Mad Like Alyce

Flares, Fears & Frustrations

I have started and stopped this post multiple times, deleting everything and beginning again from scratch. The truth is, it’s incredibly difficult to talk about fear, and there simply is no way to discuss chronic pain and flare ups without including the topic of fear. It wasn’t really even a topic included in the Pain Rehabilitation Clinic (PRC), and their whole purpose was to help us get off of medication and face the fear of voluntarily eliminating the only shield we had between ourselves and the pain that threatened to tear us apart daily.


This January marks five years since I went through the rehabilitation program at the Mayo Clinic, and since getting off of pain medication I have certainly had flare ups. My first year living pain medication free was a roller coaster of blinding pain and attempts to manage it with an endless supply of biofreeze and enough ibuprofen to kill a herd of livestock. I thought I had accepted that I would never be pain free, and it was a shock to me the first time I made it through a day at work without taking ibuprofen or even thinking of my pain once (3 years in). I wear my pain warrior badge proudly, and even though I have accepted the ups, downs, and limitations of my diagnosis, I was in no way prepared for the fear that accompanies a flare up.


Sometimes, it takes a flare up for us to see just how well we have been managing. I’m not talking about the day to day pain, but that deep, searing pain that takes your breath away as it rips you back in time to memories of when your pain was at its worst. Your pain manifests as a physical being, gripping you in a toxic embrace and all you can do is silently scream in your head, “NOT AGAIN NOT AGAIN NOT AGAIN,” until your brain is numb from the agony. Even after five years of flare-ups, it still suffocates me with it’s intensity.

I don’t bring it up to be dramatic, but instead to lessen it’s power by telling you this is normal. We went through hell–some of us are still in some shade of it–and the thought of going back there brings us to our knees. It’s hard talking about it to others, either because we don’t want to be the person who always talks about their pain, or because we are too afraid of our fears being invalidated. Having someone tell us that, “I’m sure it isn’t that bad,” or, “Hey, have you ever been to a chiropractor?” makes our blood boil.


While it is perhaps one of the hardest things to do, I focus on slowing down, which is the exact opposite of what my terrified rabbit brain wants to do. I’m currently in one of my worst flare-ups in five years, which, happened to be brought on by a new injury. Farrell’s Kickboxing, which is something I am so proud of myself for accomplishing with my damaged body, resulted in spraining my shoulder, and led to a full scale flare up of my neck and trapezius muscle pain to the degree of which I haven’t felt since rehab. I called my sister and mom in tears from the pain for the first time in 7 years.

What about the nail?

While my mind was spinning terrified circles about the “what ifs” and possibility that my pain could be coming back to it’s full fury, it was my sister who had the most sane advice. “Go to your doctor, you probably actually hurt yourself.”

Did you ever see that video where the girl goes on and on about problems, completely ignoring the nail in her forehead that causes all of said problems. I kind of felt like that for a minute. Having chronic pain means I am very good at ignoring my pain, or at least distracting myself from it. Sometimes I forget that pain actually has a purpose, which is to tell you something is wrong in your body. Facepalm. An injury. Deal with the injury, then deal with the flare. I’m not going to say the anxiety was immediately resolved, but it was a plan and sometimes, having an actionable plan can bring that internal panicked bedlam down to a dull roar.

More Frustrations

I did go to the doctor, get some X-rays (nothing broken or displaced), and a prescription of muscle relaxers and physical therapy… and was forbidden from kickboxing for an entire month minimum…. right over Christmas. Ugh. I’m trying to do the opposite of what I normally do (ignoring the pain) and actually listen to my body and what it is telling me. I’ve been so run down between the pain, holiday triggers and anxiety, and personal life anxiety that this break is a (mostly) welcome excuse to take it easy. To get back to basics, and start practicing better self care, both physically and mentally. To put on my war paint and face this next battle against chronic pain.


Hi! I'm Alyce.
Welcome to my journey towards living a happier and healthier life while living with PTSD and chronic pain... and never letting it keep me from my passion for Halloween, cooking, and way too many DIY projects... all at the same time!

Costume & Makeup Tutorials


  • My first attempt at a stone makeup! Used Mehron water activated grey base, black to like the creases on my had (so many!) and black and white stipple fir more dimension. Turned out pretty cool, I'm hoping to do a full face application soon!
  • Today was a lesson in moderation. I have too much on my plate, and sometime you just have to accept that it is ok to accept defeat and just relax. This burned hand makeup was inspired as half of a poem(see previous post). Since the inspiration required two hands, I actually did all on this with my non-dominant hand! Gelatin for the burn scars, and my Ben Nye  bruise wheel for color.
  • i have loved
with hands closed
and hands open
both are accompanied
by their own type of pain

by @andrewcoonswriting 
This was truly an example of art inspiring art. If you haven't read @andrewcoonswriting poetry, you need to follow him asap! Having both suffered heartbreak and chronic pain myself, this poem spoke to my heart, and I knew I wanted to use it for my next makeup look. 
The two types of pain display an open hand of stone, and a curled hand of burns. A love present but immovable, and love that burns hot and fast, leaving us scarred for life. 
Check out more of his work and keep an eye out for his new book of poetry, "Living with it," coming out in September!
  • So. Thirsty. Glycerin makes a great base for cracked and peeling lips. And you actually can't drink wearing it... at least, not without a straw. Now back to my morning caffeine infusion. I used my Ben Nye bruise wheel for the minimal colors, and my usual foundation to color the glycerin "skin."
  • Bloody knuckles! Today calls for a quick makeup and an early bedtime, as my sciatic nerve pain is approaching 11... I wanted a wound down to the bone, so I built up the torn skin with gelatin and rimmed the inside of the wound with black, leaving bare skin in the middle to take the appearance of bone when the look is done. I toned the gelatin with red water activated paint, and filled in with a rust and stippled purple to simulate the start of bruises. Finally, I coated it all down in blood. Not bad for a quick and dirty makeup!
  • "EAT SLUGS MALFOY!" Not a fun spell, and not one to attempt with a faulty wand. This "bonus" Chamber of Secrets was born literally from the thought that my ice cube tray looked like slugs! I had to pair my vom with some extra eye bags from a day of puking slugs. "Better out than in."
  • As promised... part two for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Basilisk after being blinded by Fawkes the Phoenix. This was a faster approach but I still think it turned out quite nice. The edges of the punctured eyes was made with glycerin, and I tried out my new Ben Nye scan blood! A great way to take a typical snake makeup to a different level.
  • Back to my Harry Potter series... nothing is more essential to the plot of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets than the Basilisk! I actually Iove the hell out of this one, done with mehron water activation paints and fishnet stockings. Aannndddd, since I was not on top of my game last week, I'm bringing you a two for one! Check back soon for part two of this look.
  • This look was a not so successful attempt at a major broken dose... think car accident minus other scrapes. Things I liked: I feel like the beginning of the bruise settling into the cheek was great. Not so much: I wanted to replicate swelling and added glycerin to build up the ridge on the nose. I think I needed to blend it out a little bit more, as it looks too abrupt. I also feel like this look has far too much red and purple in it. I think I could've accomplished a much better makeup with far less color, another one to try again soon!


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