40 Portraits of Pain

By June Okochi
http://www.juneokochi.co.uk/

I love telling stories. I write about my experiences of life, art, travel, culture, poetry. I even journal about living with my genetic condition.But one day I decided it would be great to express in a different kind way. I wanted to tell mine and other’s stories of living with our genetic condition through visual imagery.I wanted to use photography as an art form to express the different motions that come with this condition.How we deal with pain and suffering every day of our lives. To express how we battle fatigue levels, how we live with anxiety about when next we will be sick and back on a hospital bed, how we have become accustomed to discomfort and pain that we are no longer afraid of it. We have normalised it like the air we breathe. How we deal with broken bones, broken cells, strokes, suffocating pain, damaged organs and fight early mortality. Sometimes the pain is so excruciatingly unbearable, we chose death over life.We are born with it and we die with it. There are no easy ways around it.We deal with the impact on our social lives, our physical, mental and emotional lives. It takes its toll on our childhood, education, careers, professions, everything, until we end up borderline depressed and broken but we keep going, we keep living, we smile, we hide behind our pain, we cry at night, we keep smiling, we keep thriving, we keep popping those pills, we pop them until we die, we take your blood and exchange them into our veins to have life, to live. We need your blood donations, it fixes us for a short time until the next time when we need another fix. We take opiates to keep us alive, pain free. We use oxygen to keep us alive, we use surgery and chemo treatments to keep us alive. We do everything we can because we have no choice, because we didn’t choose this, because we were made to deal with it.Some of us do not know what a decent quality of life looks like.We fight, we fight, we win, we lose. Some fall and don’t make it, we hold their memories, recognising that they are in a better place, pain free, others keep fighting until we make our mark, find our legacy and our legacy may be as simple as just surviving.Sickle Cell…I am a warrior. We are warriors.World Sickle Cell Day, 19th June 2019Watch out for the full online photography series exhibition coming soon.#40potraitsofpain
#worldsicklecellday
#sicklecellinlondonCreator: June Okochi
Photographer: Jim Higham
Creative Director: Ijeoma Okochi-Agwu
Production: Mica Marshall and Tommy Okochi

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Exuberant voices

The crystal bell in this head rings out.
Shattering the dark, sending the bats into flight.
Cavernous places these thoughts do dwell.
But the night light beckons and calls.
Whispers catch on the summer breeze.
Emerging back into a world unfamiliar.
They trickle down the spine, in thoughts so sublime that they leave me restless.
Waiting for the tide to turn.
How they put up streamers and plait the hair of my age into golden weaves.
Singing me to sleep with their lullabies.
These exuberant voices compete to lift this heavy spirit.
Bringing the heavens and the sky down to me.
But back in that cave, behind the rocks and darkness.
Lies a thought, a niggling worm at the core of me.
Now asking, these voices I hear; why are there more than one?

Luminous lament

She knew, she hoped, she begged it true.
But despite her efforts, away they flew.
She always thought they’d come to save her.
To take the dark and be her saviour.
A light would flicker inside her heart.
A smile would spread, then tear apart.
She never found love that ever endured.
Or took her sickness and made her cured.
From a loneliness that ate away.
A sadness that had come to stay.
Until she read deep in a book.
That she could change her fate, and all it took.
Was to love herself and believe deep down.
She was a spark from god, with her own crown.
A little flame, could burn up bright.
If she believed, she could banish the night.
And though it may seem trite and sappy.
She could not rely on others to make her happy.
And by doing this and loving her heart.
She found her soul mate, her other part.
The light now shone for all to see.
A neon blur of serenity.