Fibromyalgia, Trauma, and Healing…

Just capturing current thoughts in this post, I could source and link the research, but I’m just not  up for it now… however, if you have questions on it, leave a comment, and I’ll try to come back to it soon ❤

Here we go:

There are links between developing fibromyalgia and experiencing trauma.

Trauma is anything your brain can’t process.

Fibromyalgia is essentially having a brain stuck in fight or flight mode.

The bio-psycho-social model of addressing pain is relevant, and I don’t know why it’s taken doctors all my adult life to understand that everything is connected, when they wouldn’t believe me it was from the start.

I’m really glad to have found a few doctors who seem to GET IT. Including the newest few practitioners.

I’m interested in pursuing this EMDR treatment to address trauma.

These are all pieces of a structure that’s working to build healing.

I’m interested in further exploring all of this and it’s connections to art, particularly the method of art I’ve been practicing, and how I might use it to help heal trauma for others in the future.

IF I EVER FEEL BETTER. thoughts. hope.

off to walk the dog, get some sunshine, and then come home and paint it all out.

It’s the same source…

Everything I make is an echo of something infinitely larger and infinitely smaller than myself. It’s within my programming, something I understand and carry with me to everything I do. It’s beyond words. It’s a feeling that’s both the most true and the most mysterious, like some shiny rock I keep turning in my hands, studying, peering into, holding up to the light, examining in the shadows. Everything I make, photographs, graphic design projects, sketches, paintings, sculpture, etc., each of these is just an iteration of something of greater importance. It doesn’t exactly matter what I make primarily, at any given time, what matters is what I bring to it, and being open to that great unnameable thing.


At the pain center fibromyalgia group, we talked about ways to distract ourselves from pain. Things that engage the mind, such as puzzle games were common. Some people had another coping mechanism, like a fidget cube or a tapping habit. In physical therapy they taught us how to do tiny motions, that wouldn’t cause stress to your muscles or increase your pain, but just send another signal to your brain other than the pain. Another method on that uses the same science is using a light tracing with a finger or something gentle to counteract pain signals. It sounds weird, but when I was in really terrible pain, I would have my husband lightly brush the palms my hands with a soft round watercolor brush. It would help me get the pain under control. TENS machines work for the same reason, and I think this is why sensory stimuli are so popular culturally right now.

Google ASMR, if you don’t already know what it is. Look at how things like playing with slime, cutting sand, and other sensory experiences are popular on Instagram and YouTube.

I have heard that even though we’re more connected than ever, we’re also more lonely. I don’t doubt it. Is it possible that we’re seeking these simple sensory experiences because we’re lacking simple sensory experiences? Maybe we’re in so much pain from our cultural PTSD, that we’re looking to cancel out those painful signals we’re receiving with some other stimuli? I think about this a lot, and what it means for us, our personal and societal mental health, and physical well being. Are sand cutting videos and people pretending to cut our hair taking place of authentic and connected touch?

And what role can art play in this?

Art Herstory.

One of the things I loved about art history in college was how my professor (who taught most of my art history classes at Seton Hill) would tell us all the stories about these artists. While I have always had to work hard to memorize dates and names, the feelings come to me easily. There were so many interesting facets to who these artists were that I hadn’t heard before. It truly helped me understand their work, in all its context.  I especially enjoyed getting all of my art history from female professors, at a newly co-ed university.  It was different, and so much more engaging than the couple art history courses I had in foundation studies at the Columbus College of Art and Design. Smaller classes, and actual discussions that facilitated a conversation of how women fit into the traditional narrative of, well, everything. I had never felt so supported and connected as I did surrounded by so many women artists. It was there, that I really had space to examine how I hadn’t felt that before, how I hadn’t ever really connected to “the Church”, or various parts of society and culture, because women’s stories aren’t told.

An incredibly influential moment for me was in a women in religion class, where we were discussing how women aren’t represented in the Church, how women actually founded the Church, and how we might reclaim some space in our selves to connect to it again. Sitting with this emptiness and contemplating it led me to paint it, and become more interested in Buddhist ideas on meditation and intentional emptiness.  I didn’t paint very much after graduation, as I was studying art therapy and doing photography. I went to the Savannah College of Art & Design for my master’s in photography, leaving my art therapy master’s on hold indefinitely.  I just picked up painting consistently again about 3 years ago after going through substantial loss. I had to direct myself into something – painting emptiness, and making tiny sculptural bowls that held only space seemed to be the most sensical thing I could do.

One of the things I have missed since being at Seton Hill is absolutely that perspective that women have existed, contributed significantly, and have not received proper credit for this. Women exist in history, even if it isn’t well documented or taken seriously by rich white men.

I have realized that, even among the woke fellows that I know, they’re not the best at listening, understanding, or representing the work of women. I want to to be taken seriously. I want women’s work to be taken seriously. I want other women to know that women have come before them, and will come after them, and to see their place in all of this.  This is exactly why I was so excited to discover a podcast called, Art for Your Ear, by The Jealous Curator (Danielle Krysa). There is much dialogue about all the varied valid ways that women artists exist, and discussion about the trials faced.  In fact, Danielle has a new book coming out soon called, “A BIG IMPORTANT ART BOOK (NOW WITH WOMEN!)” that I can’t wait to get my hands on.