At 3 years old I held a pencil and it made me happy. I still draw every single day, now using my Wacom tablet to make comics, or my easel to make paintings. At 15 I passed out almost every day, I shrugged it off and my doctors didn’t take it seriously. Now I know I have several chronic health conditions that make it harder for me to live and strive in this world. Despite the struggle, I try to make the best of it and creativity helps with that! I love drawing because it helps me heal.
I have always drawn, ever since I can remember. However, since my diagnosis, drawing has become even more important. I would even dare to say: ‘Creativity helps me heal’.
Let me explain I am 25 now and I am chronically ill. It is hard for me to go through a day without naps or to walk without pain. Standing up causes my blood to pool to my legs and makes me faint. Sitting too much is painful, but moving is too. I am not begging for sympathy here; this is just how it is.
As you can imagine, this has been hard on my mental health too. People my age should be able to go to university or work a full-time job, do sports, explore the world, and themselves without any physical limitations. This should be the best time of their lives. Yet, I can’t. I can’t keep up with them, explore myself, or do things fulltime. I have to rest, go to the doctor, watch my diet, watch my body, take my medicines, do my exercises, and more. And because of it, I grieve the life I could have had.
Grief is known for its five stages: Denial and isolation, anger (ooh and the anger was bad!), bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Of course, me making drawings did not replace the need for a therapist to go through it all, but it did help. When I was angry, I would sit down behind my desk and make comics about my doctors not listening, or about letting my food accidentally burn when I had terrible brain fog. I would draw out all my symptoms, how it felt, how it looked, how I wish it wasn’t there. It helped me work through the five stages and finally arrive at acceptance. The drawing didn’t only help me, but it also helped others understand what I was going through. When I could not find the words to explain, or didn’t want to come across as whining or just didn’t have the energy, I could show my drawings. It was a conversation replacer. For me, it made all the difference. Being able to go somewhere with my thoughts and feelings, being able to explore everything without judgment, was a greater gift than I could ever have guessed.
I still draw, although I moved on to other topics to explore. It still helps me get a clearer vision of what I think, feel, and want.
It still heals me in many ways and broadens my understanding of who I am. I highly recommend finding a creative outlet. Whether it is dance, music, arts, cooking, or writing, it doesn’t matter. Creativity heals a bit of your soul when it needs it the most.
by Ilse deCock