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Source: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

At coffee the other day, my friend who also is a writer was relating her own personal struggles with illness and trying to write. She has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which has in her opinion, sidelined a lot of her writing career. This powerhouse however is still doing great, important, and creative work but having a disorder limits her energy.

I get that: so many of us due to some disorder/disease are feeling limited or even damned by it to be a fully creative being. Myself personally I’m doing great now, but for years and still even some rough days, I get very tired and am in a lot of pain due to some chronic pain issues and my depression. How does the writer/creative continue to be an artist when they are pushed down under the weight of any illness/disorder?

 

When I tried to do some basic googling, the misconception of mental illness and artistic people again cropped up. We all know now that it’s bull-poo, but the idea still persists even among professionals that there is something mentally off with us creative types. (Thanks Lord Byron) Unfortunately it took some digging to find an actual person not a judgmental blabber head to talk about it.

Heal Dove has a lovely article on coping with chronic illness and being creative for 101 days. She touches on art as therapy, and a way to truly realize that you are capable, strong and creative. The experience can also show you what you truly need as you live with long-term disorders, such as lupus that the blogger has, or myself with severe arthritis/fascia disorder.  To quote the blogger:

When I was first diagnosed with lupus, and the many other ailments, I truly felt that life as I knew it was over. I did give up at one point. It took me a long time before I was physically able to pick up a paint brush again. Depression gripped me. However, I found out a lot about myself on this journey with chronic illness.

  • I discovered that I have a relentless will to live. Yes, I have to dig deep into my reservoir of strength to mine more of it every single day.

  • I don’t give up, despite the debilitating symptoms that I might experience.

  • I push through and grab hold of what they can to findjoy and fulfillment in every day.

  • I have an astute awareness of other people’s pain.

  • I have a deep understanding of adversity and hardship, so I can truly appreciate someone else’s struggles.

  • I have a unique perspective on life.

  • I am constantly challenged to find meaning and fulfillment within my own limitations.

  • I celebrate simple things that others take for granted.

  • I tend to live a secret life of struggling, although I am getting better at reaching out for help when I need it.

All the qualities she listed here are key for great artists, and people who hope to expand their discipline beyond just being labeled as ill or sick. She summed up how I feel about my own artistic journey with pain well with, “I am bent, but not broken; challenged, but not defeated.”

I urge you to try her 101 days of creativity and see if it helps you regardless of your physical and mental health. It’s a great place to start.

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