Posted on 20 Comments

Art as Catharsis – Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria

CIU and Steroids

I used to do yoga and meditate. I used to preach to other people about how helpful it was. I remember that once I was regularly meditating, I could return to a meditative state of mind effortlessly and immediately felt the benefits. I felt the stress flow away with every breath.

I really should get back into the practice. Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda! I am too busy. I have read that if you are too busy to meditate, you need it most of all. I know. I bet you’ve read that too. Easier said than done.

If you read my posts, you probably are some sort of artist or are of that mindset. You find solace in creation. So, THIS is our outlet for stress. Art is an amazing stress reliever. I can think of nothing that refreshes me quicker than getting in that zone, juggling and struggling in the process. “Will it succeed? Is this piece about to fail? Why did I just make that mark? Oh! Maybe it will work. It DOES work! Look at that. It is all coming together. Hooray! Wow! I made that!” What a feeling!

Right now I am only finding a chunk of time to paint about every two weeks. You might see my daily posts on Instagram and Facebook, but that footage and those painting are all created every other Saturday morning when the kids are at the grandparents.

But here is the curveball. I was recently diagnosed with a very annoying and sometimes quite painful Autoimmune disorder called Chrionic Idiopathic Urticaria (Chronic hives with unknown cause).

My body is releasing a steady stream of histamine all the time in order to fight… itself.

Did you know:

  • Autoimmune disorders include Lupus, RA, MS, IBS, type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s.
  • 1 in 5 people suffer from an autoimmune disease and some estimates say 75% of those are women.
  • The annual medical costs add up to twice that of cancer yet ten times more money is devoted to cancer research.
  • The treatments (such as steroids) that are being used to mask the symptoms rather than treat the cause do harm to the patient if allowed to be used long term.
CIU and Steroids
This is me on steroids vs. 36 hours without steroids.

So why am I sharing all this? To talk about stress management but also a call for others who might have similar situations. Do you have an autoimmune disorder of any kind? Did you find lifestyle changes or treatment that helped you?

Why has this happened? Did something trigger it? After months of trying too many prescription drugs with way too many side effects, I have started seeing an “Integrated Medicine” doctor. He is in the process of testing me for yeast allergies, h. Pilori, toxic metals and to see if I’m a carrier for strep. My primary care physician and the two specialists just had plan A, B and C that involved no investigation, only more drugs!! So I am hopeful that we’ll get to the bottom of this finally.

Some have the opinion that autoimmunity is caused or at least worsened by stress. I am a wife, a mother of two young children and a full time public high school teacher, trying to build a professional art presence on the side. In an effort to stay healthy and active, my son and I are at the local jiu jitsu dojo three nights per week. When my lips first started swelling and the hives became severe, I was rushing to get my website up and running in order to apply for a two week residency with Golden Artists Colors in upstate New York. I was coordinating two seperate art shows for my students and I, and directing the set design for our high school production of the Wizard of OZ. We were having an addition put on our house, so living in a constant state of construction and my father’s health is failing. Stressed? Me? Nah!

Still I bet half of you reacted to that paragraph with some version of, “that’s nothing. I got you beat.” Why do we do this to ourselves?

We can all agree, it is important to carve out a chunk of time for your art. How do we do it without adding to the stress by cramming it all in to the little time we have? I don’t have the answer, but I came across a book that might. Let’s read it together and maybe we’ll be able to come up with the answer together.

What is the book and how did I come across it?

Anne Truitt has been the spark for several conversations of late, including my last blog post, so I thought I’d look up a quote by her for my Facebook page today. All the quotes I found were relating to life and relationships, not to her art. Then, I realized they were all from her books, her journals regarding “a woman’s reconciliation of the call of creative work with the demands of daily life.” It is Daybook, Turn, Prospect: The Journey of an Artist by Anne Truitt.

Maybe she’s got it figured out. I bet she tells us to simplify our lives. (minimalist joke)


20 thoughts on “Art as Catharsis – Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria

  1. Oh…I forgot to mention something. I’m an artist. Semi-professional because it wasn’t paying the bills. ; ) But I do create art to sell and used to teach art as well. I now teach private art lessons. I’ve noticed that creating helps lessen the stress of my “paying job” as well as music. Nice, soothing, meditative music. I usually have it playing whenever I’m painting. Thanks again.

