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Cathleen Lengyel > Scribbles > Artist Life > Chronic Illness and Art

Chronic Illness and Art

Today I want to briefly discuss something that I see many fellow artists struggling with, chronic illness. I have been surprised to discover how many of my fellow artists struggle daily with chronic conditions.  It’s nice to find a sort of comradery in the field of art. I have heard in various art groups new people wondering how they can create while suffering from a chronic condition.  They want to create and be seen as an artist, but the physical limitations they face daily seem to make that dream impossible to reach. For those who do not know me, I have fibromyalgia, epilepsy and chronic migraine.  What a fun mix!  Creating art can be a bit of a challenge from time to time, but I work around the challenges.  The benefits to creating outweigh the perceived limitations.  As many people throughout my life have told me, if you want to do something badly enough, you’ll find a way.
If you want to do something badly enough, you’ll find a way.
Let that sink in a moment. Yes, if you want it bad enough you’ll find some way to make it work. Art in and of itself can be a great form of therapy!  It can be relaxing and help pull your focus away from anxiety, stress, pain and anything negative you may be focusing on.  When your work is completed you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.   Even in the bad times (fibro flairs or post ictal pain etc) you’ll relish the sense that despite all that you created something. Personally, I do not work at a table.  You will find me with a drawing board in my lap either in a comfortable chair or propped up with pillows under my knees and behind my back in my bed.  I use drawing boards because I can draw anywhere with them and I can get into a comfortable position while doing so.  It allows me to do what I love and focus on what I’m doing without constantly trying to adjust myself to stop the pain. Migraines.  Yeah, that’s the tough one.  When the migraines come there’s not a lot I can do.  During those times I really can’t stand to have a bright light over my shoulder.  When the migraines come I usually wait until they pass before attempting work.  Although, there have been a few times I had little choice but to work on my art despite the excruciating pain in my head.  I’d like to be able to say that focusing on my art takes my mind off the migraine, but that’s not usually the case. The important things to remember if you want to be an artist and you live with a chronic condition:
  • Know your limitations and don’t push yourself too hard.
  • Don’t let your condition control you or define you.
  • Know you are not alone.
  • Follow your dreams!
You may have to adjust how you approach your artwork.  You may have to come up with a different way to do your artwork.  But never ever let your condition/s stop you from creating!  There’s always a way, sometimes it’s just not the way we envision.    Like the Marine’s say, “Adapt and overcome!”   Until next time, Keep Creating! Featured image courtesy of sasint on Pixabay.

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