Creativity In Seasons Of Pain - Olivia's Story
I want to introduce you to my new friend Olivia. She is also a young adult living with more than one chronic illness and we recently connected on social media as she also has CMT. She is also passionate about writing and especially poetry.
Thank you Olivia for sharing your story and how God is continuing to work in your life through creativity.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hey everyone! My name is Olivia Dennis. I’m 20 years old and am from Georgia. I live with several mental and chronic illnesses, including chronic migraine, fibromyalgia, POTS, CMT, GP, IBS, OCD, and others. I also am autistic. I have two rescue dogs named Scruffy and Poncho, whom I love so much. I enjoy listening to music, watching a good mystery movie, dog sitting, and doing creative artsy things.
What is one of your creative passions?
I have several creative passions. My strongest one is probably writing. I like to write poetry and encouraging messages about God. I shared my blog and Instagram if you want to read some. I love to journal as well about my thoughts, emotions, and prayer. I have also been doing photography, painting, and learning how to crochet. And when I was a little kid, music was my passion, and I grew up playing the piano.
Creativity is one of my values. It opens up a whole different world to me. A space where I am free to make something beautiful. Living with chronic illness has made that hard though. Doing my passions has been made to feel impossible. That space that was once there is now instead filled with a big load of pain and symptoms.
Do you find creativity as a way to cope with your physical pain?
Chronic illness brings debilitating pain and fatigue that affects us from functioning in our everyday lives. Simple tasks like taking a shower, walking, getting out of bed, and doing chores are already so difficult. So when it comes to our passions, they often get pushed behind because we don’t have the energy to engage in them. We are limited in what we can do.
But creativity has brought so many good things to my life too. I’ve learned and grown a lot from my experiences. Creativity is a big coping skill for me when I’m in physical pain. It distracts me and gets my mind off of how sick I’m feeling. It gives me a break from reality, puts me at ease, and brings me joy. Embracing my creativity has not just brought joy into my life but has also let me express my feelings and frustrations through my writing. It adds purpose and meaning to my life. Doing my passions gives me something to look forward to. It gets me out of bed when I feel like I can’t.
What are some challenges you have encountered? And how did you get through them?
How did I deal with the challenges? Honestly, I gave up a lot because of them. I tried to fix it on my own, but it didn’t end up working. It wasn’t until I let God have complete control that things started turning around. God wants us to do the things we love and to enjoy ourselves. Our God is a creative God, and He wants us to embrace that too. I’m so grateful for the gift of creativity that we’ve been given. And I love that we can use our gifts for the glory of God. Ask God for strength.
A way that has made the burden of chronic illness more bearable for my passions are breaks. It is important to step away from projects after you’ve done them for a while. When you are feeling worse or in more pain due to your passions, it is best for you to stop. You can always come back to it later, but let yourself rest. Don't push yourself because that often leads to burnout, and we all know how awful that feels. Find ways to adapt to make your hobbies easier and more accessible.
The crazy thing is that I started writing poetry at age 9, and that’s when my chronic illness began too. It was almost like chronic illness was the thing that sparked my creativity. I believe I am better at my creative passions today than I was before becoming chronically ill.
How would you encourage someone to continue their creative passions even when pain is a daily struggle?
Even though pain is a daily struggle for us with chronic illnesses, I want to encourage you to keep chasing after your creative passions. You’re still able to do great work, and you can still find enjoyment in life despite whatever restrictions chronic illness places on your path.
“He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.” - Exodus 35:35
You can find Olivia and her writing on
Instagram: @yourpainhasapurpose and