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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)


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2 thoughts on “Art as Catharsis – Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria

  1. 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.

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