I’m sitting here recharging – yes literally as the scs running a bit low on juice – watching the Olympics and downing Pimms. The divers and then the gymnasts, wow they are fit and so many of them have overcome injuries to be at the top of their game.
This got me thinking about a lady whose work we admired in an art gallery recently and her story. She was an ordinary young housewife who had her family and set about bringing up her children and supporting her husband as a stay at home mum. Life felt pretty dark at times, although it should have been great, and now that wonderful thing hindsight has shown her and her husband that she probably had post natal depression for many years. During these difficult days she developed a painful nerve condition of the face called trigeminal neuralgia – all the same awful nerve pain that is experienced with sciatica down the leg or nerve pain down the arm, but running through the side of the face. I know that I have written at length over the last year about nerve pain and just how hard it is to treat, but it really is the hardest thing to control and the trigeminal nerve is probably the hardest to symptom control. This would have led to a continuous cycle of pain and depression.
She had never painted beforebut with encouragement started to put brush to paper and found a fantastic outlet for her pain and depression. Over a period of years she developed her own very distinctive style – the gallery described it as Marmite, as people either love her work or hate it – and her work started to be noticed by art critics. Today she has exhibited in a top London gallery, her art sells for thousands and she is a leading figure in the Royal Institute of watercolour painters. Just think, this all started with what was effectively art therapy!
http://www.adrianhillfineart.com/ – link for the gallery in Holt for more information
Therapies that complement traditional medicine have long been recognised for their beneficial qualities in mental health, palliative care and cancer care. The use of art and specifically colouring is now becoming a regular therapy for symptom control. Adult colouring books are quite the rage! I have found that when the pain is not settling, sitting quietly with a picture to colour in really changes my mindset and thus my response to the pain. There is something about the different way in which you have to concentrate that slows down the mind and is calming. My girl, who does more than just colour, says that she finds painting and drawing relaxing. With art, it is possible to express thoughts and feelings that can’t be voiced. In the paintings of the artist described, it really is possible to see her battle with depression and pain in the dark outer edges of every painting – and yet the details of the actual pictures are bright and vibrant, depicting people living life to the full. Maybe some these actually picture activities that she would have liked to have done or places to have visited – even the slightly more risque elements to some of her work could be expressing a side to life never experienced. I wonder how many of us bloggers (not just those with an illness) use writing as a similar therapy – whether it is as a distraction from illness, a means to express ourselves in a way that we are unable to voice in everyday life or merely a way to escape from the stresses & strains of modern day life for a few minutes.
So to return to my original thoughts, it is possible to work and strive to overcome physical & emotional difficulties in order to produce a work of art, be that a physical painting, a novel or a perfectly executed high bars programme. But we mustn’t feel or be made to feel the lesser for failing to overcome our situations or to
produce wonderful artwork. We can take inspiration from others though and each find our own outlet.
So, I’ve finished charging, my battery is showing full, the Pimms is long gone……nearly forgot, we came away from that art gallery truly inspired, but also with a slightly lighter purse and a girl grinning from ear to ear as she carried oil paints home! I think I know how she plans to express herself over the remainder of the holidays!