I’m a third-year student and composer at the University of Toronto completing a double major in psychology and history, with an interest in thanatology. Being only 20, I am one of the younger members of the INPM. But despite the lack of distinguished awards or academic suffixes, one thing I’m certainly qualified to talk about is pain.
My brief journey on the path of pain began several years ago, when I became lactose intolerant. It took a few months to diagnose, which meant bloating, cramps, and diarrhea each and every day. That was 12th grade; supposedly a time to enjoy the freedom of driving, going out with friends, and being the oldest in school. Instead, I missed prom, semi-formal, and spent most of my days catching up on assignments.
Next were the migraines: pounding headaches that prevented any real work from getting done. Doctors suggested that I should stop watching movies and having the occasional beer, but that didn’t seem to help much. Most of my more social friends had given up on asking me to go out, knowing that my reply would be “I’d like to, but…”
More recently, my vocal cords had decided to malfunction. Specialists had come up with many causes ranging from severe acid reflux to enlarged thyroid nodules. Whatever the cause, I temporarily lost the ability to communicate with loved ones, along with the pleasure of all my favorite foods.
Yet I am still in third year, on the Dean’s list while working part-time for doctors Paul and Lilian Wong. I’m grateful that they had included me on their team and treated me as family despite these rough few years. Through the ideas of PP 2.0, I understood that my condition had given me the ability to empathize with others in pain. In addition, by turning negative life events into positive actions, my pain fueled my musical creativity.
I’ve been writing music for about a decade as a classically trained pianist, recently finishing my 100th composition. I do not aspire to become a musical legend; my compositions rather allow me to communicate and connect with others living in pain, as music can often say much more than words.
I also wish to study the nature of death anxiety and how to cope with death. Since dying is the most certain process in life, we should give it more than a passing thought. This interest, too, was inspired by my pain.
In this new age of pandemics and global warming; where suffering, and death surrounds us, now is the best time to learn how to cope with physical and psychological pain. Overcoming pain is my life story. Helping others to overcome their pain is my life mission; something I could hopefully stride towards through joining the INPM.