For those of you living with autoimmune diseases will probably be able to relate to my story. For those of you who are not, it’s okay to read on to get a glimpse of how daily life and doing normal human things can be a struggle.
The pain began in late 2017. It was an abdominal pain that wouldn’t go away and had a fluctuating intensity. It began to disrupt my focus in my classes and sports to the point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore and had to seek out some sort of help. After trying many over-the-counter products for GI issues and abdominal pain with no success, to the doctor, I went.After a few blood tests, their first suspicion was celiac disease. Another few tests and an endoscopy confirmed their guess. Glad to have received an answer, I thought that removing gluten from my diet would be a breeze and I would be back to pain-free happy-go-lucky Rachel. I had read so many stories of people getting diagnosed with celiac disease and being fine after going gluten-free. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Going gluten-free was the easy part, but figuring out why I was still in so much pain was the hard part. After going gluten-free the pain got worse. Strange, I know. Conventional doctors had nothing for me except “wait it out and you’ll eventually feel better.” Taking their advice, I waited it out and stayed strictly gluten-free yet still got worse.
I sought out the holistic side of medicine hoping it would give me additional insight that the conventional doctors missed. They were able to give me a few more answers that pointed to some of the issues I was still dealing with, like other severe food intolerances and overall my immune system attacking itself every time I ate certain foods, such as the ever-so-popular gluten-free staples: corn, almonds, and coconut. Soon I found out that dairy, eggs, and meat were included in the list of foods I couldn’t eat. On top of that, I was still in immense pain and dealing with many unpleasant symptoms such as daily, severe migraines, anxiety, depression, insomnia, severe nausea, etc.
So, exit the friends who didn’t know how to deal with what I was going through. Enter the gaslighting from all medical professionals. Exit the ability to focus on anything but the pain in my body that was robbing me of a normal life. Enter the scrutiny of the public school system. Living with an invisible disability is a two-edged sword: You’re glad nobody else can see it, but it’s damn near impossible trying to communicate how much pain you’re in when you look okay.
Enter the art. The hours spent in my room dwelling on my symptoms and the words ‘chronic pain’ ‘no answers’ and ‘you look fine to me’ felt unbearable. So, I started to draw. I started to paint. Then, I started to realize the healing power of the creative process. It allowed me to take what was within and express it externally. It wasn’t putting pain on paper, but allowing the layers of adversity experienced to flow out as raw emotions onto the canvas as shapes, swirls, and colors. The more I drew and painted, the better I felt. The pain was still there, but I was finally on a path to strengthen a facet of my life that had room for growth. A fire out of control is destructive, but when it’s in a fireplace, it provides warmth and energy. I found I could produce art because of, and in spite of, the pain while it also fueled the process.
With many rounds of tests such as CT scans, ultrasounds, and laparoscopic surgery, doctors still couldn’t find out why I was in such pain. While I am still dealing with chronic pain, I finally have the help that keeps my symptoms at bay and allows me to pursue what I know I am made to do at this time in my life. I am channeling my focus toward art and the healing aspects of my creative endeavors. I not only do intuitive painting as a form of healing, but I also create art for the community. Doing murals, live painting, and other forms of art to beautify the space around us bringing smiles to everyone’s faces. That is my focus as of right now. Creating beautiful works of art for everyone to see & enjoy while sharing my story and allowing my creative energy to speak for itself through my endeavors.
I’m so excited to see where this journey will take me as I continue to explore myself through my creative pursuits. Since it is unknown what each day will bring, I will continue to create from a place of authentic expression, no matter the hardships.
My name is Rachel Zemeske and I am a local artist in Lake County, IL. Throughout the past four years, my love for intuitive painting has grown more and more each day.
After multiple medical diagnoses, my life took me down a unique path that led me to find myself amidst the pain. Authentic creation was my light. My journey of transmution began, turning adversity into art.
The infinite opportunities that the world of art has to offer have become the catalyst for my growth. I fell in love with the healing and creative process. Creating works of art through intuitive guidance has given me insight that I will keep close to myself for the rest of my life. I found a deeper understanding of my inner self and the world around me.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity to express my true nature without judgment or restriction. My works embody the theme of pure creativity, authenticity, and imagination. Through expressive arts, I have found the language of my soul: the movement of color.