The Art of Suffering

Countless medications and alternative treatments can feel like navigating a minefield of depression, disappointment and despair while dancing to the beat of the debilitating and disabling chronic pain that seems married to your life. Hope appears nonexistent. Joy has a restraining order. And Relief is but a dream within a dream. Yet you are a butterfly—dying to the former self to become anew, even better.

That’s what I learned through art therapy. An otherwise simple distraction, some would say, allowed me to witness that the expressive creativity did something the pain could not do—touch my soul. The pain can destroy my body, eat away at my mind, break my spirit. But through all this, my soul is left unscathed. That brings a joy that cuts through the pain.

I am writing this article with a month-long migraine that had at first taken all the energy and joy I could even imagine. I had to take vacation time from work just to get through the pain by sleeping the days away. It’s depressing. Yet I smile. Make no mistake, the pain hasn’t gone away… yet. But it is being transformed or rather directed into something positive as I type. Doing any other everyday task, or work, won’t cut it.

There’s something about giving voice and expression to the pain that is at the very least soothing. The pain begins as a powerful and obstructive force. But art therapy allows me to take the pain and dance with it in harmony, as opposed to dancing to its miserable, destructive beat. Your voice “to be” must be louder than the pain. While the pain has not gone away, its intensity has subsided greatly. The pain transference coupled with a positive purpose makes it all manageable and, dare I say, worthwhile.

I have a greater understanding of how the pain assists in my growth and instructs me to not only learn from it by learning more about it, myself and my needs, but also to listen to it and treat myself in the best ways. Shutting down and shutting the world out is sometimes as destructive as it is positively effective. It can allow the pain to fester and grow unimpeded. Yes, I have my shades and noise-cancelling headphones on. But I didn’t stop there. I grabbed a notebook, pen, and sketchbook because I’m not done living. I won’t let the pain have my life or my days.

To all my migraineurs: Give the pain a better purpose. Brave the day.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


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