Best Quotes About Chronic Pain, Disability, & Mental Health

on an abstract background of mountains and sky, text reads "the best quotes about chronic pain, disability, mental health and life in general, janetjay.com"

Quotes about chronic pain & disability that inspire without being saccharine are darn hard to find!

Life with a chronic illness or disability is hard– hell, life alone is hard, and those of us with pain are carrying a heavier load than most. I think most wisdom comes from experience: the best quotes about chronic pain, disability and mental health come from those living with them day in and day out.

Do I need inspiration and motivation as much as the next girl? Sure. But a lot of the “inspirational’ quotes about chronic pain and mental health challenges are too sweet or too sappy to be helpful for my sarcastic, sardonic self. So this year, when I see the rare quote about disability that really resonates with me, I’ve decided I’m going to make a graphic for it so I don’t forget. I’ll keep updating as I find more quotes about chronic pain (etc etc) that are encouraging without being… too much. I promise, no “live laugh love” posters.

Scroll down for info on where these came from, who said them, and pinnable full-size versions of them all. Please share them with whoever you think they might help and post them wherever they might do some good.

  • Back view of a woman's head in front of a cityscape: "People don't often associate chronic illness with grief but the realization that life will never be what it was and the future is not wha tyou thought it would be, is a major loss. Dr. Ingela Thune-boyle, janetjay.com"

Lady Gaga on her fibromyalgia: “Chronic pain is no joke. And it’s every day waking up not knowing how you’re going to feel.”

If you’re talking about famous women who are complete badasses while still dealing with health shit, Lady Gaga ought to be near the top of your list!  In an earlier Vogue cover article about her life, she opened up about her struggles with invisible illness and chronic pain. She then had this to say about life with fibromyalgia:

On a moving background  of purple and teal flowers, text reads "chronic pain is no joke. And it's every day waking up not knowing how you're going to feel. Lady Gaga, janetjay.com"
(Looking for the non-animated version?)

Why not check out her “Born This Way” Foundation“? They work “with and for young people to build the kinder, braver world we know is possible.”

Selma Blair, cool canes and confidence: “I am disabled… and I don’t know what I will do precisely, but I will do my best.”

Picture zooms in on a view of Selma Blair from behind, using a cane and holding up one arm. Text reads "janetjay.com "I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken GPS. But we are doing it. And I laugh and I don't know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best. - Selma Blair"
woman on chair looks over her shoulder at page reading "my printable medical binder," janetjay.com links to free bedtime routine printables, free sleep hygiene printables, free sleep routine printables, free medical binder printables, printable medical binder, medical printables

Selma Blair has been a huge inspiration to me in how openly and honestly she has dealt with the challenges of her multiple sclerosis. (I actually wrote an entire post about how frickin’ amazing she is– check it out!) This quote comes from her very first instagram post about her diagnosis:

I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken GPS. But we are doing it. And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best.

Selma Blair

2024 update: Looks like Selma Blair’s a big ol’ bigot, which absolutely breaks my heart. That quote (and that DRESS) is still great but… damn. I don’t admire too many people; another one bites the dust.

~Janet Jay

Bukowski on Persevering Despite the Pain: “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”

on a red and black background text reads "what matters most is how well you walk through the fire. charles bukowski, janetjay.com
On a background of white wrapped presents with a tree and stars clipart, text reads "top 15 gifts that help chronic pain patients around the house, janetjay.com"
Healing from an injury or surgery? Check out this list of helpful around-the-house items that made life easier after my laminectomy!

Or limp, or roll, or stumble. Doesn’t matter how you manage to get through, as long as you do. This is another one of those “nobody who hasn’t been there is going to truly understand.” And that’s OK.

“People don’t often associate chronic illness with grief but the realization that life will never be what it was and the future is not what you thought it would be, is a major loss.”

“Grief in chronic illness. Yep, grief happens there too (and no one’s died).” That’s the title of the blog post this quote is from, written by a British psychologist with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (a connective tissue disorder). It’s great: after you finish this, you should go read the whole thing. There are easily half a dozen other quotes I could have pulled (and may still someday!) If I had found a psych person like her early on, it would have made all the difference in the world.

Back view of a woman's head in front of a cityscape: "People don't often associate chronic illness with grief but the realization that life will never be what it was and the future is not wha tyou thought it would be, is a major loss. Dr. Ingela Thune-boyle, janetjay.com"
Back view of a woman's head in front of a cityscape: "People don't often associate chronic illness with grief but the realization that life will never be what it was and the future is not wha tyou thought it would be, is a major loss. Dr. Ingela Thune-boyle, janetjay.com"
This is the horizontal version! I love the colors here.

Grieving the past, looking to the future: “I’m ready for new experiences that I don’t need to heal from.”

It’s been a hard couple of years for us all. This quote is from a self-described “Nigerian wordsmith”: check out her website! Hoo boy do I feel this one.

On a background of mountains, moon and stars, text reads "i'm ready for new experiences that I don't need to heal from. - Ehime Ora, janetjay.com"

Homer on Sweet, Sweet Rest: “There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.”

And finally, it’s time to rest. Take a sec to check out my posts about “sleep hygiene for chronic painand whether your bedroom could be contributing to your insomnia. Then download the free printables on each page to help you implement some of the tips and tricks in there and get some healthy, healing sleep. Because as ol’ Homer says:

line image of a crescent mooon and ZZZs, text reads "there is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep, homer, janetjay.com"

In conclusion: sometimes it’s a struggle to get through the damn day. We have to take time to grieve the person we used to be while struggling to find out who we are now.

Each of us does what we have to to walk through the fire. We may be alone in our pain, but sharing those experiences makes them more bearable.

And I will laugh, and do my best.

Pin the first one so you remember they’re here! Then check out my other pages of quotes and media about chronic pain, disability, invisible illnesses and mental health:

on an abstract background of mountains and sky, text reads "the best quotes about chronic pain, disability, mental health and life in general, janetjay.com"
drawing of a woman in a blue shirt and black pants on a chair with legs crossed, rocking back and forth while reading a book beside a pile of other books, text above on a torn sheet of paper reading "inspiring quotes about invisible illness, janetjay.com"
Cartoon of a woman at a desk stretching her arms over her head as a star flies overhead underneath the text "best quotes about self care, self care quotes about invisible illness & chronic pain, janetjay.com"
"top 10 inspirational quotes about chronic pain and joy to motivate you through the new year and beyond" janetjay.com
On a brown background of scribbles and a scrapbook aesthetic, text reads "for national mental health month, 6 beautiful poems about mental health & poems about chronic pain, janetjay.com"
a photo of a man in a wheelchair holding a ball, and another of a man in a special type of wheelchair, text between them reads "massacring misconceptions: murderball-- the quad rugby doc that changed how i thought about disability, janetjay.com"

Want even more wisdom and inspiration? Check out the links above and quotes below: these are from my “Best Quotes About Self Care: Self Care Quotes about Invisible Illness & Chronic Pain” page, and there’s a brand new post of 10 inspirational quotes about chronic pain and joy to motivate you, finding the good among the pain and persevering through the hard times.

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Hopefully this site will help you avoid some of the BS I’ve experienced over the last 20 years seeking treatment for my chronic pain, invisible illnesses & mental health challenges. Maybe it’ll even help you think about disability in a new way! But at the very least, I hope you learn something, and I hope it helps you feel less alone.

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