  2. Hi. I’m in the midst of a 11-month battle with chronic idiopathic urticaria purpura. I’ve been on steroids but they give me serious insomnia. I’ve had expensive allergy testing with no diagnosis because it’s not due to allergies. My dermatologist thinks it’s due to my cholesterol meds and after three weeks off them, there is some improvement, but I’m still having flares. I’ve been taking the max dose of Neurontin for months, and have only recently been able to cut it back. What I’m always searching for is a cream that helps take the itch away. I’m having some success with menthol creams but they only distract my brain for a short while. My question to you is, have you gotten better? If so, how long did it take? And what do you recommend for relief? What works best? I’ve gotten past the “LOSE MY MIND” phase and I’m dealing with it much better than early on. Thank you for you help. Have a great day!

  3. Thank you so much for all this information. I know I’m writing a book here, please bare with me. I have an urge to share. I’m still having a hard time mentally. It’s been three years since I became sick. I came here for pouring advice, but I too have an Autoimmune disorder called Transverse Myelitis. It is a spinal disease that mimics MS, I just don’t have the lesions on my spinal column. I too was told I gave it to myself. I had an untreated UTI and a MOUNTAIN of stress. I was dealing with the sudden death of my father, a week later I was in a car accident and totaled my car. My boyfriend of 17 years kicked me out of the house for totaling my car….He had just put a new engine in it the week before (Mercedes Benz) And actually, it was a very bad situation because he was abusive. He locked me out of the house and called the police telling them I was not a resident (of seventeen years) and I was going to break into the house. He also lied to the cop and told them I was a drug addict. I had a scratch on my foot and he asked me if that is where I shoot up. On my daughter, I have never even seen Heroin, much less used it. So I was all of the sudden homeless. I had to take a cab to a pawn shop and sell my jewelry to pay for a hotel because I had no place to go. Flash forward two weeks and I woke up in the hospital. I could not walk or use my arms. I had no memory of being in the hospital, much less not being able to use all four of my limbs. The first hospital did not test for a UTI and I was in a state of psychosis because my body was literally poisoning itself. They were going to have me committed because apparently I was acting insane. I called every person I loved and said the most horrible things, so bad that even my stepmom to this day won’t speak to me, or my daughter who is her only Grandchild because of whatever crazy things I said. So the morning they were going to send me to the psych ward, a bed came open at the rehab Hospital here in Raleigh, NC. I get there and they were going to commit me too. But finally, and after seeing teams of doctors, one actually uses their degree and tests me for a UTI. Bingo. They put me on antibiotics, I wake up the next day not knowing where I was, not knowing about being paralyzed, not knowing why my family was no where to be found. I couldn’t even remember my dad died. I spent three months in the hospital learning how to walk, use my arms and hands. I had to learn how to do everything all over again. I’ve plateaued and I am as recovered as I am going to be. I’m sorry my story is long. I wanted to ask you where you live. I would very much like to see your doctor (or did you say internist)? One of my side affects is eczema spots all over my body (literally, before I got online trying to find home products I could use to create cells, I was putting on hydrocortisone, from head to toe, I even have a large one on my eyelid today. It is the worst it’s ever been since I got sick. I just sat there naked on the floor crying. They itch and they scale. And I am too embarrassed to even go out in public when I have this much covering my body. The stress of the itching alone is hard on my mental state. Seeing your pictures though, makes me feel like I’m not alone thank you for posting this. It’s making me emotional because I’m so tired. But it would be helpful if I could get off pills and get the testing done like you did. I eat pretty clean. But the heavy metals, and finding out if Im not getting the right vits and mins. I just don’t know where to start to find a Doctor who does that and I am willing to travel to where you are to go to your doctor. I don’t have insurance either so that’s one thing I need to figure out. A positive at the end of this bummed out story….. Getting sick made me wake up and get away from a very bad man. And of course after Time went by he wants to be back. LIFE IS TOO SHORT to spend it with someone who doesn’t deserve you. I am with a wonderful man now. Went back to school, got a degree in massage therapy. I decided heck no! I’m not going to be disabled. I am going to help people who are in pain, because I have been there/here. Again, thanks for sharing your story and also for your advice on creating cells. I haven’t done my first pour piece yet. Wish me luck?! Thank you and God bless you and yours, ✌️💕🌞

