Patti Edmon Altered Attic: Creativity and Chronic Illness

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Creativity and Chronic Illness

Invisible Illness Week is coming up - September 5 through 15 and the theme this year is, I Choose to: 

I don't always consider my autoimmune arthritis a benefit, particularly when one, or five days have been cancelled due to lack of ability. But there are gifts that come with the burden that are too valuable to bury beneath self-pity. I've learned so much about understanding the need for real priorities, valid choices, insightful empathy, living in the moment and the need to abandon the false ego that really does waste a lot of time. I've lived the better part of the last decade with illness and I choose to call myself an altered artist. Though I've been a writer and photographer nearly all my life I never picked up a paint brush until the expanding need for self-expression gave me an ultimatum: either work to nurture an evolving, explosive passion or, well, go nuts. I say that lightly knowing how fortunate I am to have had that opportunity. 

Saturday I was on day four of a major flare and as the anger swelled, and the bitter, mean, self-taunting voices began shouting, I grabbed my headphones, paint and my watercolor book and dove in (gently). I persevere, not because it's my career - I've already done that, though I'm far too young to be retired - or because I have big plans, which invariably derail midstream. 

No, aside from a few random events the only people who see my art are you, my family, close friends. But I don't create for the sake of potential sales, exhibition, publication. I choose to make art because I can and because it helps me stay in touch with the gentle encouraging voice that is always there, whispering, "you make a difference, you have a purpose." 

(By the way, Lesley Riley invented the most amazing thing - Transfer Artist Paper - and I was finally successful in transferring onto acrylics (the weeds:). I look forward to further exploration.)


Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

Thank you...I am living with Lupus with several complications each season...but when i can not get out of bed..I try to work in my journal...outline retreat plans...maybe sketch...yes it is invisible to most but... those who live with me are witness to the cycles. I wish you peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

~*~Patty S said...

your art always moves me Patti and reading more about your life journey is very moving as well...

what you say in your ABOUT ME: "I hold firm the belief that creativity is the life force essential to maintaining harmony and balance."
really strikes a cord with me too!

Thank you for sharing and I hope you are feeling much better very very soon...

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Thank you for giving me the "heads up" to this week of Invisible Illness. I remember last year, too. Although, like you, mine is not invisible (just look at my hands when they get caught in photos), mine is considered a birth defect.

I'm so glad you talked about your real priorities, because I always love it when you are able to post. I know that whatever you're blogging about will be of interest to me, and will be a priority to you. Thank you for that.

BTW, I've sent you an e-mail several times, but it comes back. For some reason, I can't send them, only receive. So, I'm going to send you my address in a comment. I hope you don't publish it (grin).

Anonymous said...

your post resonates with me so very much. i sell my art, but i do not create to sell. i create to live -- to get through the rough days and celebrate the good ones. i don't talk about my illness all that much (and i usually refer to it as a defect, or a small handful of defects, more specifically). i think you are so brave to be so open -- i truly admire your courage and all that you do.

if art didn't exist, neither would i. that sounds dramatic to many, i'm sure, but it's true.

sending lots of love and hugs your way! xx

Laura said...

hi patty,
i love this post. i seem to be in the anger/depression stage and haven't done anything art related in way too long. being in pain every moment of everyday makes it so hard to know what to do when i feel well enough to do something. make art? work in the garden? clean my messy house? lately it's just been to much. your post has given me much to think about...thank you!

angi eharis said...

i love your work patti! please share some of your techniques! u should do some online tutorials, your work and your words are truly amazing, tx for sharing and inspiring, aloha, angi in hana

Rachael said...


CatieAn said...

Hi Patti
I love your art piece. I didn't realize that this is national chronic illness/pain week coming up. I find that ironic since I am in the middle of a major flare and have complications from my ankle injury last May. I still pretend my life is normal until I am down and out and can't do anything. That is a very unhealthy way to live with this but one that is hard for me to break out of. I think I am going to let everyone else down so don't let them know what is really going on. Thank you for always being so open and honest about it. You always inspire me.


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