For my personal project I decided that I wanted to do something to highlight what it is like living with a Chronic Pain condition as this was something that was very personal to me and I felt that not enough was being done about it. Chronic pain conditions affect millions of people in the UK but not enough is known about it and it is one of the most under funded departments in the NHS.
For the first part of my research process I circulated a questionnaire online using survey monkey aimed a Chronic pain sufferers so I could gauge what was required. Here are the questions I asked;
Can you describe your condition in a few words?
What is the most frustrating thing about your condition?
Do you find a lack of understanding from your immediate friends/family/colleagues?
What do you want people to know?
How has your lifestyle changed/what are you not able to do?
What areas do you feel pain?
What other symptoms do you have?
Do you deal with side-effects from medications?
Would you like to find out more about support groups/alternative therapies/coping mechanisms?
Do you have any suggestions of what could be included in an exhibition space to create awareness about chronic pain conditions?
The survey gained a huge response with 169 completed surveys in just a few short days. From the results I could pick out 3 main themes that kept arising; that most chronic pain sufferers found a lack of empathy and understanding from those around them, that many suffered side effects from medications and wanted to find out about alternatives. many people were interested in finding out more about support groups too. I put this information into an easy to understand infograph.
I also contacted pain charities and organisations across the UK. David Kelly, co-founder from Away with the Pain was very helpful and gave me some good advice about what to include in my design project.
I then created an emotive object using all the research I had done to help inspire me with continuing with the project. I used the silhouette of a person which was mirrored on one side to represent invisible illness and also the fact that a chronic pain condition can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender etc. The other side had hammered nails to convey all the pain points with string pulling the person back into the cycle of pain.
One of the problems I was struggling with was how to convey pain, something that is invisible. As my sketch book was starting to look quite morbid I decided to do a photo shoot using some of the key words I had gathered doing my research. These photos can be viewed over on my website here.