Category: Photography

Chronic Pain & Illness Online Photo Project 2017

chronic pain photo projectThe 3rd Annual Chronic Pain & Illness Photography Project starts March 1, 2017! This is a FREE 14-day therapeutic photography e-course for women who live with chronic pain or illness. The project takes place in a closed Facebook group. Each day there will be a photo prompt related to chronic pain/illness. Participate as much or as little as you would like. No experience necessary. Just use your phone-camera, snap away and share in the group. The course is for newcomers and previous participants! I can’t stress enough that you do not need any photography experience.

“This [project] has changed my life, my marriage and my entire outlook on my illness. Your project saved me in a way I can never repay. It has sincerely been life changing and I’m forever grateful to you for it.” ~2015 Participant, Jenna

MORE DETAILS:
As noted, the course takes place in a CLOSED Facebook group. The daily photo prompts will all be related to pain/illness and will include an explanation of how to approach each topic. Past prompts have included: acceptance of pain/illness, gratitude, and goals. You and the other participants will then take and post a photo along with a few sentences about your experience related to the prompt. You are also encouraged to reflect on and comment on other participants’ photos. The personal nature of the group quickly creates a supportive environment to share and many lasting friendships are often created.

Have a look at some of previous years’ photos. Hear what past participants thought about the project here.

WHY PHOTOGRAPHY?:
Photography can be incredibly healing for those of us with chronic pain/illness. Photography allows us to express feelings about our pain/illness we might not otherwise be able to. To learn more about the benefits of photography for pain/illness click here.

REGISTER by March 1, 2017: Click here to sign-up. You will receive the link to the projects’ Facebook group in a confirmation email once you register.

I am really excited to be offering this project again after such an enriching and successful project last year. I hope you will join this fun and healing project.

Chronic Pain & Illness Online Photo Project 2016

therapeutic photography The 2nd Annual Chronic Pain & Illness Photography Project starts April 1, 2016! This is a FREE 14-day therapeutic photography e-course for people who live with chronic pain or illness. The project takes place in a closed Facebook group. Each day there will be a photo prompt related to chronic pain/illness. Participate as much or as little as you would like. No experience necessary. Just use your phone-camera, snap away and share in the group. The course is for previous participants and newcomers! I can’t stress enough that you do not need any photography experience.

“This [project] has changed my life, my marriage and my entire outlook on my illness. Your project saved me in a way I can never repay. It has sincerely been life changing and I’m forever grateful to you for it.” ~2015 Participant, Jenna

MORE DETAILS:
As noted, the course takes place in a CLOSED Facebook group. The daily photo prompts will all be related to pain/illness and will include an explanation of how to approach each topic. Past prompts have included: acceptance of pain/illness, gratitude, and goals. You and the other participants will then take and post a photo along with a few sentences about your experience related to the prompt. You are also encouraged to reflect on and comment on other participants’ photos. The personal nature of the group quickly creates a supportive environment to share and many lasting friendships are often created.

Have a look at some of last year’s photos. Hear what past participants thought about the project here.

WHY PHOTOGRAPHY?:
Photography can be incredibly healing for those of us with chronic pain/illness. Photography allows us to express feelings about our pain/illness we might not otherwise be able to. To learn more about the benefits of photography for pain/illness click here.

REGISTER by March 31, 2016: Click here to sign-up. You will receive the link to the projects’ Facebook group in a confirmation email once you register.

I am really excited to be offering this project again after such an enriching and successful project last year. I hope you will join this fun and healing project.

Share a clothesPAIN selfie for Pain Awareness Week

#livingwithpain

To bring awareness to Pain Awareness Week (November 1-7, 2015) I am promoting Pain BC’s ClothesPAIN Experiment and anyone who submits a ClothesPAIN selfie to Chronic Pain Life will be entered into a random draw for an item, of the winner’s choice, from my Spoonie Store (a couple of new items will be in the store this week!).

INSTRUCTIONS for the ClothesPAIN experiment:
Take a clothespin and pin it to your ear for 1 hour. Snap a selfie and share what #livingwithpain feels like. Challenge your family and friends to participate…let them get a little taste of what it is like to live with pain…how pain can consume one’s thoughts, drain one’s energy and affect one’s mood.

Although the clothespin is not representative of actual chronic pain, using a clothespin on the ear is a common tool used when training healthcare providers about chronic pain and has been proven to be a good way to raise people’s understanding of what it can be like to live with pain.

