Over the last fifteen years now, I've made my health into a career by being completely open and raw with people both online and off. In doing so, this has led to life-changing experiences and would do everything all over again if I could.
It all began as a mission to raise awareness of a genetic syndrome I live with and led to utter profoundly moving and mind blowing moments that still impact me to this day.
In 2008, when I was twenty-four years old, I received the diagnosis of 22Q and everything changed for the better. At first, the diagnosis through me through a loop and wasn't sure how to cope with the overwhelming information and stress of learning about this genetic condition. In fact, I hit rock bottom, however, it was a wakeup call I needed.
Then, in 2009, my health took a turn after I discovered that I have yet another heart defect and almost had a second open heart surgery. For seven months of undergoing medical test after medical test, all I could do was wait. It was a block of time when I was down and couldn't do much of anything. But I didn't waste it and didn't dwell in the fear of the unknown.
I made the decision not to despair. By some stroke of luck, the surgery was cancelled and something amazing had begun.
I took advantage of the time I had available to get serious about what I wanted from life. I asked those game-changing questions:
1. What do I want from this life?
2. How do I want to live now?
3. What do I not want?
One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to create, so I embarked on the most creative period of my existence. Still, to this day, I am on this creative journey and have learned to make the most of every day. It's how I've managed to not fall into a hole of despair when my health and symptoms become vicious and cruel.
Then, in 2019 and 2020, again, all I did was art while I was staying home or quarantining. Fast-forward two years later to now, and we're still in this Coronavirus pandemic with variants to concern ourselves with. It's been strange having to quarantine again in year three of the pandemic. Art saved me again, though, as it always does.
Through the processes of creating and sharing, these actionable steps have resulted in gaining more meaning in my life.
By sharing your story, your struggles with your health or adversities you've faced, you may build a community of individuals facing the same obstacles as you. Even if you don't consider yourself a creative person, simply being open about who you are and your truth can profoundly impact and influence anybody who reads or hears your story.
What's difficult about these times is the uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 variants. Immunocompromised and immune-deficient individuals like myself have no choice but to hunker down and stay in the confinements of the same walls. I haven't left my home since last July and this hasn't fazed me in the slightest. But if you are struggling with anxiety and depression regarding the new normal, think about how you can benefit from this down time at home.
Consider pursuing creative hobbies and share them with your community. Back in 2020, I started a YouTube channel teaching people not only how to produce beautiful art but also the benefits art has on mental and physical health. I posted a photo of a drawing I did to my Facebook page and suddenly was overloaded, in the best way, with people asking me if I'm accepting portrait commisions.
Right from home, I started a portrait drawing business and this has led to the development of a community of art enthusiasts and those seeking relief from health struggles. Artists have been, in the nicest terms, severely messed over in the pandemic. But really, simultaneously, our brains and minds crave it and its healing effects.
Try not to dread this down time at home, if you are, and instead, use it to the fullest. Creativity and the process of creating alleviates depression and anxiety-induced symptoms. In fact, studies show that just looking at a piece of art stimulates and activates the brain in extraordinary ways. The next time you're feeling bored or fearful of the unknown, consider pursuing those hobbies you may have been putting off.
By engaging your hands, mind, and brain, your body from head to toe are reaping amazing healing benefits.