Invisible Pain | Documentary Idea

by Mary Miller
(Eugene, OR, Lane)

There are so many people walking around in the US living a double life of pain and suffering of chronic illness and diseases, that they end up being referred to mostly, as "women's conditions." We have issues getting doctors assuming that we are drug seekers, chronic complainers, hypochondriacs, or malingerers.

As a person who's often seen as 'fine', having: cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, CFIDS, diverticulitis, constant tendonitis of both elbows and complex regional pain syndrome, there is an 'underworld' of those of us, who find each other, trying to find solace.

One gentleman contacted me about his wife wanting to die because of the severity of her pain, having no answers or anywhere to go, posted on my wall his compassion, his anger and her wish.

I am in contact with various groups on Facebook who talk, yell, laugh and yes, cry about their inability to sleep, their family's demands that they feel pulled to do, even when they themselves are in levels of pain that they want to literally hit a wall.

Our stories are important, books have been written about our experiences, but I've yet to see a documentary about US, (not about doctor's opinions on how to deal with chronic pain), the journey we face once diagnosed, the family's interaction with us/or with outside society and us (showing the protection some family members begin to fight our battles), our life changes.

If we appear just 'fine', this appearance ends up further isolating us from answers, from needed medication, needed investigation into 'quack treatments' waiting to suck us up, and the lack of continued investigation into what causes our condition and how we are expected to 'just simply live with it, because after all, we look just fine!'

This could be inclusive of folks with: Lupus, IBS, Fibromyalgia, Crohn's Disease, Chronic fatigue syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, psoriatic arthritis, folks that have had long term HIV without wasting disease, early stage cancers, etc.

It would be an emotional informational documentary about the lack of support, issues of isolation, what long term pain does emotionally to those living with it, change of life styles, etc.

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Jan 28, 2020
by: Jeanie

I have suffered with chronic pain since I was 26, in 2008. The culprit is the toll that competitive cheerleading takes in ones body. I was a base and flyer, and I can’t count the number of times I fell, was fallen on, dropped, .... the lack of regulation and oversight could be a documentary alone.

Cheerleading also resulted in a relatively "fit " physique and a "no pain no gain" mentality, so when I tell people I have a reconstructed spine, have lost three jobs due to implications of chronic pain, and struggle to travel more than 3 hours at a time, they stare back in silent disbelief.

The medical industry has responded to victims of chronic pain by labeling all of us as part of the opioid crisis. And the impacts make our well being and overall health deteriorate. I have had to go to 14 different pharmacies to fill a rx for pain killers, and they were the mildest available, Tylenol 3 (codeine).

I continuously feel disgusted and at my wits end. I am left wondering what impacts this has had to even the suicide rate. Would love to be a part of informing others about this important topic.

Jun 27, 2015
As a parent of . . .
by: Anonymous

As a mother of a 30 year old daughter whose been diagnosed with chrones disease and medullary sponge kidney disease and IBS since her late teens, I've watched her struggles and know exactly what the medical industry does to people of chronic illnesses! Most doctors in my opinion haven't a clu nor bedside manners worth a damn . . . Just legal drug pushers for Big Pharma without souls or compassion!! I blame the food industry for 95% of our modern disease, the other five percent on the EPA for turning their backs on us all to make huge profits! I feel this is a great idea but fear it will never see the light of day as it goes against the grain of the realities that people in power will never acknowledge. All the best to you!

Jun 14, 2014
Pain and Fibromyalgia invisible pain.
by: Mary Miller

Frankly I have cerebral palsy and AM NOT the person to be handling a camera due to steadiness, but I shared this idea over a year ago without any avail. I am certain that something needs to be done, but not by me. Sadly did not hear of any offers so assume my idea is dead in the water at this point.

Nor have I head of anyone actually making anything here, other than a whole lot of "me too's" comments.

Jun 09, 2014
by: Anonymous

Dear Mary,

I am an emergency physician transitioning into an alternate career of filmmaking. I have also worked as a pain management specialist. If you are still interested in this project, please feel free to email me at

Dr. B

Aug 06, 2013
An idea for you
by: Anonymous

If this documentary gets made, you'll want to talk to Chris Hannah of Cluster Headache Support Group, who suffers with Cluster Headaches - an invisible illness nicknamed Suicide Headache.

May 16, 2013
ideas and feedback
by: Desktop Documentaries

Hi Mary -

Thanks for sharing your documentary idea. It's an excellent topic that needs more attention, definitely.

To address the question of whether any of the documentary ideas posted to this site have actually been made into a film, that's difficult to answer. Once the idea gets posted to this site, it's out of our hands. Someone could make a film and we wouldn't know about it. As Scott mentioned above (thanks Scott for your comment), coming up with the idea is one thing, making a film is quite another. It's a massive amount of work actually to take an idea from concept to screen.

We did get one inquiry from a production company about this documentary idea "Target Targa". But we have not heard back on whether anything came from it.

Of course, we appreciate all documentary ideas. Our documentary ideas page is one of our most top visited pages on this site, so there's definitely interest. I think a lot of students come here looking for ideas, so it's possible, that these ideas are used as inspiration for school projects.

It's my hope that wonderful visitors like Mary continue to post their ideas. You just never know. One day, one of these ideas may actually become the next Oscar winning documentary!

Learn how to get a filmmaker to take on your documentary idea/project.


May 01, 2013
Docs take time
by: Scott

I like the idea for this documentary. I would love to see someone else make it as I am busy with lots of other things.

I think this message board is s great place to vet ideas. To see what kind of reaction different documentary ideas gets. That said, it is pretty easy to put the idea out there. It is another thing entirely to place all of one's focus on actually making the documentary. What takes 5 minutes to explain here may take 5 years to actually produce as a documentary.

I'd be interested to know as well if anyone has taken up the mantle and decided to make one of the documentaries listed in this section.

Anyway, if you really want to see this film made, it will require a lot more work than posting the idea on a message board.

If you don't know where to begin, that's what this site is all about. It shows you step by step how to make a documentary. It's not easy. It's not always fun. But the reward comes in the finished product.

Best of luck to everyone who has a documentary idea that they are trying to make real.

Apr 30, 2013
Regarding any videos made...
by: Anonymous

I am just trying to get folks this idea, sadly don't know if anything has come out of this location, I am hoping so.

Apr 30, 2013
by: Anonymous

I have seen so many important documentary ideas posted on desktop documentary. I dont remember if I have seen one actually made into a documentary. Is there any?

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