To enter the draw*:
1) Post your photo in the “Chronic Pain Life” Facebook group.
2) Post your photo to Instagram; tag and follow @chronicpainlife.
3) Tweet your photo; tag and follow @cpainlife.
4) Share this post.

You will get one entry for EACH method of submission. The draw will take place on November 8, 2015.

*By entering a photo in the draw you agree to allow Chronic Pain Life to use your photo on Chronic Pain Life’s website and social media.

Invisible Fight Photo Gallery

#myinvisiblefight
“I struggle with more than just ‪#‎narcolepsy‬ — but this is a very visible reminder of ‪#‎myinvisiblefight‬” – Gina

 

I have received some really powerful photos from people showing their #invisiblefight with illness and/or pain. Check out the gallery of images so far! You still have time to submit a photo in order to be entered in a draw for a pair of Spoonie Earrings in honor of Invisible Illness Awareness Week.

*Read submission details here.

What is your Invisible Fight? Share a photo and win a pair of Spoonie Earrings!

The #myinvisiblefight Photo Campaign has been launched by Invisible Illness Awareness Week and since Chronic Pain Life is all about promoting the therapeutic value of photography, for individuals living with pain/illness, we have been asked to help promote the campaign! So we are going to showcase a photo gallery on our website of your #myinvisiblefight photos. Submit your photo to be included in our online photo gallery and you will have a chance to win a pair of Spoonie Earrings!

#myinvisiblefight3 WAYS TO ENTER THE DRAW:
1.  Join the Chronic Pain Life Facebook group and post a photo of your “Invisible Fight”. Be sure to tag it #myinvisiblefight.
OR
2.  Post a photo of your “Invisible Fight” on Instagram, tag me @chronicpainlife and hashtag #myinvisiblefight.
OR
3.  Email me a photo at info@chronicpainlife.com.


*Winner will be randomly selected on the last day of Invisible Illness Awareness Week – October 4, 2015.

*Your name will be kept confidential.
*By entering the contest you permit Chronic Pain Life to display your photo on our gallery page and use it for future purposes. Your name will be kept confidential unless otherwise requested. 

Join the 21-Day Chronic Pain/Illness Photo Project

chronic pain photo projectI am hosting a 21-Day Chronic Pain/Illness Photo Project in a closed Facebook group starting Monday, April 27, 2015. Each day there will be a photo prompt related to chronic pain/illness. Participate as much or as little as you would like. No experience necessary. Just use your phone-camera, snap away and share in the group.

If you are interested in joining the project click on this link.

Follow Chronic Pain Life on Instagram – @chronicpainlife
Hashtag your chronic pain photos with #chronicpaininfocus.

How drawing, music and photography have helped me, a non-artist, deal with chronic pain

chronic pain art mandala
My chronic pain mandala

Six years ago if you had told me that drawing or music could assist me in dealing with my pain I would have said, “no way, I am not an artist and I need medical treatment not art or music”.  Interestingly as the years passed and my pain and disability increased, I opened up to the idea of utilizing the Arts to help me deal with the pain. I realized that the Arts can be an excellent form of distraction from pain and, on a deeper level, a way to explore and express my feelings about living with chronic pain.

Art Therapy brought the tears forth…
I remember the first time my counsellor suggested that I use art to explore my feelings regarding chronic pain. I said “oh no, I am not artistic”. He persevered though and convinced me to go home and try drawing with pastels and just see what would happen. Let’s just say I was EXTREMELY reluctant and very skeptical as for one, I “couldn’t” draw and two I didn’t understand how art could possibly help with the suffering my chronic pain was causing me. I had been doing traditional counselling for some time, including the highly-touted cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as well as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and felt I had reached a plateau with these more mainstream types of therapy. I knew I needed to try something different.

So after my session that day I pulled out a some paper and pastels and sat there staring down blankly for what seemed like an eternity. I finally starting drawing the only thing I knew how to, a daisy. Hmmm I thought that didn’t reveal anything knew to me. I turned the page over and stared at its blankness. Before, I knew it, I grabbed a dark brown pastel and started to draw a circle over and over in the centre of the page. I added black to it. A deep dark pit that transformed into an eye. I drew tears falling from it. There were so many tears falling from the eye that they created an ocean that I drew over the entire bottom two-thirds of the page. I stared at the drawing, stunned that my hand had just created the image. Soon, real tears were falling from my eyes and falling into the ocean on the page below. I allowed the sadness to pour out of me. I wailed, I cried, I yelled. I did this for about half an hour until I was tired and exhausted but a whole lot lighter. I realized that I had been holding an ocean full of tears inside me for quite a while now. Drawing had allowed me to access my feelings again, which lately I held in tightly as I was trying so hard to be strong and to hold myself together.

