Our Online Community group on Facebook is a supportive space for patients to unite in the battle against Lyme disease. The group offers friendship for Lyme sufferers and has helped many people find a way forward with their illnesses.
Nearly all of us at LDUK have had our own experience of Lyme disease, which means that we can relate to many of the conversations started in the group. As moderators of the page, we often feel a deep sense of pride when we catch sight of a particularly warm-hearted thread.
How wonderful it was recently to stumble across a conversation where group members discussed the healing properties of art, and how the hobby had ameliorated their symptoms.
Indeed, in many ways this is not surprising, as studies have shown that art can improve self-worth, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve medical outcomes. Living with Lyme disease can push you to your very limits and art can act as a refuge to the intense emotions associated with the illness.
The conversation was so powerful that it inspired many members of the group to pick up their paintbrushes, even those who had never considered themselves artists!
Members of the group shared photos of their artworks, and we were so blown away by the talent that we felt compelled to write this article! The world should not be deprived of such beauty.
Vanessa Oliver kicked off the conversation by sharing one of her remarkable artworks, alongside the caption: “Desperate to see something of my old self, I drew this this evening. Exhausted now. Vague hope in the distance.”
Group member, Pauline Bowie, responded by sharing one of her incredible paintings, alongside the words: “Hi Vanessa Oliver, how beautiful! I have been trying to get back to my pre-Lyme creativity too. This is my latest attempt.”
Cheered on by the other artists in the group, Margaret Cox shared her breathtaking depiction of a falcon, explaining: “I like drawing too, as it helps to take my mind off things.”
Many of our community members are animal lovers, and next up Elizabeth Aughton Kerr shared her beautiful portrait of a dog. She told the group: “I’m drawing too, but a different type. My soul enjoys it, but it crucifies me. Gentle hugs to you.”
Sharing a second piece of art, Elizabeth explained: “I also needle felt, but it’s tough on the body.”
Whilst some of those participating in the conversation did not have any artworks to share, they still played an equally important role in inspiring members of the group. We all have different talents in life, and they left their mark by sharing words of positivity.
Group member, Deborah Bircham, explained: “There are some super talented people on here, I’ve loved looking at all of your artworks. Thank you for sharing. I don’t have any I can contribute myself, but I absolutely support the idea. We need as many happy, positive stories as possible to keep us going, and seeing others continuing to draw and paint might encourage others to return to their old hobbies, or find new ones. We lose so much of ourselves when we become ill, and having a sense of purpose and something that brings us joy, even if it’s only looking at other people’s pictures online, is so valuable. I teach mindfulness for chronic illness and there’s so much research out there about how important it is for our health to have meaning in life. It’s something I feel really strongly about because that gets taken away from us when we get ill. I know seeing these fabulous artworks lifted my spirits, and I think it’s also an important point that people with chronic illness have value, and useful skills. I think we tend to get written off by society when we get ill, and maybe even also write ourselves off a bit too, but we still have so much to offer, as these beautiful artworks show.”
Group member, Lauria Bell-Hughes, added: “Optimism and gratefulness have been the key to my getting well. Also staying busy even if I am having a hard day. I paint, do crafts, stained glass, and refinish furniture and household items. If and when I have been incapacitated, I lie on the bed or sofa and I write. I write about something that I am grateful for each day on Facebook to try to lift up others and I do an inspiration on my ‘Living Waters’ page. Be grateful and see your body respond. I also do my makeup at least a little so that I look better. If I look better, I feel better.”
Group member, Lorraine Murray, added further encouragement: “Nice work, everyone. Well done! These are lovely. LDUK, you have some artists in the group!”
From everyone at LDUK, thank you so much to all involved! Special thanks goes to Vanessa Oliver for igniting this conversation and captivating our hearts! Vanessa is a fine art lecturer and art psychotherapist, and you can view more of her amazing creations below.
Do you have a piece of art you would like to share with us? What about a poem, a song or some photography? We welcome a variety of different contributions to our website – if you would like to submit something, please follow this link.
Update: Since this article was written, other patient members have shared their beautiful artworks with us! On seeing this article, they felt encouraged and inspired! You can view these additional contributions below.