Metaphorically, my 1994 brain injury had for decades induced in me not any pain, yet perhaps an experience more aptly described as suffering. My metaphor has become a childhood story of how each summer I invariably got poison ivy.

Oozing, discolored, puss filled ripples of oily blistering epidermis bubbles grew in protrusions of flesh from my arm’s normal skin limitrophe; subsequent to each time I ventured to scrounge in the detritus with my trusty canids.

The boils were agonizing not in accordance with any typical definition of pain, however, and the sensation was more appropriately to be described as a suffering which I now make use of when explaining why mental illness was not painful for me.

Eventually, I discovered that making a paste of laundry soap powder and water and then slathering myself with it was the only adequate method of combatting the chemistry of the oils amidst my immune system response… during the terrible days whilst awaiting the efficacies of Dr. Kopp’s prescription steroid pills.

Still, to differentiate between pain and suffering in cases of extreme poison ivy and mental health: scratching my skin off was often a welcome pain remedy for the itch. And the sting of the paste upon my bleeding arms and legs was much preferred to the itch. Then, the soap paste and pain would dry my skin and I would experience hours of relief… Until the oil and immune system puss response ooze, somehow persisting within me, would return, with the intolerable itch, and I would again rise from the protective layer of paper upon my bed and proceed with my experimental bathing procedures once again.

So, my succinct summary of pain as opposed to suffering, having now emerged from decades of mental illness, is that agony is often not pain at all. Suffering is often more akin to other than badly stubbing a toe, or to a blade or sandpaper injury with the salt of perspiration, and, believe me, I understand the true stories of how certain mental patients suffer so profoundly that, yes, I admit it here; some have even been heard to stab their quadriceps viciously with a pen, etcetera, simply to have pain to replace the agony.

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