Chronic pain is one of many invisible disabilities - invisible, that is, unless you suffer from it, or are close with someone who does. The statistics are quite bad; according to the Chronic Pain health report from Arthritis New Zealand, as many as one in six New Zealanders will suffer some kind of chronic pain in their lives. Some of it is permanent, some of it is debilitating. Some of it reshapes your life and you have to find new ways to live in order to survive it.
'Etched in Pain' was a session at the Auckland Writers Festival where two New Zealand authors, both who suffer from chronic pain, came together to talk about their pain and their inspiration to write about it.
Deborah Shepard began to write when a friend handed her a journal. She had just had surgery for her sciatica and was in severe post-surgical pain, but line by line, day by day, she began to "write through the fog" of pain till she had the start of her book, Giving Yourself to Life.
Written with Woe
Biographer and teacher of memoir Deborah Shepard about her own journal-memoir Giving Yourself to Life, and the significance of writing as a means to accept and deal with suffering.
Deborah Shepard is an Auckland author who teaches memoir at the Michael King Writers' Centre. Her new book Giving Yourself to Life: A Journal of Pain, Hope and Renewal, will be published by Calico Publishing.