Battling the Sjögren’s Blues With Creative Art Therapy

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by Rena Newman |

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Raynaud's, creative art therapy, wooden tooth, Diary of a Sjogie

It happens. Everyone gets the blues from time to time. For us Sjögies, it can be the “Sjögren’s blues.” How could we not become a little glum when faced with the unique challenges that accompany this rare, lesser-known disease?

There are various ways to battle the blues, but one of my favorites is creative art therapy.

I like to think I’m a content, grateful, positive person for the most part, but there are times I get sad or depressed, sometimes for no specific reason.

“Melancholy Delight.” (Courtesy of Derrian Childress)

Last week, I experienced an episode of the Sjögren’s blues that came on suddenly after I attempted to clean the cat’s litter box. I knew it would be a challenge, but I wanted to try a new technique that involved sitting on the floor rather than bending down, which is too tiring and painful.

This ended up being a mistake because I got stuck! I couldn’t lift my body up on my own. I couldn’t turn my body to the side, and I couldn’t lie down, either.

“Help, I sat down and I can’t get up!” I thought. “Just call Life Alert.” All because I was seated, scooping poop nuggets out of a litter box. After laughing at myself, it set in just how humbling of an experience this was. Luckily, my hubby, Joe, was home and lifted me up off the floor.

Afterward, I felt a heaviness come over me. I tried to weep, but there weren’t many tears since Sjögren’s decided to suck me dry. It was like there was a vacuum placed inside my — what’s it called again? Oh, right — lacrimal gland.

I sighed, then said, “Can someone please slap a serotonin patch on me?”

At this point, I knew I needed to do something more than think about my cats, plants, porcelain dolls, and happy wall, which sometimes snap me out of it. I even have a list of coping skills that’s also helpful for when I get down, but this was a time for my creative art therapy.

“Art In My Belly.” (Courtesy of Derrian Childress)

I enjoy creative art therapy because I get to escape, let go, and get lost in another dimension. It’s also a time for me to release and process things. My main creative art forms are writing, music, and drawing. This week, I used music. It didn’t change what had happened, but I felt a little better.

The Sjögren’s blues can hit at any time, during any season, and without warning or any specific reason. Creative art therapy is a fabulous way for me to cope. If you’re curious or interested, check out what a study published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed about the impact of therapeutic art forms on mental health and chronic illness.

“Expressive art therapy integrates all of the arts in a safe, non-judgmental setting to facilitate personal growth and healing. To use the arts expressively means going into our inner realms to discover feelings and to express them through visual art, movement, sound, writing or drama. This process fosters release, self-understanding, insight and awakens creativity and transpersonal states of consciousness.” – Natalie Rogers, PhD

“Art opens the closets, airs out the cellars and attics. It brings healing.” – Julia Cameron

If you get the Sjögren’s blues, have you tried, or are you considering trying, creative art therapy? Please share your thoughts or experiences in the comments below.

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Note: Sjögren’s Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sjögren’s Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Sjögren’s syndrome.

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