BC WOMEN – PAIN PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT
The following photos were taken by British Columbian women that live with chronic pain/illness. These women shared these photos and words as part of the 2018 Chronic Pain & Illness Photo Project.
Balance – I try to keep a balanced day between my pain and activities. It is not always easy & at times I struggle. Just as mother nature struggles to keep a balance between the sun & the rain over the mountain.
Balance – Bought this perfectly balanced knife many years ago at the beginning of my career. As you can see I still have it. It’s still a beautifully balanced knife. I’m the one without balance now.
Balance – Serenity Prayer done on my beads…. prayer and meditation help me keep my thoughts from racing to silly places and let me keep myself open to the possibilities. For me, this brings serenity. Serenity = Balance
Balance – This photo represents balance between being able to use a walking stick for long trail vs having to use my cane even for short distances, my yoga mat I use on both good and some bad pain days,sometimes I can do the yoga other days I can’t, so I just lie down and meditate.
Gratitude – I’m so grateful for my Ginger Cat. She makes me smile every day. We rescued each other, really.
Gratitude – I am grateful for so many things in my life, including gentle yoga and aqua fit classes, on-line painting classes , music, etc. all of which help me to feel better emotionally and physically.
Light – “Let there be love. Let there be light. Let there be hope in the dark of the night”
Peace – Being deeply within nature brings me the greatest peace – the multi-sensory impacts of these settings heals and settles my entire being. Whether it’s spending a few minutes out in my garden, walking over to my local park, or heading up and deep into one of my local mountains (as pictured), I’ve learned over the years that these elements of nature are essential to my homeostasis, and peace in body, mind, and heart.
Adapt – last week when I was walking in the park I noticed this spike in the tree. As I stood there wondering why someone would do this, I literally felt the pain this tree endured with each turn of the spike. Then as I looked closer at the tree, I realized the tree adapted to this spike as it continued living its purpose in life: provide housing for various animals, birds, or insects and the new buds on it were ready to bloom to offer shade for all. I realized in this moment that my life has a purpose even though there’s a spike/pain.
Adapt – since August my life has changed drastically. I now have a walker and a wheelchair to get me through my days. As much as I love the freedom they bring it is hard to see where my life used to be. I can only hope that maybe one day I won’t have to rely on either of them but for now I do not take them for granted.
Balance – I no longer force things. What flows, flows. What crashes, crashes. I only have space and energy for the things that are meant for me. Some days I’m able to live within this mindset of balance….other days feel like a twisted tangled metal cage. I sit, I stare….at the balance I should be achieving.
Balance – I’ve learned, in the last six months, that if I don’t have 8 hours of sleep, nutritious meals, and daily exercise then I will suffer emotionally and physically. If one of those three things is not in balance then I don’t have the strength to endure the chronic pain. I also don’t have mental stamina without sleep, nutrition, and exercise. It’s a constant battle to try and get 8 hours sleep per night (pain & stiffness)but the rewards are worth the effort.
Beauty – I try to surround myself with beautiful things in my environment for the many days I’m too sick to go anywhere.
Grief – When we have chronic pain and/or illnesses we grieve many things. Because our identity is tied to our jobs we lose sense of our identity when we are no longer able to work. We often lose friends because we no longer have the energy or ability to do the things that brought us together. We lose financial stability. We lose our independence. There is no time limit on grief. But… you find things that make you feel your value again. You make new friends. You learn that you don’t need as much. You learn to ask for help. Like the wicker on this chair grief weaves through our lives. You can choose to let it define you. Or you can create a better you.
Grief – At first I was going to take a picture of my empty oxy bottle. Then I thought…do I really grieve the depression & unscheduled naps? No ….what I grieve is the ability to handle my pain better so that I could be active. I know that physio is helping ….but it’s taking so long, the pain is so intense sometimes…and all I wanna do is go play. So this basketball hoop in the rain represents that for me.
Peace – My pain is less when I’m moving, and when I’m outside in nature.. I love to take pictures of, or just admire contrasts in colour and texture… my property is my Zen.
Peace – Any time in nature, or with animals brings me peace. One place I love to sit is in our front yard under the apple trees. While it is beautiful year round, it has a special magic in spring when light is soft and the delicate blossoms are emerging. Sitting here allows my busy mind to gradually calm, my tense muscles to release a little, and a feeling of peace to permeate my being.
Peace -pēs/ noun 1. freedom from or the cessation of war. There is a war raging inside my body. Pain is the enemy. The drugs give me moments of peace…
Peace – Spring flowers on my bedside with my salt lamp. My bed is my safe place. No matter what is going on in the world around me or inside my body, I know that with blinds shut and my room dimly lit I can always let go and be at peace in my little nook.
Peace – There were days during the worst of it when even a ten minute outing had to be planned down to the last detail. Now knowing that I can spend half an hour for myself taking in the sunshine on my face brings my soul great peace and reminds me that although things aren’t perfect I’m just so thankful.
Peace – I’m not a very successful gardener, but I’m in love with plants. They are patient, never judge, never fear. I love pictures of cities or ocean wreckage where nature has taken back what was hers, sometimes taking a great deal of time. These thoughts bring me peace because it reminds me that with all destruction, there is creation, patience is key to seeing the beauty unfold.
Support – Some days I don’t recognize the person staring back at me. What I have come to learn, however slowly, is that it is still ME. I have made it this far… I was the one that wouldn’t take no for an answer in those medical appointments, I was the one laying there in those demeaning hospital gowns, I was the one curled in a ball on the couch…teeth clenched from pain, I AM the one standing here now in support of my journey wherever it may lead, on the days when I recognize me AND on the days when I can’t quite catch a glimpse….
Uncertainty – This picture represents the “ROCK PAPER SCISSORS” game…. my rock is my faith, my paper is a gratitude list, as it’s proof of the positive outcomes from my uncertainty, and scissors represents “let go and let God” for me.
Uncertainty – a hidden beauty in our valley is Nymph Falls. On a good day it is an easy 30 minute walk. On a bad day, impossible. I never know what causes flares or what I will be able to do on any given day. I feel I can’t commit to anything, and it’s so frustrating!!
Uncertainty – So much is taken from us and too many times we have to be reactive when we want to be proactive. I usually have this cup on my desk and when I am caught up in whatever storm is happening to me physically, emotionaly or mentally, seeing the word makes me stop for a few moments to take a deep breath or two. The storm doesn’t stop but I try to get some calm happening and try to reduce the level of stress.
Uncertainty – life can at times feels uncertain for many reasons. No understanding from your partner on how you are feeling because they cannot see it & so you must not have it. I have dealt with this for many years. Visual is sometimes not accurate. Like the fire, sometimes I feel like I’m burning out.
Uncertainty – I’m uncertain what my future holds…. I used to be bold and tenacious and I didn’t care, bring it on world! If I’m being honest, there is a part of me now that is always a little afraid, afraid of that next bump in the road. But they never feel that gentle anymore do they….
Beauty – Sometimes it is hard to distinguish what we once knew in those things that are now broken…
It is a journey instead to see those pieces for the strength and beauty they offer to the whole.