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"It's like someone's stabbing me in the abdomen." Jess has been in pain since she was 11. 

“It feels like someone is stabbing me repeatedly in the abdomen.

“I get a constant burning pain.

“There’s an aching that starts in my lower back and comes right down through my legs,

“And it feels like there’s a bowling ball in my uterus.”

This is what life is like for Jess Hirst, 28. She is one of 3.25 million Australians living with constant chronic pain, according to the latest Pain Australia report.

“If I get my pain down to a 5 out of 10 that’s amazing, that’s like a zero to me,” she tells Mamamia.

Jess has stage four endometriosis. She has been in pain since she was 11 and got her first period.

For most of us, the worst our period does is embarrass us. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

“It was horrific, it was so excruciating. I spent a few days in bed after it started,” she describes.

Over the years, Jess’s pain has just gotten worse and worse. Now, 17 years after that first experience Jess can’t work, and relies on her husband who is her full time carer.

“He has to help me shower. I get quite dizzy and the pain gets really bad, so I have a chair in there and he helps me in and out.

“He helps out with dinner and that type of stuff. He drives – because we have a manual car and I can’t use the clutch because of my nerve issues.

“If can’t lift my son, he does.

“I don’t know where I’d be without him,” Jess tells Mamamia.

Both Jess and her husband rely on government money right now. Her pain, and their son’s needs mean they are both at home, and relying on Newstart payments to get by.

But this Melbourne family isn’t alone.

The Pain Australia report warns that chronic pain is crippling the nation.

Over three million Australians face a life cut short, as they struggle with the limitations chronic pain places on their lives.

Cost wise, in 2018 it was estimated chronic pain is costing taxpayers $139 billion.

But in Jess’s case, she wishes she could work and provide for herself. She worked in sales, and loved it, but kept getting let go from jobs because of “too much sick leave.”

“I had lost 27kg without trying, I was throwing up every morning. I was almost off probation, but I was told I wasn’t physically fit for the role,” she said of the last role she was in, before the pain got too much and she turned to Centrelink instead.

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Jess hirst
Jess and her family. She is choosing to focus on happiness and not on her pain. Image: Endomumma.

The other scary statistic the report reveals is the impact the physical limitation of pain is having on everyday Australians.

Close to half of chronic pain sufferers also live with depression and anxiety. It's predicted that will rise to 2.3 million people by 2050.

Jess has had her dark moments, but chooses to focus on the positives.

"It took me a while but something dawned on me. I can't choose how much pain I am in, but happiness is a choice. I want to focus on the good things in my life. Life's too short," she tells Mamamia. 

“Without genuine reform, quickly implemented, our research shows the cost of chronic pain will climb to $215 billion by 2050, putting even more pressure on the back pockets of patients and an already struggling health system that is ill-equipped to adequately manage chronic pain," said Pain Australia CEO Carol Bennett.

“It is my sincerest hope that this revealing and important evidence will compel national action in how we respond to pain. In a country like Australia, we must do better for the millions of people in pain. Anything less is unacceptable,” she said.

At the moment, Jess is just living her life day by day. Trying to manage her symptoms, and enjoy her 18-month-old son, who is a miracle himself. With such a serious form of endometriosis, his conception was near impossible, and entrance to the world - excruciating.

But he is 100 per cent worth it, and is getting his mother through her worsening condition.

"I didn't realise how much strength I had until my son. Even in the mornings when I previously wouldn't have been able to get out of bed, if he's crying and needs me - I find this extra strength," says Jess.

As for the cause of Jess's chronic pain, she hopes sharing her story will open other's eyes as to how bad endometriosis can be. She has spent her life finding it "kind of easier to keep it to myself."

She has grown up hearing: "that's not endo, endo is only period pain."

Well, Jess knows it is so much more than that.

She and more than three million Australians are given constant, daily reminders of just what pain feels like.

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