pain so the sufferer can end up isolated and withdrawn from those around them. Loved ones can also end up feeling incredibly frustrated and powerless because they don’t know how to help.
We wanted to create a charity that not only raised awareness of chronic pain conditions but conveyed the experience of pain authentically and powerfully, so that those suffering would feel recognised and understood. To do this, we knew that the charity would need to be an arts-based organisation, as we believe that art can express, directly and provocatively, what prose often fails to. In this way, art is a great catalyst for social change.
We very much hope that as the charity grows and develops, we are able to alter the perception and understanding of chronic pain conditions, and that this will ultimately lead to pain sufferers experiencing greater support and compassion from those around them so that they don’t have to face chronic pain alone.
– Kate and Alice