Part Three of Blogging About Your Illness: The Benefits

Part I.

Part II.

Part III. The Benefits of Blogging About Your Illness

Art has healing power. When I say art I mean all the arts: music, dance, sculpture, storytelling, journaling, painting, whatever we usually think of as the creative arena. Writing is art, therefore writing has healing power. I also find I’m making art on my blog in the sense that I use a lot of pictures on my blog posts. I use Flickr to find most of the pictures I use, but there is also PhotoBuket and probably many other sites where people post their pictures and if they allow you to use them, you can easily add them to your blog. It's also incredibly easy to add video and audio to your blog, for an all around super creative (and healing) result!

Mike Samuels, M.D. is one of the leading pioneers in exploring creativity as an important part of every person’s healing journey. He says:
"Physicians and nurses are discovering that art can have profound healing effects on their patients. Art brings to the human spirit a sense of freedom and joy. The spirit freed helps the body heal. Replacing fear with hope and darkness with light is the essence of modern body-mind-spirit medicine.”
Scientific studies tell us that art heals by changing a person's physiology and attitude. The body's physiology changes from one of stress to one of deep relaxation, from one of fear to one of creativity and inspiration. Art puts a person in a different brain wave pattern; art affects a person's autonomic nervous system, their hormonal balance and their brain neurotransmitters. Art affects every cell in the body instantly to create a healing physiology that changes the immune system and blood flow to all the organs. Art also immediately changes a person's perceptions of their world. It changes attitude, emotional state, and pain perception. It creates hope and positivity and it helps people cope with difficulties. It transforms a person's outlook and way of being in the world.

Alex Grey, Visionary Healing Artist, http://alexgrey.com/

In fact it is now known by neurophysiologists that art, prayer, and healing all come from the same source in the body, they all are associated with similar brain wave patterns, mind body changes and they all are deeply connected in feeling and meaning. Art, prayer, and healing all take us into our inner world, the world of imagery and emotion, of visions and feelings. This journey inward into what used to be called the spirit or soul and is now sometimes called the mind, is deeply healing. For healing comes to us from within; our own healing resources are freed to allow our immune system to operate optimally and that is always how we heal.

The artist is you. No training is needed. Just start blogging/writing. Your blog doesn't have to be public to help you heal.

Here are some important facts about art:
• Participation in artistic activities can have measurable physiological results such as, reducing stress, improving the immune system, and easing pain.
• Creating art gives a voice and language to unknown emotions, feelings and behaviors.
• Tapping into our creative energy can help a person to feel more alive, to gain inner wisdom, and to stay more completely in the present moment.
• When creating art, it uses the emotional and intuitive aspects of a person.
It has been said that from the era of the Internet a "new patient" would emerge, one who researched his or her ailments in the comfort of home, then challenged a doctor with the newly acquired knowledge. Arthur Frank says that sick blogs and patient pages are evidence that that moment has arrived, a sign that the new patient has gained an unprecedented sense of empowerment from her online community. Empowerment is definitely a benefit.

Frank's book “The Wounded Storyteller” also identifies the voice we all need to access in the battle with life-threatening or life-altering illness. When we recognize this struggle as an opportunity for journey, we can also recognize the call to help others currently in the "trenches" of illness, to bring about their healing. I definitely feel called to write and those are two of the reasons why: it helps me to access “the voice” I need to battle illness; and for me the writing itself has turned out to be an opportunity to help others with invisible illness which has led to other opportunities to help that don’t involve writing, such as facilitating support groups.

As Arthur Frank wrote, quest narratives are about finding the insight that comes as illness is transformed into a means for the ill person to become someone new. I think the big picture of what's happening to me, and what I'm chronicling in my blog is somewhat of a quest narrative. I'm in the process of figuring out what my life is going to be since it can't be what I originally intended, due to the monkey wrench of chronic illness which life has thrown me. There's a metamorphosis happening here and I am only able to see it because my writing in my blog, and in my local FM support group newsletter before that, has helped me reflect on it and recognize it.

I haven't read that many books on the subject, but I doubt that I'll ever encounter one that's a better example of a quest narrative than Gilda Radner's "It's Always Something".



At the end of the book Gilda says "Like my life, this book is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next."

We should all hope for such insight into our illness and our lives.

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