Tonight was so hard, I was having serious neuropathy problems in my legs (nerves that shoot random messages causing pain and spasms) on top of being so tired I thought I was going to fall asleep during the game but I didn’t want to ruin it for everyone so we played extra long and I tried to distract myself by working on a very simple quote art journal page (working on lettering) 6×6″ black card stock mounted in a small scrapbook cover (no sleeves) Prismacolor pencils and gel pen markers.
I think it came out good for how out of it I was.
After that hell night and with the depression and rage fits I have been going through I did some thinking about why it is so important I get my art room organized.
[b]Here is something about why I NEED art to stay ahead of pain and stay sane[/b]
I live with chronic pain, sometimes it is a mild nagging in the background, that little itch or ache that mildly distracts you from everything just enough to qualify as annoying, other times it is front and center, taking away my enjoyment of life, washing out the colors, drowning out the sound of joy, flooding my senses with currents of agony.
Thankfully my issues are no where near as bad as many chronic pain sufferers who ate in the second state of pain where it takes central focus 24/7.
And more to the point is the fact that I have a few outs that save me from drowning in the pain, from losing sight of what is good in life and what is still worth fighting for.
It is strange because while I suffer from chemically based bi-polar depression I am blessed with a nature that is overall happy. I know people with no health issues, no mental or physical issues that simply go through life perpetually irritated and mildly unhappy or seriously angry everyday. And here I am, physically and mentally broken by most anyone’s standards, and yet I make an effort to see something beautiful in just about everything. I don’t claim it makes me a better person, I believe it is as much a combination of genetics that allows me to feel joy and be happy as it is a matter of genetics that causes my bouts of depression. It is also upbringing, I was taught to see humor in even annoying things and to find 1 beautiful thing a day.
I also have a drive to do art. I think I would be dead 100 times over by now if I did not have art to lose myself into.
The thing is art and crafting, and especially art journaling where I can easily do a little bit or a lot, where I can work 1 page when i have a single focus or prep 10 when I am so distracted I can’t focus on one thing, gives me a way to stay separate from my pain, to stay out ahead of it a bit. One of the reasons I tend to work on multiple projects at a time is a mix of AdultADD and pain management, being able to change my focus, not having to break off and stop working while something dries, allows me to keep a bit more focus which distracts me from my pain.
I don’t know how chronic pain sufferers who don’t or cant craft, or even read, survive. Without a distraction, without an outlet for both my pain and my joy I would break into a thousand pieces.
I often write about pain on line, but you will not find a lot of pages about it in my art journals. There have been times when all I wrote about, all I created was ruled by my mental and physical problems,. I glorified the pain by putting the problems down then found that i could not stand to look at them later because while it freed something in me at the time it kept bringing it back into my life over and over again afterwards, this was especially true of the things I did to express my mental issues of depression, anxiety and self loathing.
And so a lot of art was destroyed and some of the paintings gessoed over and the canvases reused, it wasn’t until I ran out of gesso and decided to incorporate a bit of the original images in the new more positive piece of art that I hit on a way to vent artistically and not allow my art to be eaten alive by pain.
Obviously I am not afraid to discuss my illnesses but I do not want it consuming my art work, I learned to use it as part of my art but not the final focus.
A good example of this is art journalling, I will pour out the pain, the thoughts that are eating at me, the moments of agony and then I will rework the page it was written on to make it something new, something not about the suffering underneath.
Sometimes I will write in pencil on dark paper then draw over it, I will print out blog posts or fb statuses about my pain, run all the sentences together so that it is line after line of solid text then draw or collage at random over it and then when I have “Broken it’s back” (its continuity) I pick words out and make found word poetry that has nothing to do with pain.
I can’t always control the pain, I have issues meds do nothing for except give me a badly disjointed sleep, but I can control how I express it. This is not to say there is no value in work about pain, work where suffering is the focus, but for me, well I have been there and I am moving on.