Harnessing my creative brain & my new-found joie de vivre

By Orkney Fibromyalgia Sufferer

sketch of scrunched up person in pain

My creative brain rarely gives me a rest. Over a year of chronic brain fog and a deep depression caused by my multiple chronic health conditions and their symptoms, dulled my brain activity. A dark, heavy, grey fog. A complete paralysis of my senses. Now it has lifted. There’s a break in the clouds. Am I in the eye of the storm?

Now I find myself in a place where I must relearn to control my thoughts and sudden impulses, all whilst being careful not to constrict my creativity.

I get a spark in my brain which produces a written piece, post or image.

I am inspired by the world around me and the people in it. I carry a notebook and pen wherever I go. Someone might say a word or phrase, a memory recalled, a flash of something from my past, or a song on the radio. A spark of brilliance ignites and before I know it I have written my next article.

This can be exhausting at times. As I write this it’s 04:22.

Recently finding out about my neurodivergent side I wish to explore that new-found part of me. Dip my toe into this whole new world. It feels like opening the door to Narnia.

I am searching for exciting, new conduits in which to channel my creative brain and sparks of inspiration. Pain art particularly inspires me. Unfortunately, I was never any good at art when I was at school. I remember one teacher saying my drawings were “primitive” My mother calls me “handless” because I can’t sew or knit. “What would your Fair Isle ancestors say? Imagine, your ancestors come from the Fair Isle and you can’t even knit?!”

My being left-handed made learning sewing and knitting techniques challenging. I think that my mother just didn’t have the patience to teach me. If I found a lefthanded knitter on YouTube I doubt I’d have the patience to teach myself either. So with sewing and knitting out of the proverbial window. I’ve thought of trying my hand at some pain art. Perhaps by joining an art class.

Both my grandmothers were artistic. My maternal wrote poetry with small illustrations and my paternal painted beautiful watercolours of the island of Copinsay, which she could see from her window of the farmhouse in Deerness. My uncle who lives in London is also an artist. Both teaching art and selling his artwork online and in galleries. On his visits home to Orkney each year he holds printmaking classes at the local college.

painting of a naked woman scrunched up in pain and clutching her head in her hands

The artist Antoine shares her story. Her difficult childhood and her own experiences of chronic pain is why I think her art is so emotive.


This is one of my favourite pieces of pain art. I often use it on social media to illustrate my written posts about chronic pain. Especially painsomnia. Painsomnia describes the vicious cycle of chronic pain and no sleep.

in the centre of the print two people walking surrounded by blocks of dark colour

I have this piece of Charles’s artwork hanging in my hallway. A gift to me at Christmas time. Every year I look forward to the Christmas card from uncle Charles. Every year it is different, a new opportunity to see something he has created. I mentioned to him that I liked this particular print and off he went “doon the street” with it to get it framed, presumably at “We Frame It” a local shop in Albert Street, Kirkwall.

With so many creative people in my family I feel that I must have it in me somewhere. Perhaps my writing is the unleashing of my creative side?

Art is subjective. What I create might be no good. That doesn’t matter. I tried. After what my art teacher said I didn’t think I would ever attempt artwork again and here I am ready to ignore her unhelpful criticism.

I don’t expect people to admire it. I don’t plan to sell it, or make a career out of it so why not give it a try? I don’t even have to show it to anyone. If I do this, it is for me. Because it’s something I would like to do.

Qui onques rien n’enprist riens n’achieva (“He who never undertook anything never achieved anything)” – 14th Century proverb

But. Am I taking too much on?

I want to ride this spell of ”good” health for as long as I can. But I must be careful not to burn myself out.

I always feel like I am not enough, not doing enough. I have to remind myself that I work, have two children, and volunteer for a charity two days a week albeit remotely and online. There’s also the work I do here Orkney Fibromyalgia Sufferer. I don’t really class my work here as work. It is a need, a cause, and a desire to help people. I do this across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I take time to like, comment and respond to every PM, DM and email I am sent. This all takes energy which is very precious to those who have chronic illnesses and therefore, have less energy than most and I have at least three of them (chronic illnesses)

insomnia #painsomnia #CFS #cfsme #fnd #functionalneurologicaldisorder #fibromyalgia

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2 replies »

  1. Risks

    To laugh – is to risk appearing the fool
    To weep – is to risk appearing sentimental
    To reach out for another – is to risk involvement
    To expose your feelings – is to risk exposing your true self
    To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd – is to risk their loss
    To love is to risk not being loved in return
    To live is to risk dying
    To hope is to risk despair

    But risks must be taken, because the greater hazard in life is to risk nothing
    The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing
    They may avoid suffering and sorrow
    But they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love and live.
    Chained by their attitude, they are a slave,
    They have forfeited their freedom.
    Only a person who risks, is free.


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