Art Therapy for Fibromyalgia
About a year ago, someone suggested I get involved in art therapy to help cope with some of my fibromyalgia symptoms. I was having a particularly tough time at work which had triggered a flare-up (or perhaps the flare-up had triggered the tough time… that chicken and egg situation is still open for debate) and I was struggling to cope.
My boss wasn’t very supportive. I was having to take more and more time off sick and the stress of it all meant I had migraines almost every day.
A colleague and friend spoke to me briefly about art therapy. She recommended that I buy some big sheets of paper and bright paints and relax whilst creating a beautiful pictures. I appreciated the gesture but knew art wasn’t really my thing. I’m a hopeless painter and my drawing is equally poor, and I thought I had enough stress in my life without being reminded of my artistic skills – or lack thereof.
Still, I gave it some thought and over the next few days decided it could be fun. In fact, the more I thought about it the more carried away I got and it was starting to seem like a great idea.
I decided I would convert the spare room into an art studio; I would buy big sheets of canvas, expensive paints, an easel and a beautiful wooden stool. I would join an art class and invite fellow art friends around to paint and drink tea. It would be wonderful.
Then, when telling my partner about my new plans to be some kind of visionary in the art world, inspiring future generations for years to come, I asked, “The only problem is, what am I going to do with all the art?”
You can probably already tell that I’d completely missed the point of all this, and predictably the art studio never happened. Even worse, neither did the art. That is, until a year later when art therapy popped back onto my radar and I approached things in a far more sensible way.
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is the combination of art-making and psychotherapy, used to help individuals find comfort, relaxation and healing from particular emotional challenges. It’s being used as a type of counselling following the widely accepted view that art provides a therapeutic outlet for creative tension.
In practice, this means that we can use art therapy to cope with the frustration, depression, anxiety or anger that many of us feel as fibromyalgia sufferers. What’s more (to my relief) it requires no artistic talent whatsoever.
There is a freedom with art therapy that means you can (no, should) paint, draw or sculpt anything your heart desires. The focus is not on the creation but is instead on the relief and relaxation you experience whilst working on your project.
Next page: where to start, and how it helps.