Monday, 9 September 2013

Invisible Illness Isn’t a Choice, But I Choose To…. Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2013.

I choose to... continue with my creative hobby despite the difficulties and pain it presents in the face of my chronic ill health.

I accepted a long time ago that I’m a creative soul, and what I mean by that is that if I don’t have an outlet for creativity then my general well being suffers noticeably. I don’t quite feel like myself unless I can occasionally sit down and exercise ideas.

My particular strength lies in sketching, and in replicating what I see. I’d love to be able to create from my own head, but that doesn’t seem to be something I’m destined to do and I feel a mixture of awe and envy for those can. However, I’m happy enough with my ability to put down on paper with a pencil whatever is in front of me. In recent years I’ve turned my hand to replicating album covers, mostly heavy metal albums and particularly those with a dash of the fantastical about them.

Thus far I’ve taken on Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Lost Christmas Eve, Edguy’s Hellfire Club, Sonata Arctica’s Reckoning Night and most recently King Diamond’s Abigail – a departure in style from my norm and something I enjoyed all the more for the novelty.

I’m one of those people who get a real buzz from buying art supplies – even if it’s just a new sketchbook to replace its full predecessor. I also own a beautiful set of Derwent Coloursoft pencils, a Christmas gift I still get somewhat giddy over using – I’ve been known to get them out just to look at them on occasion. If anyone is looking for a high quality set of pencils without paying a portion of your immortal soul to Faber Castell, I really recommend them.  

(MINE! Image from

Why is this a choice? Sadly, my hands aren’t what they were, I have noticeably less dexterity and they protest painfully when put to work with a pencil. The first time I sat down to sketch and found this was the case was probably one of the lowest points in my journey with chronic illness. The one talent in which I wasn’t merely mediocre it seemed would be taken away from me. Though no small part of creative skill lies in the mind, I’ve always envisioned for myself that my talent sits in my hands, and it felt like my own skilled hands and been replaced with an ungainly, awkward collection of fingers which didn’t quite work. At the time I couldn’t see a way round it and so despaired for a while.

Since then I have found that with the help of neoprene heat therapy gloves (I had to try out a couple, and eventually settled on a thinner more flexible pair) and teeth-gritting determination I can still create. Some months ago I completed a composition around The Last Unicorn film for a friend, and in finishing it I took a huge step in my own recovery. It was difficult, and painful to the point of tears sometimes, but whatever the cost to find that I could still do what I loved was a relief I cannot describe.

(My attempt at King Diamond's Abigail)

It takes longer and it is inevitably painful – this most recent attempt saw my knuckles swell for the first time and I’m left with the residual stiffness and pain as I write now, but for the sake of my own sanity it does me the world of good to occasionally fight through the discomfort and indulge in my beloved creative hobby.

And believe me, nobody wants to see my take on “artistic temperament” when such an outlet is denied!

This has been my blog for Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2013, a contribution along with my guest blog last week. I hope you like it and hope to encourage other bloggers to join in throughout the rest of the week!

Wishing you all many spoons xxx

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