My name is Molly and I am 21 years old. When I was eleven, I developed CRPS. My parents and I pursued a very invasive medical treatment, including painful nerve blocks adjacent to my spine that I was awake for. I realize now how traumatic this course of treatment was for me at such a young age. I did achieve remission from my CRPS, but I didn’t learn how to heal from my pain in a way that felt good to my body. In high school, I developed wide-spread chronic pain, particularly in the form of headaches that was worsened by the stress of dealing with a mental health condition that was unmanaged. I was hospitalized three times and I often felt like everything was hopeless. It was a long journey to learn how to manage my mental health, with both medication and studious self-care, but I am back to my full self.  

I firmly believe that my mental health and my chronic pain are closely tied and what helps my mental health helps my chronic pain. I am an avid knitter and crocheter and have at least three projects going at one time. I find it helpful to walk or hike on horse trails, particularly with my dog. When I start feeling my muscles tense up, a good long hot shower helps ease my pain. I’ve found that managing my mental health with self-care is key to managing my chronic pain. I encourage others living with chronic pain to prioritize their mental health, as much as your pain is in your body, it also lives in your brain. You are the expert on your pain and you should find people, particularly in your treatment team, that believe that.  

I have rediscovered how much hope there is in my life and I am very excited about my future. I am a pre-med student going into my senior year of college. I’m majoring in Biopsychology (B.S.). I am a volunteer for a crisis line and I presented C. Elegans neurobiology research at a well-known regional C. Elegans conference. I am hoping to attend medical school and become a child and adolescent psychiatrist for kids with chronic pain or a pediatric neurologist.  

What do I want others to know about my pain? Just because my pain gets worse with stress, doesn’t mean it’s something I create or choose to have.