Where I’ve Been

“If you’re any kind of artist, you make a miraculous journey, and you come back and make some statements in shapes and colors of where you were.”

-Romare Bearden

This quote was the last thing I posted on my previous blog  in November 2015. I hope that’s what I’ve been doing the past few years.

The only way I can wrap my head around years of  serious illness and isolation is to somehow hope it was worth something.

Years passed in a blur. It’s one of those awful paradoxes where each minute of the day spent awake seems to last forever (in pain or a state of insomnia) but then suddenly I realized it was a new month. A new year. And I was still stuck in that chronic-illness-suspended-time-place. Stagnant.

I try to not think of all this wasted time. It’s not fair to call it “wasted” at all. It was hardly a choice. You try to be content in small moments, try to appreciate & acknowledge small achievements, but at the end of the day it is not the life you imagined or wanted for yourself. It is not a life you would wish on anyone at all.

Unfortunately I have no miraculous recovery story to share. I have multiple chronic illnesses (chronic means long term, means I will likely cope with them in some way the rest of my life). I was misdiagnosed, undiagnosed and mistreated for years and my immune and nervous system spiraled out of control until I reached a point where I could barely function on a daily basis.

If you’re at all curious, I have dysautonomia, lyme disease (as well as bartonella and babesia co-infections), and I was also exposed to toxic mold. At the advice of my doctor, I left my home (the source of the toxic black mold) with only the clothes on my back. I lost all of my belongings, all of my artwork, e v e r y t h i n g.  I was essentially bedridden for 2-3 years, with extremely diminished brainpower/mental ability on top of physical symptoms. I was not myself. I could not be creative, I could not create art, I was stuck, unmoving, lifeless.

I am healing, I am not healed. I can now stand for more than a few minutes without fainting. I can smell commonly-used chemicals like perfume, detergent, or smoke and am no longer sent into anaphylactic shock like what used to happen every time I left my house. I have a chest port and still have to administer hours of IV medications daily, and there are other things I need to do on a minute-to-minute basis to stay in this improved state. My mental ability has improved. I can think again.  I can read again. I can be creative again!

So like I said before, I have no miraculous recovery story to share where I tell you I am completely healthy and returned to how I was “before”. But if you saw me a few years ago, you would still agree that this is still a major improvement. And I am still hoping to reclaim even more of my life in the years to come, slowly but surely…

I am sharing all of this as a conscious decision to be more open and candid with anyone who likes my artwork or has found my website because of it’s illness-related keywords/tags. I want to share more parts of myself with you than just the pretty finished products I create! I could only have created them by going through this journey. I have a point of view that other artists don’t, and I hope it shows.

So I suppose Romare Beardon’s quote is fitting. I have made a “miraculous” (or at least an out-of-the-ordinary) journey and I have come back to make some statements in shapes and colors of where I have been! Thank you for stumbling across this and for following along with me…



PS- if you’re looking for more information about dysautonomia, lyme, mold, or chronic/invisible illness I have accumulated a ton of information and useful links/websites. I’d be happy to share them with you- leave a comment below or contact me here. [I want my blog to be more focused on art and how illness has influenced it and my creative process and less about my specific symptoms, health tips or a bunch of overwhelming information that can be found elsewhere. But I’d be happy to share advice/info privately if you need it!]


2 thoughts on “Where I’ve Been

  1. Hello Jenna!
    Sooo inspired and moved by your reality. You must be such a tenacious and positive and strong minded person. Good for you. Absolutely love love your work, I happened to stumble upon it today , by chance while browsing….:) Thru the Covid lockdown I’ve started something and I don’t know where it’s going to go but it feels right for me in this moment.
    If u can spare the time do go over on my Instagram Handle @designhappinis .
    I wAs glad to see ur art…it soooo resonated with what’s happening in my mind right now:)
    I think the techniques are similar….if u do happen to see my work let me know what you think of it……I’ve barely showed it to anyone:)
    Thank you……Nisreen from Mumbai, India


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