One of the things that most motivated me to start blogging was that I wanted to bring art therapy to the diabetes community, to let people know about its existence, show how it’s used, and suggest it as a treatment option to those seeking extra support beyond traditional diabetes care. Art therapy can be a powerfully effective means of addressing psychiatric diagnoses like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, but it can be equally effective at helping people with less severe problems that are distressing and adversely affect quality of life – coming to terms with diagnosis, dealing with interpersonal conflict over diabetes management, struggling with motivational issues, or even dealing with diabetes on top of stress related to major life changes like starting or graduating school, getting married, having a baby, relocating. If you know me or keep up with the blog, so far I haven’t said anything you don’t already know, but stick with me here for a bit.
As far as therapy goes, I think most people could benefit from it in one way or another because we can all better ourselves, and therapy is a means to that end. That being said, I know the majority of people with diabetes don’t have so much stress, diabetes-related or not, that they necessarily need therapy, so besides writing about art therapy, I’m driven to get people engaged in creative activities. I feel like it can never be said enough times that every last one of us is an artist. We’re all capable of picking up a pencil, a paintbrush, a ball of clay and creating something that is reflective of what’s inside us, which is, by its very nature, beautiful. No one can say or do anything to convince me otherwise, and I can’t emphasize enough that it is simply part of my fundamental understanding about people. To be is to be creative.
I get that not everyone enjoys art-making, although I would suggest that at least some people who feel that way, might think differently about it if they altered their expectations. As an analogy, diabetes dragged me, my hopes, my expectations, my soul into an abysmal void when I was pissed that the cure I had been promised hadn’t materialized, and I was convinced I’d be dead by the time I was 30. Once I started to see diabetes as a part of my life, something that had made me who I am, and something that could enhance my life, not only did it stop dragging me down, it has lifted me up. I still have the same disease, but after re-framing it, it’s taken on new meaning, and I experience it differently. So I think whether or not some people enjoy art-making has a lot to do with what they expect from themselves, from the process of creating it, and from the end result.
Not everyone wants to go soul-searching for their inner artist though, so I fully endorse engaging in creative activities of all kinds. If it’s not making art, maybe it’s making music, writing, woodworking, cooking, gardening, knitting, designing and administering websites… the list is long. Being creative comes in all sizes, shapes and forms, and since it’s an inherent part of human nature, we should all find the outlet that suits us.
Basically, that’s what I hope people will take from reading my blog, even if I don’t specifically write on those topics regularly. The blog is my primary vehicle for espousing those ideas, and that’s one thing that makes it personally valuable for me. While this is my home base, so to speak, when the opportunity to share my thoughts on diabetes and creativity arises, I’m all over it. So when Manny from Diabetes Hands Foundation, tudiabetes, and estudiabetes asked me to write the introduction for their poetry book project, I was all about participating. For anyone who has missed it, No-Sugar Added Poetry is a compilation of poems written by members of tudiabetes, people touched by diabetes, patients, caregivers, and even a healthcare provider. In addition to the Introduction that I wrote, Dr. Bill Polonsky from the Behavioral Diabetes Institute and author of Diabetes Burn-out wrote the Foreword.
I honestly don’t feel that my words can fully express what a wonderful book this is. The poems are heartfelt, genuine, and revealing. The book is well constructed and the layout and design are beautiful. Much like sampling a delicious food or traveling to an exotic destination, describing it only relays so much. You have to be there, you have to be with it in order to fully experience it, and having had a hand in its creation, along with so many other fabulous DOC folks, I want as many people to have it, read it, and enjoy it as possible.
I happen to have a couple of copies of the book that I want to give away, but this will be no ordinary raffle. In the spirit of all I’ve said today, I am asking something of anyone who is interested in participating. This is a bit of an experiment, and admittedly, I’m a little concerned that having to “work for it” might result in few entries, but I’m hoping that maybe I’ve said something in this post to inspire you, and if so, my fingers are crossed that you’ll run with it.
So, to be entered into a drawing for a copy of the book, you must submit a drawing… or a painting, sculpture or collage. Then, provided you give me consent, I will share photos of the submitted artwork in a post, and I will send a copy of the poetry book to each of two people whose names I will randomly draw from the people who submit entries. The artwork should reflect anything about diabetes that you’d like to express. The art should rely on imagery, although if words are incorporated to complement the overall piece, that’s allowed. Art can be recognizable imagery or it can be abstract. I’m asking that participants create a new piece of art for this giveaway, as opposed to submitting a photo of a previously created piece, since the point is to inspire people to either try making art, or make more art if they already like to do so. Participants can be any age, and have any type of diabetes, including type 3, so you, your kids, your spouse can all participate, no matter which one of you has diabetes. I don’t need the original art, as I’d much rather you keep it, enjoy it, and share it your friends, family, even your health care team (I would very much dig that, and would love to hear about their response). Please just send me a photo of the art. Deadline for submission is August 15th.
Yes, I know it would be way easier to just buy a book, and if this is too much effort, I really hope you’ll buy a copy since all proceeds benefit Diabetes Hands Foundation. This is meant to be a fun raffle, and even if you don’t win a copy, I hope you’ll feel like you benefited from creating something that you might not have done otherwise. I’d also like it to quite literally illustrate that everyone can make art, and that art, just like poetry, is a powerful way of relaying to others what life with diabetes means. To paraphrase a line from the No-Sugar Added Poetry Introduction, “From imagery emerges a shared experience and mutual understanding.”