When I graduated from Queen’s University’s Engineering program in 2012, I was eager to start the next phase of my life. I began working at a small energy consulting firm while living in Toronto. In my spare time, I did what normal 22-year-olds do: played intramural sports, went hiking, and hit the bars with friends. On the surface, everything appeared to be okay, but I was growing worried.
I had sustained a severe muscle strain in my torso while playing basketball in 2011. When the acute pain faded, I continued to feel a dull ache at the injury site. A year later, it was still present and had begun to spread. Sitting became especially painful. I struggled to focus at work; I felt anxious, depressed, and tired. I took a leave of absence from work in 2014 when my symptoms worsened.
Things continued to go downhill. At my lowest point in 2017, I was in constant debilitating pain, spent 22 hours a day in bed, and required around-the-clock care by my parents. I was suffering from severe depression and often felt like giving up.
Thanks to the unrelenting support from my family, friends, and medical team at Toronto Rehabilitation Centre, I didn’t. I’m happy to announce that my health has improved significantly since then. I’m still unable to return to engineering work and depend heavily on my parents for help with basic tasks, but I’ve come a long way.
With my health on the upswing, I’ve been working on a new project to help promote awareness and education on chronic pain. I recently launched the podcast Discomfort Zone; a show on what it’s like living with chronic pain. In the show, I explore how I became ill, the daily realities I currently face, and the uncertain road that lies ahead. My goal for the show is to help end the stigma surrounding chronic pain, mental health, and invisible illnesses as a whole.