  4. Your hives outbreak reminded me of my adult daughter. When she began using the Nuva ring for birth control, she had some shrimp and nearly went into annafalactic shock. She all of a sudden became severely allergic to shell fish. And had to carry around an epi pen because it would be life threatening if she ate something that was even near she’ll fish. When she stopped wearing the nuva ring, she started to introduce shell fish back into her diet. She had hives like you. The thing is, she really didn’t put it all together until after she had her baby. I love your spirit and your work. I’ve been a musician, singer, songwriter, entertainer all my life. I’m now diving into the wide world of paint. I’ve been using watercolors and acrylics. I’m on I just created another channel cjhardingart Like you I like to keep my options open. No pigeon holing this artist. Working on my website with WIX, but it’s hard. Yours is fabulous. I love it.

  5. Wow I just read all about you and others like you and ME! I have suffered forever. I’m 68 and still suffering . I to have given up on traditional medicine . I give up on all the pills drs try to shove on you. No dr wants to take the time to truly look into what is causing all this. I have fibro, lupus severe arthritis, just diagnosed with hashimoto’s. To many more to mention. I have had both knees replaced,my big toe yes they do that and 9 surgery’s on my hands. But I’m still crafting and PAINT POURING! I LOVE IT. The mixing is hard but I love it. I have sold 15 paintings a few clocks and some coasters
    You are a great inspiration to me. So I just keep on trying to get thru life. In pain but I can still move. Thank you for your videos
    I watch them all the time. My best painting was inspired by you.

  6. I intended to write you the little bit of note to say thanks again for the gorgeous things you’ve shown here. This has been really tremendously generous of you to make openly all a few people could have marketed for an ebook to end up making some money for their own end, chiefly considering that you could possibly have done it if you ever desired. These suggestions likewise worked to be a great way to be aware that the rest have the identical dream really like my personal own to know the truth many more pertaining to this issue. I believe there are many more pleasant moments ahead for people who view your site.

    1. Thanks.

      1. I have Behcets Disease, a chronic autoimmune disorder.. along with it comes sjogrens which causes some eye and skin problems including psoriasis. I feel your irritation. I do fluid painting almost every day. For shows and classes. Loving it! Love your work!

        1. I am so glad, Sue. It can be therapeutic, can’t it?

  7. Chronic spontaneous urticaria and angioedema is diagnosed when hives and swelling are present for more than six weeks and when it has been determined that an apparent protracted episode of urticaria is not the result of recurrent episodes of acute urticaria.

  8. I have hashimotos and fibromyalgia. For 8 years all I ever got was more pills. Im now paying the price of taking all those pills for so long with other health issues. Im now a huge believer in natural, organic and healing myself without their pills. Clean living, back to basics, what a difference already. I have bought my supplies, now to start painting to give me ‘me’ time I know I desperately need. My daughters are older and out and about more than home, hubbies work has changed, so I will have this time to finally bring back my creative side. Thank you so much for sharing your story, all of what you have shared is very inspiring.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story as well. Take care of yourself and good luck on your artistic journey!

  9. Hi this may not be helpful but an interesting thing hapened to me a year ago. I got hives on my body every time I got wet when watering my garden or power washing my house. I was on a diet and drinking lots of water,but to flavor the water, I was squeezing lemon in each glass. When I complained to a friend about the hives, she said the lemon is a cleanser of the liver. She thought that I was detoxing my liver and the hives was a resolt of that. Could you be ingesting something regularly that could be the problem? Or did you change your diet when you first started getting the hives? My hives stopped after I stopped drinking so much lemon juice. I know this is a far flung idea. But I hope you can find a cure or an affective way to treat or deal with your health trouble. Sincerely, Nila

    1. Thanks, Nila. It has been a journey but I am no longer suffering. Glad you found the culprit. Please check out the response to Renee’s comment that I just posted for the details, if you’re curious. Thanks again!

