Whole Life Magazine

June/July 2015

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Page 23 of 43

W hen Charlotta Nor- gaard was diagnosed 12 years ago with Lupus, an autoim- mune disease, she would lie in bed, throw the sheet over her face and cry. Getting dressed was a battle. Sleep was nearly impossible. "If I turned in my sleep I would wake up in screaming pain just from having moved," she said. Norgaard, 42, CEO of Patient Protocol, a mobile health-monitoring tool, tried a number of reme- dies, obsessively altering her diet, environment and medication in search of something—anything—to alleviate her chronic pain. Help ! nally arrived from a totally unexpected source—art. Whether it's painting, singing or writing, a growing number of people su" ering from chronic pain are us- ing the creative arts as a form of therapy. An estimat- ed 100 million adults su" er from chronic pain in the United States, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Pain. Medical authorities say di" erent forms of creative expression can o" er ful! llment and relief to many who might feel enslaved by their pain. When Norgaard is in a bad state of chronic pain, she puts on some classical or heavy metal music and cranks up the volume. She dips a brush into her acryl- ics and begins to throw paint on canvas. "It's like I zone out from real life. Pain doesn't exist there—all you hear is music, all you see is painting," she said. "I don't have to deal with it in my mind and my heart, and I don't feel the pain at that time." When she puts down her brush an hour or so later and steps back from her abstract-style creation—an externalization of her su" ering—it feels as if she's coming o" a pleasant high, she said. As the reality of the pain slowly returns to her, the intensity seems di- minished. # ere is no pill that ! xes chronic pain, said Dr. Paul Zeltzer, co-founder of Whole Child LA, a private practice in Los Angeles for treating a$ icted children and young adults; opioids are not very e" ective. Al- though they might dull the senses, they don't attack the cause of the pain, so it's important for those suf- fering from chronic pain to ! nd additional modalities of pain management that work for them, whether it is exercise, hypnotherapy or art therapy, he said. Someone with chronic pain who engages in some form of "creative expression," such as painting, steers impulses away from the "bother center" of the brain, explained Zeltzer. While she or he might experience pain in the background, it becomes easier to con- Getting Creative When Life's a Pain Desperate for solutions, sufferers turn to the arts By Levi Sharpe 24 wholelifetimes.com

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