How To Stay Creative With Chronic Pain by Ariel Jensine Dodge

Creatives face a myriad of daily challenges that get in the way of their craft. From day jobs to home demands to health issues, it seems there is always something standing between the desire to create and the act of actually doing it. One of the most significant challenges a creative might face in their lifetime is chronic pain.

In March of 2018, the cartilage in my left hip joint tore because of a malformation in my femur. Suddenly, sitting down to write or draw became an agony. Taking a walk outside could lead to a several-day flare-up. I was only 25 years old, and otherwise in good health, with an unusual presentation of symptoms that led to doctors brushing me off for over three years.

I felt like everything that had meaning in my life had been stolen from me in one moment.

So how did I manage to maintain focus on my novels throughout this challenging period in my life? Of course, everyone’s chronic pain story is different, but I hope these suggestions will help you stay creative through times of adverse health.

Rest when you need to.

In a society that encourages us to put productivity before health, it’s important to recognize when you need to LET YOURSELF REST. Do some self-care, take your medicine, or get lost in your favorite media. Powering through the pain will likely burn you out and worsen the pain long-term.

Create when you need to.

There may be days that you feel you may explode if you don’t write a few sentences or finish that outline. Take full advantage of inspirational episodes. Accommodate yourself by taking frequent breaks, make sure you’ve eaten and are hydrated. Write in bed if you have to! At the least, jot down some brainstorms in your journal for the next time you’re feeling better.

Don’t stop seeking relief!

In the early months of my injury, it became clear that this was not a health issue that would vanish on its own. As I continued to go undiagnosed, I lost hope many times that I would ever find a doctor who could help me.

A friend said to me one day, “Be persistent until you get relief.” Though her words were simple, the meaning and strength behind them were the reason I finally found a practitioner who could diagnose me. I am currently working towards a life with less pain. Please, don’t give up. You will find someone who can help you.

Finally, to maintain your creativity through chronic pain, there is one ultimate truth to hold in your heart:

NOTHING CAN TRULY STOP A CREATIVE PERSON FROM CREATING.

Art has persevered and permeated human society since the first smudge of ochre was painted on cave walls. Creation is our birthright, something that lives within us, even when we have no choice but to put it aside and focus on our health.

Whatever you do, don’t lose faith in yourself and your ability to create what is in your heart. The magic is there, and it will wait for you until you are ready to pick it up again.

You can read more from Ariel Jensine Dodge including this article via Medium

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