  10. Hi Courtney

    I’m so sorry to hear that you’re suffering…you may already know that I have RA. I’m not such an artist, but have always admired you and yours. I hope you have a very peaceful and rejuvenating summer
    Lisa 🙏🏽❤️

    1. I did not know that, Lisa. I hate to hear it. Have you found anything that keeps it at bay? Any dietary changes or environmental things to avoid? I hope y’all are enjoying Washington. Tell Amelia I said, “Hello.” I miss you two.

    2. I’m not trying to diagnose you but I would like to warn you that acrylic paints are not non toxic. You should always, always wear gloves when handling acrylic paints. Also use a respirator if torching or when sanding dried paint. These photos break my heart. I have auto immune “syndrome” which is a way of saying they don’t know what I have. I have had a time when my entire back looked just like your spots and the itching was maddening. Steroids worked for me with that and then I found an amazing dermatologist who got me cleared up perfectly. But his treatments were not typical and insurance won’t pay for them. His creams are compounded and insurance won’t cover them either. They can’t be mass produced because they cannot contain preservatives. I can no longer afford them, so I suffer. Not as badly as I once did and nothing like what you show here but I certainly sympathize with you. I surely hope you find a way to get better. That is so sad. Art is a great and positive distraction from these things. Love your informative posts and videos. Thank you.

      1. Your story sounds very familiaR. I have very good news though. I am thinking about making a video post about it, at least an update to this blog post. I am DONE with conventional medicine! I went to four different doctors and they either didn’t know what I had or said it was “autoimmune” and therefore, like you said unknown cause and chronic, Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria to be precise. The allergist said I could suffer on average of 5-20 years before it disappeared as mysteriously as it began. I refused to accept that and found an Integrative Medicine doctor. He has his MD but looks at the body for the integrated system that it is. Dr. Biddle at Asheville Integrative Medicine not only cured the hives in less than six months, he has cured other issues I have dealt with all my life, because we found they were all related. Makes sense right?! None of the other doctors even did tests. They just looked at me and said your screwed basically. He ran tests for heavy metals, IgE and IgG allergies, blood levels for all kinds of minerals and vitamins and much much more. In the end it wasn’t one smoking gun but so much that was wrong that had built up over the years that my body was sending out smoke signals in the form of hives. I had some slow rolling allergies (IgG) that I take desensitization drops for but he doesn’t think that had anything to do with the hives. I had vit. and min. AND hormone deficiencies and also some metal toxicity so he created a therapy routine for me. He educated me on food and environmental toxicity. I cleaned up my diet and eliminated all fragrances and chemicals, though we were already pretty green. The kicker was identifying an overgrowth of yeast in my intestines. There are tests to be done for this but can be identified through symptoms and treatment as well. He put me on a few months of Nystatin to kill it off and the hives disappeared almost overnight. The other doctors had me on four different kinds of antihistamines AND an anti rejection medication for transplant patients. Now I am on none of it!!! Like you said, insurance wouldn’t cover any of it and it was a lot of money, but he had a lump sum quote up front to fix me and he did. I think of it as an investment in my long term health. We borrowed money from my parents, he had a payment plan. Now, I don’t require long term care. I am so healthy I think I’ll keep going to him once a year out of pocket vs these BS community health centers where one hand doesn’t talk to the other and they don’t care anything about getting to the bottom of the problem. Don’t get me started! I hope you see and read this response in its entirety. I want to shout it from the rooftops but know that the general public don’t know what we have suffered with.

        1. Hello Courtney,
          I am thrilled for you! I too have spent a little over a year with my wonderful Dr. Lisa Ju. She’s an internist, but walked away from traditional medicine because she couldn’t heal people with traditional medicine! She started The Rejuvination Clinic in Gainesville, GA. I’m 71, and knew my time was running out! Get better now, or never! I was planning to suggest that you research LDN, Low Dose Naltrexone, 4.5 mg. It helps so many people overcome unbelievable issues! I can order from other countries, or some doctors in America. More and more every day. Big Pharma tries to keep it out of our country. Anyway, I’m buying a garden shed for my backyard to start my little studio! That’s why I’m watching your videos! You’re wonderful! I’m so glad that you’re well! May God Continue to Bless You! ❤️😘

          1. I am so glad you are feeling better as well. It is hard to find actual cures these days, rather than just cover up medications. I appreciate you watching my channel. I hope it helps! Good luck with your artistic endeavors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *