Voices Across America

Chronic Pain & Overcoming Ableist Rhetoric


State: California
Congressional District:


Chronic Pain, Gastrointestinal Disease

Issues and Challenges

Brina has encountered: Access to Medicine, Insurance Issues, Mental Health Access, Rare / Underserved Disease, Addiction / Substance Abuse, Disability, Gaslighting, Invisible Illness

My Story

My name is Brina - @brinapatelwriter- and I’m a 27-year-old writer, travel enthusiast, and bookworm from Sacramento, California.

I live with chronic pain—TMJ disorder, hip dysplasia, neck/back issues, hypermobility spectrum disorder—as well as autoimmune GI dysmotility and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Though I’ve lived with these conditions for nearly four years now (and anxiety since I was a child), I’ve only recently begun to accept them more openly. For so long, my health conditions were a source of deep and searing shame. Though I’ve been blessed with supportive friends, parents, and cousins, the opinions of the Indian community at large imprinted upon my mind to the point that I began to believe those perceptions as the truth. “You’re damaged, you’re worthless, you don’t deserve to be happy.”

My Motivation and Inspiration

Over the course of the past few years—which have had no shortage of bloodwork, scans, scopes, medications, supplements, and alternative treatments—one thing has become clear. The further I try to deny the reality of my situation, the further I seem to careen from truly living my life. I’d convinced myself that I can only feel happy if I’m 100% healthy. And not only is that absolute bullshit, but I’ve realized that it’s possible to be happy while NOT being 100% healthy. Chronic pain and illness have taught me to be a more mindful, compassionate, and assertive person. I’ve learned prioritize who and what matter in life, and to allow the rest to fade into the periphery.

To love yourself when you’re at your best is one thing. But to express self-compassion, and to realign your worth in the midst of chronic illness and disability, is another thing altogether.

Your illness and disability do not define you. Your idiosyncrasies and very nature of being YOU make this world a better place, and don’t you ever let society's ableist rhetoric convince you otherwise.

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