Chronic illness & Creative Art
In a world where the number of chronic illnesses are increasing, particularly in younger populations, we have been inundated with medications, supplements, and various treatments and herbs to assist with healing.
These are all useful, needed modalities to improve health, but something has been neglected and, I believe, it’s more powerful than we may assume.
I was diagnosed with a bladder disease, interstitial cystitis, three years ago. I tried everything I could possibly try to heal, but a year and half in, I was still in just as much pain as I had been on Day 1.
Not only was I exhausted myself, but I had exhausted every possible therapy, medication, and treatment. While reading a book about the mind-body connection, something I had previously dismissed as simply an interesting topic for guests on Oprah, I learned about the power our emotions and thoughts hold in relationship to our bodies and to our healing.
Additionally, after years of caring for everyone else, I finally took the time to care for myself. I had always loved to write before I had been married and had children, so I allowed myself to do that again. No matter how many chores had piled up inside, I sat down at my computer and I wrote. I read books that made me cry, and I listened to music that made me dance. I finally started falling back into my creativity, but I had no idea these simple acts, for an hour or less every day, would eventually start to heal my bladder.
I wrote a series on my blog about the capacity of creativity to heal.(LINK —> https://riverandquill.com/the-healing-capacity-of-creativity/ ) It’s funny how you can have an idea and think it’s all your own, and then you start looking, and you find how many others have found the very same thing, and have actually done work to support what they’ve found.
In an article by Stuckey & Nobel (2010) 1, they compiled a series of studies which found the effects of creativity on healing. They write, “Through creativity and imagination, we find our identity and our reservoir of healing. The more we understand the relationship between creative expression and healing, the more we will discover the healing power of the arts.”
I don’t think creativity is bound to writing or music, either. What is it that when you do it, you feel a surge of electricity in your bones? Maybe it’s solving equations, clipping the shrubs, or polishing the paint on your new car. It doesn’t have to be Rembrandt, or Picasso, friend. It just has to be you. Authentically you.
Stop letting your body tell you who you are. Take your vitamins, your medications, and go to therapy. But take your soul seriously as well. Listen to it. Marinate in it. What does it want? Whatever it is, do it without guilt or reservation. Do it, because we have this one life. We have this one chance to either blossom into the full expression of what we were created to be or to whither under the pressure to be what everyone else tells us we should be.
Guest Article: By Callie Dixon
1 Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 254-263. doi:10.2105/ajph.2008.156497