**Finale** Pain Warrior Campaign | Interview w/Jill Anne Collins

We are happy to share Jill Anne’s Pain Warrior Interview to culminate this year’s Pain Awareness Campaign

We are happy to finally share Jill Anne’s Pain Warrior Interview with everyone. This interview culminates our month long inaugural Pain Awareness Campaign which unfortunately didn’t go as planned. Still we are happy to recognize Jill; an artist, mother, daughter, and chronic pain warrior. Thank you Jill for sharing your story.

Check out Jill’s interview with us below:

Do you have a chronic pain condition?

Yes I do. It’s not something I wanted to accept but it’s very real.

What is your chronic pain condition?

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia even though I didn’t believe it was real at the time. Like many I assumed it was an excuse or an imaginary thing.

What lead up to your diagnosis (symptoms, dr visits, etc) and how do you find comfort/cope with your illness?

My diagnosis came during a general physical exam where my reactions to the doctor’s examination and the discomfort it caused him to look further into the situation. I honestly didn’t know everyone didn’t hurt all the time or struggle with debilitating fatigue.

How does your chronic illness impact your daily living?

Fibromyalgia impacts my daily life more than I sometimes realize. I like to be a go-getter and be very active as far as what I can accomplish in life. I work full-time and I’m an artist so like every person energy is needed all the time. I’ve really noticed the symptoms being more severe this last year or so and have had multiple weekends where I had to do nothing but rest when what I wanted to do was explored world and accomplish life necessities.

What (if anything) have you found/ done that has improved your symptoms?

As far as what improves my symptoms I have to say number one is hydration and number two is definitely the supplement collagen. Even now I’ve had one of the most severe bouts I’ve had in years and I can say I have not been faithful to my collagen which over time has made it big big difference. The other thing is accepting that I am going to need extra rest and not to be angry with myself that I can’t push through sometimes.

How open are you with friends & family about your illness & symptoms?

I have not been very open about having fibromyalgia with my friends or family. I’ve considered mine a mild version but can say that looking back I like to dismiss things and not realize what I’m really dealing with. Times like this weekend where I couldn’t get out of bed because my body was so exhausted and weak as well as in pain, I have no choice but to realize this is very real.

How has your chronic illness impacted your relationships?

This condition has definitely affected my ability to be available for many things with friends and family. Sometimes it’s pain, other times its energy level, and other times it’s being completely down in bed resting without a choice.

There’s so much more I’d like to do and see here in this beautiful city of Rochester and this condition has prevented me from doing anywhere close to as much as I would like. That affects friendships and relationships all the way around because life doesn’t wait.

What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of living with chronic pain?

I would say the most challenging thing about living in chronic pain is of course a pain level that can’t be gotten under control readily at all. Along with that goes with the frustration and self-doubt but it’s in your head but it’s really not.

What is one positive lesson living with chronic pain has taught you?

I would say one positive thing living in chronic pain is taught me is to be compassionate with others who live with different conditions or the same one. It’s also taught me that I can be very strong and that I am a fighter because times come when I’m not able to function but I always get back up.

What was the worst advice that you followed in relation to your chronic illness?

I think the worst advice I followed was that it wasn’t real and if I ignored it would go away. That is a path to being angry at yourself and not allowing others to even begin to understand your journey.

How do you maintain positivity despite living with chronic pain?

I don’t really medicate for fibromyalgia at this point, other than the collagen and some over-the-counter pain medicine. I used to take Lortab for it but no longer use that and seriously find the collagen supplement to help overtime. I eat relatively healthy and don’t really focus on much health maintenance but I am in very good medical shape as well maintain a normal weight and general activity.

What is your favorite way to cope with your life with chronic pain?

My favorite way to cope with my life is utilizing my Art and writing. This goes in waves just like the rest of life but I find the most Joy outside of being with loved ones and friends when I’m in my studio painting while listening to music or writing comedy and poetry. Oh yeah and then there’s Netflix.

Published by Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.

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