Tuesday 10 April 2018

Chronic Illness and Creativity

Posted by at 7:27 PM in

Chronic Illness and Creativity

can you still enjoy hobbies

when illness takes away your abilities?

My fingers cramped and the paint brush fell from my hand, leaving splatters and speckles of blue as it bounced against the top of the table and landed on my kitchen floor. I took a deep breath and carefully, gingerly, bent to pick up the wayward brush.

Art has always been my personal outlet, a hobby that allowed me to release my creativity. I love the ability to transfer the pictures in my mind through shapes and colors onto paper. (Or walls, plates, countertops, flower pots, desks… whatever happens to be the available canvas at the time).

But this was not feeling like an outlet or fun hobby as I mopped the paint from the floor with wet paper towels. I fought against self pity and frustration.

I do not often find time for art anymore and when I do pull my bins of brushes and papers from the closet, and carve out a couple of hours for creativity, the task usually ends with the realization that my body is no longer able to cooperate enough to get through a project.

Fingers that are often numb, hands that cramp when gripping onto small items, and a mind that seems to skip and forget more than I’d like to admit, all mean that painting and drawing are activities that I now tend to find more painful than enjoyable.

There are days when I begin to believe that autoimmune disease has taken away far too many things in my life; art being one of those. 

Yet, to admit this, to allow myself to fall into that belief, means the disease has won.  

I will not let it win.  


As I placed the tubes of acrylic paint back in their bin, and stacked the sheets of watercolor paper, I silently prayed for peace and acceptance but also for strength and determination.

I will again gather together these same art supplies in the not too distant future and will give it all another try. I will lower my expectations and tell myself that my art does not need to be perfect. I will remind myself that it is okay to be creative in smaller doses, and that I can still find enjoyment in art… it just looks and feels different than it used to.

Different doesn’t mean bad.

In the meantime, I have other interests and hobbies that my body can handle today and I will chose to focus on those rather than stew in pity over what my body can not do right now.

If you are suffering with limitations, if you’re frustrated with your abilities, if finding enjoyment in the things you used to love feels hard, know that you’re not alone. I’m right there with you my friend.

There are things we do not have control over and chronic pain and illness highlights this is brutal, very real, ways.


We can control our thoughts. We can decide to be content no matter how our body feels in the moment. We can chose to see our strengths even as we witness our own limitations.

I do not type these words flippantly, and I am not casually spouting pretty words. I write this encouragement to myself today just as much as I write for you.

A dear friend of mine says it best, “Find the blessings!”

Find your blessings today friends. They are there, they may just take some searching out to notice sometimes :)


Gentle ((HUGS))!

~ Ali

* My book My New Normal: Learning to Thrive with Chronic Illness can be purchased at Westbow and Amazon or most other online retailers.