Music Therapy brought joy…
Next my therapist suggested I try exploring music. Well this prompted more anxiety than when he had suggested drawing. Flashbacks of skipping out of high school band class flooded my mind as I remembered how I would do anything to avoid playing my flute. I came back to the present moment and reminded myself of how helpful drawing had turned out to be. I agreed to go home and play a recorder. Yes, a recorder…that funny plastic instrument we had to play in elementary school. I called up my best friend and asked her 8-year old daughter if I could borrow hers. They arrived on my doorstep a few minutes later with the recorder in hand ready to witness my musical talents! I must say recorders have improved in appearance…no longer brown and cream coloured, this one was all colours of the rainbow! I was immediately inspired and in giggles before I even touched my lips to the mouthpiece. Once I regained a little composure, my fingers quickly found their places over the holes and I immediately remembered how to play “Hot Cross Buns”. What fun! I absolutely howled with laughter each time I finished playing the song. It was seriously the most fun I had had and the hardest I had laughed in so long.

While drawing had provided me with a way to release my tears, the recorder allowed me to let go, be in the moment, laugh, reconnect with my inner child, and escape the reeling thoughts about pain.

I then brought art and music to my Chronic Pain Support Group…
After personally experiencing the benefits of drawing and music, I decided both would make great topics for the chronic pain support group I was facilitating.
I coordinated with one of the members and we organized a meeting where all the members sat and drew their own mandala (just google if you want the details on what a mandala actually is). It was fascinating to see how each person’s mandala was unique in colour and design. As we sat working on our creations, the group members shared personal examples of how engaging in making art allowed them to escape feelings of pain, even if only briefly.

For another meeting, I collaborated with a member who was a piano teacher. I shared the story about my recorder therapy session and talked about the numerous studies I had read showing that just listening to music can ease the level of pain one feels. Our resident piano player provided her own testimony of how music was her main escape from pain. She handed us each a cd of her beautiful music. Her classical piano cd has helped me many times, to calm down when the a pain flare has occurred, and I am on the verge of panic. Other days I put on my “Fun” playlist on my iPod and crank it up. Even if I am bedridden, I can’t help but feel uplifted. It has become clear to me that music can be very powerful for those of us struggling with chronic pain.

My favourite artistic outlet though is photography…
Prior to being disabled with chronic pain, I travelled the world taking photos of sites around the globe. When my disability prevented me from ever travelling again, I put down my camera too. A couple of years later, I picked it back up when I started Susannah Conway‘s online course, “Unravelling”. The class was about exploring your inner self through the use of photography. As I worked through each of the “assignments” I was shocked by how taking pictures of my reflection and even my feet could be transformative experiences. Sharing and explaining these photos with fellow course participants further increased the positive impact.

I learned how powerful photos of “everyday” things could be. Since that course, I have rarely put my camera down. Even when I am bedridden I take photos of my cats on the bed or I open up my computer, edit photos from the past and share them on the Internet. These various processes allow me to escape my current circumstances, provide an outlet for my feelings, offer me a way to share my reality and a avenue to connect with others. This past year I even created a daily theme photography group on Facebook, called “Life in Focus“.

Next, I plan on starting a project called “Pain in Focus“. My mission for this project is that it will encourage individuals to use photography to express and share their feelings about, and the reality of, living with chronic pain. I hope to have the project “live” by November for National Pain Awareness Week. Please check my blog for updates or email me at info@chronicpainsupport.ca.

My favourite links about the Arts and Chronic Pain…
Pain Exhibit – the PAIN Exhibit is an educational, visual arts exhibit from artists with chronic pain with their art expressing some facet of the pain experience. The mission is to educate healthcare providers and the public about chronic pain through art, and to give voice to the many who suffer in abject silence.

Para las fridas (for the Fridas) – my favourite blog about chronic pain. Like me this blogger is an appreciator of the amazing artist and chronic pain sufferer, Frida Kahlo.

Can the Arts ease your chronic pain? – an episode on Pain Waves Radio by Pain BC.

Artist Erin “Eebee” Fromkes” Invisible illness Advocate – I love following her creativity on her Facebook page as well on Instagram. She is a self-described “free spirit trapped in a sick body. Inching my way back to recovery daily and living to make art.”