The Pain Diaries: Healing Through Art

I guess some people push arts and crafts for rainy days.

I saved it for after surgery. With a few weeks recovery time, I needed something to keep busy with. I didn’t want to sit and stew in boredom and knew writing would get too difficult. I am always searching for more ways to move forward and be creative. So I gave painting a try again during my recovery.

For years I could not paint. The only thing holding me back is me. That nagging shitty committee depression and anxiety belittling my mind. My rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis made me afraid of the dexterity in my hands.

I also never quite knew how to be patient with myself and learn from my mistakes til my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis followed with many mistakes.

From a young age art has meant everything to me and my family, whether I want to admit it or not. I am covered in art. My walls are covered in my father’s paintings.

There is one thing I have discovered about myself entering my 30s, I am happiest when I am creating. When my mind is distracted from all the bullshit in life and I am able to create something beautiful and meaningful. Hence this blog. Writing has given me a lot of purpose and been cathartic for me, but it’s not enough for me. I need more avenues to be creative in. I have a hard time not doing something but fatigue can make it so hard to do much. There’s a challenge in finding productive things to do when sick, guilt torments us.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis creates a lot of anxiety, sometimes referred to as flare fear. I admit I was fearful painting would get painful, as writing with a pen now can be difficult for me. I don’t have the dexterity I once had before when I was actively painting, I was after all still a child. There is always the mourning of what we once were able to do before life with chronic illness.

In my time recovering I decided to try painting again, something I haven’t done in years but I enjoyed doing as a child. I admit rheumatoid arthritis did make me fearful of painting because of the way it has affected my hands and wrists, I didn’t want to find out it was something too difficult to do with RA, it steals enough from us.

For years depression and anxiety told me I am not talented and question like everything I do. I’ve learned listening to illness and letting it restrict you from self expression or things you love to do is no way to go about living. Art doesn’t need restriction or perfection, it needs to come from the soul, where I find myself battling my illnesses to not touch that part of me. I am happiest when I am creating, especially something beautiful or to help others.

So maybe I have found myself another coping strategy for when I feel my worst or a release for my inner creativity which has been dormant for years. With winter coming up I am looking forward to moving forward with my new found hobby, especially one I can do indoors.

With my father living over seas for the past 12 years in China and now Thailand, often traveling the world with the goal of leaving his art in as many countries as he can, I am without much family support nearby. Disease can often leave one feeling like a burden to their family. Not being able to work, always broke, not necessarily in the best head space when times get rough it can be hard to stay close with family who have their own lives to live. Art however keeps my family close and creates a special bond even across the world. My father has always been supportive of me expressing myself and my creativity without judgement. He’s often been my rock to turn to when times have indeed gotten tough. I would love to make him proud of what I accomplish in life, which can be difficult to do when on disability. However showing him my healing through art has made him proud, as has my fight against arthritis. Art brings us closer, even when far away.

A quote from my father, my inspiration. Robert John Davidson


Without creativity in me, disease wins. I am after all Eileen vs Arthritis.

Published by Chronic Eileen

Rheumatoid arthritis advocate, writer and speaker.