My doctors made it clear that there were two kinds of illness: those they could identify, and those that didn’t exist. My symptoms were simply shadow puppets cast by a mind that couldn’t control itself. I was confused. They were certain.

They were wrong.

Performance of a Lifetime 

I highly recommend this remarkable essay by Kate Horowitz on invisible, chronic illnesses and gender issues in medicine. 

Alex, like everybody, held hospitals in the highest, purest, dread and loathing. To come in with a bump and leave with the baby – this is the only grace available in a hospital. Other than that, there is only pain. The concentration of pain. Hospitals are unique in this concentration.

Smith, Zadie. The Autograph Man: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2003: 365

Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.

The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)

I like broccoli, but this is still a great quote.

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.

James Baldwin