I watched Lady Gaga’s Netflix documentary this weekend. I’ve always admired her honesty, her openness and her vocal skills, but mainly I was motivated to watch it because I heard it featured some footage of her dealing with chronic pain.
Chronic pain exists behind the scenes for a lot of people, hidden in bedrooms and bathtubs, acknowledged only behind closed doors. That’s certainly true for me. Even though it’s something I’ve lived with every day for eight years, it’s not something I’ve really seen or witnessed in other people — or allowed others to see in me.
I don’t know what chronic pain looks like for other people. I only know mine. I don’t know how other people cope with it or react to it. Do they wrap themselves in heating pads and blankets at the end of the day? Do they lie on the floor when friends come over because they can’t sit on the couch without crippling pain? I don’t know. I only know what I do. And sometimes what I do makes me feel like an odd person, someone who other people don’t really understand.
Lady Gaga’s documentary gave me a glimpse into her chronic pain world. Watching her behind-the-scenes moments made me feel … normal. Watching her made me realize that the problem with hiding my own chronic pain is that other people with chronic pain can’t see it. I’m hiding it from “normal” people, but in doing so, I’m also hiding it from the people who need to see it, the people who need to know they’re not alone.