I’m lying down on a life-size piece of brown paper, having my body be outlined like I’m in kindergarten. At 33-years-old, I’m surrounded by paint, Mr. Sketch scented markers, and even crayons. Do I feel foolish or childish? Yeah.
This is what every Thursday looked like for me as I took my first ever Body Mapping For Diabetes workshop. It was a 6-week commitment that took me on a wild ride through my life…back before my diagnosis and into the depths of my belief systems about what it meant to live with a chronic illness.
“Participants will be using a life-sized sketch of themselves to map out their own narrative of diabetes. These stories will provide the basis for conversations around some of the challenges of living with diabetes. No background in drawing or art is required.
The body mapping technique was first developed by artist Jane Solomon, in her work with women living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa.”
Don’t get it twisted: the inner work was hard. It wasn’t as if I drew myself on a large paper and finally had some type of cookie-cutter Hollywood ending (me and diabetes holding hands into the sunset).
There were days that what I discovered was painful. And confusing.
When you take action to deal with your relationship with any illness, it’s important to realize that you will be opening yourself up to vulnerability and for me, it included a lot of shame. I still struggle today with telling people I have diabetes. Deep deep down, I feel that I am flawed, that I’m “damaged goods”, and that their rejection of me means I’m just not worthy to be here.
What this program reaffirmed and brought to light was that I am much more than someone who lives with diabetes. It is so easy to create a single-story narrative of your life, when in fact, there are so many facets that make you, you. And knowing that is essential to healing.
Getting back to basics is an incredibly powerful tool. During this art therapy, I drew out circles of my support system, illustrated major life events since birth and symbolized the effects of diabetes both mentally and physically. What I just described is only the tip of the iceberg.
I wish this was available sooner. I’m eternally grateful that I got the chance to see this program from start to end, and now, like always, I move forward armed with more knowledge, another form of support and most of all, hope for a brighter future.
To learn more about Body Mapping for Diabetes, click here.