Thursday, June 17, 2010

My first Fibro photo, and on coming out of the "medical closet" on this- the scariest thing I've ever done!

I wrote this for my fibro blogs:
  • - A "mirror" of the one below, created because I wanted a presence on blogger, as many other fibro sufferers blog there.
  • - my "personal journey" blog
  • - Displays the art I do as therapy, and encourages others to do likewise
With this and most such posts though, I will be cross posting here to multiply (and by extension to FaceBook.) is my "root" blog, and will remain so.

However as I've done with the Word Pictures and toothbrush rugs, I find it worth while to have blogs more narrowly focused so people with an interest in these matters can find worthwhile material without having to sift through the eclectic range of things which interest me.

First, the art

This image is the first one I created for the project.And here is the original
First off, I love taking pictures of things in shadow (not just myself) because its visually compelling and has nice symbolism to it.The concept of the shadow is a powerful one.In Jungian pyschology, the shadow is the part of our "self" (id, psychae, what ever) which is hidden, repressed, not integrated into the whole.Scripture talks of this world itself as a shadow, as in 1st Corinthians 13:12, the verse which lent its name to my "Word Pictures" project. A compelling image I did with this verse is here.The top image was created from the original by running it through one of PhotoFiltre's engraving filters.The result is exactly what I was after, for it conveys quite vividly how the pain and related aspects of fibro distort reality, darken and warp the suffer's experience of it.Yet you'll notice the gold bits. No matter how thick the fog or overwhelming the pain, there is yet good to be had and embraced. This is a good practice for anyone, but for someone living with a chronic disease/syndrome, its essential.My 2nd eldest brother would appreciate that black and gold are also the colors of his alma mater- Purdue. Don't think that was in my mind when I created it, but its a fun thought.So this image depicts what is for me the most oppressive and distressing aspect of fibromyalgia- "fibro fog."I can't say that working with photography clears the fog... rather it renders it irrelevant. For some reason, no matter how thick the fog, how heavy the pain, I am always able to tap into my dynamic creativity.I become lost in the project, and in this, I find my greatest relief.Besides showing how I cope with and transcend Fibromyalgia, it is my hope that these blogs have the following effects:
  • They encourage others to likewise tap into their core, embrace and express it
  • They give expression to the experience of chronic suffering more effectively than words are able to.

Now why it was scary

It was a difficult decision... coming out of the medical closet about this.The two reasons above are very compelling ones. It has always been my way that when life dumps a load of manure, I compost it and grow flowers from it. This has not changed with the onset of fibromyalgia, only the means available to me to do so.I'm not easily scared either...
  • When I did my chaplaincy residency, I was the resident for the Trauma and E.R., and relished the opportunity to be in situations most people would give anything to have nothing to do with.
  • When we lived in Chicago, I embraced the city
  • When the opportunity came to preach my father's funeral sermon, I was honored to take the task upon myself.
Things don't scare me, what scares me are more existential concepts- injustice, xenophobia, hatred, and the like.Yet... anyone who has been needy or suffering knows the pain which comes when people turn away from them in their time of need precisely because they are needy.As a Christian, when this happens I find myself thinking that in this I share something in common with Christ, of whom it was prophesiedIsaiah 53:3 (English Standard Version)He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.That doesn't make it fun or pleasant, nor something I wished for myself.I never woke up and said, "Why should my wife have all the fun! I want to have an incurable complex and ruthlessly painful condition too!"(You see, my wife is disabled with migraines, has been for half a decade.)A Psalm of lament describes this experience most vividly.Psalm 22: 6But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. (ESV)When we lived in Chicago, I conducted an informal ministry to the street volk, of whom this is even more true. I saw people not even bother to step over them... they literally walked ON them.I was honored to receive permission from many to share a bit of their life and story online. A lot of it is pretty raw and graphic, this is one of the few fit for a family audience:
I'm sure anyone who's ever been in a time of need and found friends fleeing fast as their feet can carry them understands.Here is an artistic project I did with photos with this fellow, whom I miss and for whom I pray ever day.
But this is more than a collection of symptoms, a medical term, this is an opportunity...
  • to speak words of comfort to others who are suffering,
  • and to use the skills with words and the visual arts to give voice to our experiences.
I hope it does at least one of these for you.

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