#healing, Adult child, Being empowered, Blogging, healing, Heart, life lessons, Life medicine, Patient, Patient journey, self-care, Soul journey, Writing

Could your CREATIVE talent become your healing therapy?

Back in my student days, I lived in a house where an art therapist also resided. Art therapy wasn’t a big thing in those days. He was viewed with a mixture of fascination and pity… pity for how little demand there was for his business and how ‘broke’ he always seemed to be, fascination for the fact that it all seemed a bit ‘out there’, a whimsical way to make a living, and perhaps because of this, kind of enviable too…

‘Real life’ advised the more secure and solid path I was travelling on… college, a job, a house, a mortgage… as though nothing could go wrong with that plan…

The art of being creative… emotion stirred, expression fostered, total absorption in the moment and perhaps a healing practice too

but it could… because ‘real life’ also turned out to involve illness and loss and other challenges and when these things hit, there came the quest to ‘find a way’ to get through them.

I have written before about how family, faith, nature, love, kindness and finding my tribe all became vital parts of my healing journey. (Click here for other blogs) But so did getting my creative juices flowing…

The spark seemed almost accidental, casual, unplanned, and yet with reflection I realise it was anything but…

Back in the early dark days post illness one day while suffering a severe tired spell, I mimed the act of needing a pen to write something down to my Dad. This was a common need back then… when fatigue and depletion from merely being up for a few hours, always seemed to lead to a slow, but large and poweful wave of disability that would seep into every part of the body, until all was rendered defunct for a while.

My Dad duly opened his glasses case, plucked out a pen and handed it to me. But after scrawling some request or other on a post-it note, my focus was suddenly drawn to the pen itself. It felt somehow familiar but I wasn’t sure how. . I kept twirling it around between my fingers… and then I felt some engraving on one side of it and it all came rushing back to me…

It was a present from one of my closest friends in life, given to me when I was 13 years old as a Christmas gift. She had engraved the date along with my name on the pen. It would be a keepsake for life.

Except it was by now over 25 years since I had held it in my hand. And in the intervening time life had been busy, first as a student and then travelling abroad, getting married, having children, and the pen had been left in my childhood home. So it had fallen off my radar if truth be told, until that day my Dad had handed it to me, not only over two decades on from receiving it, but some three years after the death of the dear friend who had given it to me.

When friendship calls… & encourages!

That she had died of a heart issue, while I was now recovering from the sudden development of one was not lost on me. And then as if to confirm the fate that had befallen us both, I saw the symbol on the pen, as if for the first time, a papermate whose symbol was in fact two hearts.

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She was always encouraging me to write. I knew instantly this was her promt to write again, about all the was happening, this shocking, sudden, sickly event that was in fact a horror story.

But I was too weak, too mentally frazzled trying to process my new life as a heart failure patient, post a Spontaneous Coronary Artery dissection, post open heart surgery, post defibrillator implantation, that there was no fuel to do so.

There’s a time when we can feel too ill to create, but if the creative seed is planted, once the soil comes right, that seed will eventually sprout

Then, about 6 months later, came the counselling, the talking it out, the need to process mentally the physical avalanche. And then one day, as a Christmas gift, the counsellor handed me a selection of hard backed notebooks and invited me to take one and to start using that pen.

And I did. I started to write everything down, every dark feeling, every challenging thought, every worry for the future. It was like throwing up onto a page, only to discover that yes despite the immediate ugliness and unpleasantness, there was a great relief, ease, and even peace to be found thereafter.

The journaling became a lunch time ritual. While my baby girl slept, and my boys were at school I wrote. I wrote and I wrote, spewing up every piece of darkness that had been living within.

But an interesting thing began to happen. The words of despair, began to be followed by words of hope. The pen, by my own hand, started to write out the possible solutions to those same problems, the ways I might try to handle the problems. But the ideas appearing on the page, were like a surprise revelation to me, their author, as though coming not from me, but something beyond me, that somehow knew how I might handle this thing for the better.

The daily ritual of release became like a spiritual practice… wholesome, comforting, connecting me with something bigger that was giving me hope

Writing became like a spiritual practice that nourished and healed. Years later my writing became this blog.

When I started this blog nearly two years ago, I wanted to share with other patients and those struggling in life the idea that even when life feels umbearably dark and impossible, we can draw on our inklings, our faith, each other, to see our way through, and that that act of connecting with all, allows us to find a way of securing hope, in spite of, and perhaps because of, that challenge.

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I have had many messages since the beginning from patients who see their lives reflected in my posts and find comfort and hope from it. What an honour and privilege for me to hear that my writing helps someone feel less invisible, less alone, less hopeless because of that identification. But for me, it’s not of me as much as something fed through me for the next person facing the dark… it’s the power of the creative spirit that flows through us all, and when we catch how it flows best through us, or pours best from us, we can use it for not just our own good, but perhaps for the good of others too.

So next time you receive that prompt to create, to express, to utilise that gift you have, that talent that’s always been there, under the surface, niggling away… go there, indulge, give it the time and know that it is likely a calling to produce a unique medicine that only you can make for your life, a medicine which might bring healing to your own heart, and perhaps a few other hearts too.

Le grà


You can follow Pauline O’Shea on linkedin or through ‘The healing of life’ Facebook or Instagram pages, or by email.

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