Healing With Art

Supermoon 11 FAA

“This is no place for wimps” declared my Father as he coped with the final stages of Parkinson’s Disease. It was a mantra that would be repeated often between us, a go-to phrase that seemed to take the edge off. It was an attitude that had enabled him to adjust to a new normal as the physical casualties mounted. Up until the day he died, he managed to focus on the things that he could do rather than the things that he could not.

Just last summer I was celebrating a major life accomplishment. My photography/video production business had finally become self sustaining and I was ecstatic to be doing what I loved. The long daylight hours meant more time to squeeze in more images and I loved every minute of it but I also began to notice that my energy level was dropping and I began to feel body pains that I hadn’t felt before. By Fall, around the time of my last blog post the pain and stiffness in my muscles was so severe that I could barely walk much less lift a camera to eye level. Soon thereafter I was diagnosed with a debilitating auto immune disease known as Polymyalgia Rheumatica.

I’m not going to be the old me again anytime soon. Best case scenario is that the disease will go into remission within a year or two. In the meantime I’ve being forced to recon with a new normal that I didn’t anticipate. This is no place for wimps! Healthy daily doses of a corticosteroid are now keeping me mobile but not without continued physical challenges associated with systemic inflammation and side effects from the drugs. I’ll spare you greater details of my struggles and get straight to the point of this post.

Just like my Dad did, I’m being forced to focus on the things that I can do. At first the creative void seemed bottomless and I moped about drinking cocktails of self pity mixed with overdoses of political television, a deadly combination. After about a month of that nonsense I forced myself to pick up a paint brush and I haven’t set it aside since. I’ve learned that healing is a powerful byproduct of the act of creating art. My depression has been replaced with a calm knowing that my journey as an artist is continuing just as it was meant to. While painting I’ve learned that I can reach a meditative state that pushes physical and emotional pain to the background.

Supermoon 18 FAA

I’m very excited to begin sharing my new artwork on a regular basis and it is my hope that someone out there might be inspired by me to embrace the healing aspects of creating art just as I have. As always, I welcome your comments and I hope that you might share your own stories about how art has helped you heal.

me with moonlight series copy

14 thoughts on “Healing With Art

  1. Michael, thank you for being transparent with this struggle. I am very sorry to hear about your polymyalgia and associated inflammation. As you adjust to a new normal, you inspire all of us who create to proceed and to transcend ourselves in the effort to give form to our respective visions. May the morning sun rise upon you with healing in its wings. Gary Hawk (osprey paddler).

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about what you are going through, but inspired by how art is helping you both physically and emotionally. Your work is beautiful. There is an ethereal quality about your skier painting that really draws me to it.

  3. Best surprise, to see you back to what you love & to share it !
    I am so excited for you, knowing that you are not letting yourself be defined
    by what you are not able to do but by what you can do:) You can be a mentor
    & inspiration to others.
    I am so glad that you are not a ” wimp” & that we can enjoy your art again &
    hopefully your fabulous & stunning photography down the road my dear

  4. I always appreciate your creative eye and talent. Sorry to hear about your personal struggles. Autoimmune issues can be extremely frustrating AND depressing. Diet can be a huge help in combination with medications. If your unfamiliar with Danielle Walker or Elana’s Pantry, I would encourage you to check out their journey with autoimmune disease. You might find a helpful tidbit or two. Keep those creative juices flowing 🙂

  5. OMG your pictures remind me so much of Newfoundland Canada where I grew up and where my heart is always. I go home every year and my family is there. I going to give you some good news I was finally diagnosed 4/1/2014 after 6months of agony. I am very athletic…So this was a misery.. I started on 30mg of pred the decreases never bothered till I got down to 7mg. Then I decreased 1mg a month till I got to 5mg. The decrease were very painful, between 5 to 8 days after each decrease I would suffer but I would Not increase my dose I waited it out gave myself a couple good weeks and decreased again.. then when I got to 2mg It got hard. I could only decrease by .50 and a month of aches and pain and exhaustion. It is so easy to increase your dose. No one likes pain but believe me when you get to the place where you think your going to break…It breaks and you wake up feeling good. Don’t give up. Last September I was down to .50 I came home from Newfoundland and said shag it. DONE. And I never looked back. I yoga 4 times a week and punch out 2-3 miles Tues and Thurs on a treadmill.I am fine better than that most days. If you can find water therapy somewhere DO IT that saved my life. When you get in the water nothing hurts especially if you can go over your head. I wish you all the best but don’t give up. I was off the Pred in 18 months. The only thing I can tell you is set goals learn to work through pain and you will be fine. And while your on the higher doses of pred do everything you haven’t been able to do and enjoy

    • Thanks so much Joanne. I’ve never been to Newfoundland but can imagine that its gorgeous..northern lights and all. Thanks for sharing your PMR story. It really helps to learn from those who have been here before and re-claimed their health. All of the things you said make a lot of sense to me.

  6. Love your artwork Michael! I can relate how art has replaced dark voids and habits. I call my painting just plain therapy. Thank you for stopping by my blog and liking what I have painted.😃

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s