In the hit independent movie Cake, Jennifer Aniston plays a woman who knows pain. Barely surviving a horrific car accident which kills her 3-year-old son, she is left with a scarred face and wounds with pins in them decorating her arms, legs, and back. Consumed with bodily pain and emotional grief, she cannot sit, rather, she must lie down in a prone position. While she attempts physical therapy and group counseling, her unresolved grief and anger soon lead her to make friends with OxyContin, hydrocodone and alcohol.

She unsuccessfully uses sex as a means of release with anyone she can find, from her gardener to passing-by strangers. In her sorrow, she refuses all help, rejects her husband and lets rage be her only ally. At one point, desperate for more pills, she begs her trusted housekeeper to take her to Mexico so she can smuggle pain medication back into the United States. Like so many men and women who have experienced debilitating traumatic injuries, her physical injuries were compounded by anxiety, grief, rage, depression, alcohol and other drug use. In earnest, her attempts to manage long-lasting chronic pain gave way to a dangerously devastating empty lifestyle that reaches beyond the stories Hollywood tells and into the communities in which we live.

Continue Reading on