Art Journal Your Fibromyalgia Journey
Chronic illness took over my life five years ago. I had once been vibrant, busy, working and full of life. In 2010, I suffered a mini-stoke due to birth control pills and have dealt with chronic illness since then.
After my initial years of devastating illness, I began searching for a way to chronicle my journey through illness. It was so hard to describe to doctors, friends and family how I was feeling — physically and emotionally.
Coupled with brain fog, I began to search out a way to express myself — a way for me to remember, to cope and deal with my physical limitations.
Using Art as Therapy
I stumbled across art journaling posts on Pinterest. I was captivated by how people were using art journaling to express themselves.
The images, paint and assortments of mixed media in the form of magazine cut-out collages, ephemera, textiles and inks all peaked my interest. Since that time I have broadened my search to YouTube videos, Facebook groups, Instagram and Twitter.
There is a wealth of great, free information at your fingertips online. Social media has taught me many art journaling tips, tricks and techniques. If I’m not well enough to sit up at my table and journal myself, I lay with my iPad and browse my accounts.
I find watching art journaling step-by-step videos and learning various techniques to be relaxing and enjoyable.
When you allow yourself the freedom to play with mixed media in art journaling, it can become very healing. I have even brought my journal with me to medical appointments and shared it with doctors — I felt the art journal spoke louder than I ever could have.
It tends to make a busy doctor stop the regular protocol checklist and really pause, listen and ask questions about me and my illness. It’s very validating when you suffer with an invisible illness.
I won’t ever forget my doctor running her hands over the page, staring down at my journal, and telling me she wished there was more she could do for me. It helped us reach an understanding about my illness. It is at this moment we solidified our trust in each other.
My love for being creative and designing has acted as a type of physical therapy as well. Intricate work has helped bring back mobility and dexterity in my arms, hands and fingers.
Art journaling forced me to use my hands when nerve pain would have otherwise stopped me. This conditioning aspect helps build up tolerance.
I never know how my art journal entry will turn out. The end result is usually a surprise to me too! I just clear my mind of aches, pains, responsibilities, and focus on one element.
I might start with a magazine or an online image that I related to that day. Sometimes it is a thought or quote I keep thinking about over a few days.
Whatever it is, I just let the process unfold in front of me. I remind myself that it is my expression and my time away from my illness. I hope it tells the story for me rather than me dwelling on chronic pain and symptoms.
After I’m finished with the entry it serves as my documented truth and I relinquish thinking about it anymore. Art journaling has become my therapy, my counselor, and my friend.