The History of Elephant Art - Part 4, Denial Isn't Just a River in Egypt

 Dorset 2013,

2013 was a huge year for me:Ms Elephant very happily became Mrs,  I got Confirmed, was the year The Pain started. 

 Here I am (above) trying to use a standing desk to paint , after some weeks of being in constant pain. I was unable to sit at all and standing was really painful. Sleeping was tough too...

I had a history of chronic pain in other areas...and had been a visitor to numerous Doctors in Italy, as I struggled with pain that wouldn't respond to pain relief. It was too scary to think this had happened again....

This time round, pain actually gave me permission to be creative.After I  was unable to work part time, I designed and got some cards printed, as well as designing the altar cloths for my local church. 

It became clear as months turned into years and I got worse, that this wasn't going away.  I was on sick-leave which over time was going to turn into leaving work altogether.. I had been in denial, for some years, that ME was getting worse again....

 I suspect that no one forgets the appointment at which the specialist tells you, with kindness and some regret, that they have done all they can for you.  I thanked him and left with a list of pain relief medications and my head in a cloud of denial. My brain just could not make sense of having a pain that could not be made to go away. I hadn't been in an accident, I hadn't had a bodged operation...I didn't have a neurological  illness with a fancy name..

..or did I?

One of the things the specialist said was that the pain I had was really common...and was in the same ball park of illness as ME. I was shocked!  I had no idea that people could receive a life sentence of pain for no good reason...and ME back again- Nooooooooooo!. As i joined an online pain support group, I became aware of how hard this journey with daily pain is, and just how many of us are suffering....

Acceptance is a long, long road. Shortly after this I visited My Doctor to have the diagnosis of ME reconfirmed.  No one was calling it ' Yuppie Flu' anymore ( hurray), but although Doctors now realized how sick people were with this there were big schisms in the medical profession about if it was a physical or psychological illness ( hard to believe the level of fiddling whilst Rome burns ). I was dismayed to find that in the years since I had last been to my (then), Gp with ME...there was still no treatment that worked! In 1993 I had been told to: 'Go home and rest until you get better'  In 2015 the advice was the same- apart from the 'getting better' part.
How Do You Feel? 

This is the piece of work that began my visual journal of how pain and illness make me FEEL. The title is also an anguished response to being interrogated by the kind and caring people in my life how I was doing. Then would follow, either some unwelcome advice (  aka: have you thought of joining a gym..?), or the information, that I was 'Looking VERY WELL!!'

I drew this piece quickly and whilst in great pain ( one of those days where you can almost see little blue stars every time you move)...and finished, when the pain was calmer and I could see straight again!  I had no idea that this was the beginning of engaging in making art with passion, and...eventually to this blog of images and words.

I hope this series of blogs about illness and Art, has encouraged you to have a go yourself. If you are  reading this in pain or ill, you have a story that deserves to be told..:-)


  Some fantastic work produced by chronic pain sufferers:
 Some fantastically supportive and informative advice from a great pain forum:


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