"I wanted to make a difference in this world and also share my designs with people! I thought of other girls like me representing chronic pain awareness. Then I thought of the chronic pain color; Purple. Then “Girls in Purple” was born!"
At 14-years-old, Elizabeth Milstead began suffering from severe pain and was diagnosed with Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome (AMPS). Initially she felt defeated, but she decided to change her attitude and use her experience and skills to help others. She launched a passion project called Girls in Purple, a jewelry company that raises awareness for chronic pain and gives back to charity.
Go Elizabeth! STAY STRONG and KEEP GOING. We love what you're doing!
Every Ella: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Elizabeth Milstead: My name is Elizabeth Milstead and I am sixteen years old. I live in Atlanta, Georgia and am a rising junior. Ever since I was a little girl, I've always had big dreams and have worked very hard to accomplish them. I am very athletic and have a passion for fashion. Fashion has always fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I have a twin brother named Ross and a loving mom and dad!
In 2014, you started struggling with severe pain and could not figure out what the cause was. What did the doctors eventually discover?
The doctors eventually discovered I had Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome, otherwise known as AMPS.
What is Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome?
AMPS is an umbrella term for severe pain disorders such as fibromyalgia, CRPS, and many more. Technically I am undiagnosed and a medical mystery because doctors do not know what pain disease I have, so I am classified as a patient of AMPS.
How did you cope with this news?
I did not take it well, after all I was only fourteen at the time. I struggled with my faith in God and was mad at the world. I shut everyone I loved out of my life and was very sad for a long time. I didn't know how to cope with my pain until I went to a pain clinic in Boston in February 2015.
Is there a cure for AMPS?
No, there is no cure. But I do not let it bring me down. I know one day I will find it. Even if I don't, I know God is on my side and everything will be okay.
How are you feeling now? Have you been able to manage the pain?
I am feeling amazing now. Pain barely happens to me anymore. Although Pain is an everyday struggle for me but I have learned to manage it through exercise and stretching. I do yoga every day and eat very healthy. I do everything I can to manage it and be as healthy as possible.
Through this journey, you created a jewelry company called “Girls in Purple” that raises awareness and fundraising for chronic pain diseases. Can you tell us a little more about the company?
Girls in Purple is not just a jewelry company, it's a company that represents my story. It is my hope that everything will be okay. I am so blessed to call it mine! With almost 2,000 followers on Instagram, the company has turned into something beautiful and wonderfully made!! We also donate 25% to stopchildhoodpain.org.
How did you come up with this idea?
After rehab, I learned to get in touch with my creative side! I wanted to make a difference in this world and also share my designs with people! I thought of other girls like me representing chronic pain awareness. Then I thought of the chronic pain color; Purple. Then “Girls in Purple” was born!
What are your goals for “Girls in Purple”?
My goals are to make an impact of everyone out there in this world. I plan to share my story and provide hope for all those fighting chronic illnesses out in the world! I want people to know what chronic pain is and learn from my story that dreams do come true. I want people to know that life is worth living for and is a beautiful gift.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to do yoga, make jewelry, sketch fashion designs, shop, and run! I also like to travel and spend time with my family and friends :)!
Name one woman who inspires you.
I have to think about this a lot because there are so many women out there who inspire me. If I had to pick one, I would pick Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl’s strength to overcome her struggles throughout life after the death of her mom, is so inspiring. She pushed herself to hike over 2,000 miles across the Pacific Crest Trail, to win back her life. She is now an author and her story made a huge impact on me. Cheryl’s story gave me the hope to keep fighting when I was in the hospital one time after a horrible pain flare. She is such an inspiration!
If you could meet any female celebrity, who would it be and why?
I would want to meet Bethany Hamilton because she's such an inspiration. She also gave me hope to keep fighting during my hardest times during my illness.
What are your personal dreams for the future?
I have many dreams for the future. I want to go to Parsons Fashion School in NYC when I go to college. I want to continue raising awareness with my business and expand it into a clothing line! I also want to one day work at a magazine for fashion somewhere!
What’s one piece of advice you would like to give other girls?
If I had advice to give other girls, I would say to never lose hope. Life is tough, and throws challenges our way. We must fight these challenges with all our might and keep moving forward. Don't look back on the past… keep moving into the life ahead of you. We are all such beautiful people and have so much ahead of us. God has a plan and we must trust him to lead us into the light ahead of us. Trust yourself and never lose hope no matter what. We can do anything we set our mind to! Xoxo