Hand painting a melting clock

How Psoriatic Arthritis Can Stifle Creativity

Expressing myself through words and art has always been my safe place. Having had a learning disability my entire academic career, I leaned into my creativity to feel validated.

I remember getting that encouragement in 6th grade when I received the art award and continued getting recognition for it throughout the years. Creativity became such a big part of my identity.

After leaving my eleven-year career in early childhood education due to my physical limitations with PsA, I once again turned to art. I was able to make a living selling my paintings. But as I’ve gotten older and my psoriatic arthritis has progressed, it is no longer something I enjoy doing.

The struggles of being creative with psoriatic arthritis

Holding the paintbrush does not feel natural or comfortable at this point. Nor does drawing, cutting, or sitting long enough to make progress. There are no words to express how frustrating it has been not to be able to use my hands like I was once able to.

On top of the physical limitation PsA places on my ability to push through, so does brain fog. Even when I attempt to start a painting, I can barely focus on the concept or method long enough to begin.

Additionally, fatigue is a huge hurdle to overcome when beginning the process. Some days, there is only enough energy to go around. Finding the motivation to even shower is labor intensive, so everything else has to take a back seat.

It is always upsetting not being able to accomplish something we would like to do. But when it comes to our passions like art, music, sports, knitting, and more, it can be a very hard pill to swallow. Creative pursuits can be very beneficial to our mental health, and losing that causes grief.

Adopting new forms of creative expression

I believe it is positively essential for someone with this passion to be able to express it in some way. I remember being very upset for years about having to turn my back on painting. If I had the opportunity to do it over again, I would have searched for something else rather than completely snuff out my need for creativity.

It’s important that we remember to be gentle with ourselves throughout our journey. Creative expression is a fundamental human need, so it’s understandable that this feels challenging. Have compassion for yourself on this journey when it gets difficult. Your feelings are more than valid.

Now that I’ve accepted that this is my new normal, I’ve taken to candle-making occasionally and writing often. Being a social media manager has also been a great way of expressing myself creatively through online design.

Exploring solutions to avoid fatigue

Taking breaks between activities to prevent fatigue is beneficial. Of course, it isn’t going to feel the same, but there are many user-friendly alternatives out there. Some examples include digital art, singing, writing, and photography.

I encourage all of us who are grieving a skill we can no longer fully participate in to explore something more gentle and perhaps talk to others in our community who might have great suggestions!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.