I’m Ender, and this is my tattoo. I’ve had chronic pain since I was around twelve years old. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Three weeks ago, my Mother told me she has the gene for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, that my Grandmother did, and that I likely do as well. She was right. Two weeks ago, I was diagnosed with EDS.

Every step of the way, the chronic pain and invisible illness community has been there for me. It’s remarkable. I’ve never turned towards a group of complete strangers who have responded to me with nothing but love, understanding, and open arms. When I’m having a bad day, literally all it takes is a moment to reach out, to connect, and to feel the support of this community to know I’m going to be okay.

I got this tattoo from Teresa Sharpe on the TV show “Best Ink”. She touched my heart with her own understanding, and the fact that she truly wanted to give me an amazing tattoo for being strong enough to go on the show is plain to see when looking at her work. I’ll never forget the experience.

Keep your spoons close, friends. And know that even when you feel you’re down to your last, you’ve got a spare tucked away in your sleeve somewhere.

Rock on.