As we know, infertility is an ‘invisible’ condition, and it’s really hard to to explain what we’re are going through. As a writer (and someone with a massive gob!) I’m rarely short of a few words to say, but it can often feel impossible to articulate emotions that I’m not sure can even be put into words. Finding an outlet for our emotions when going through infertility is so, so important - to get stuff out of your head in some way, shape or form.
Maybe it's talking to a counsellor.
Maybe it's going to a support group.
Maybe it's posting on social media or in an online community.
Maybe it's writing in a journal.
Maybe it's a mix of all the above.
Or maybe it's drawing.
Drawing as therapy
A picture is worth a thousand words, and visual expression can communicate thoughts, feelings and ideas in a way like no other.
Art therapy is well understood as a therapeutic tool for addressing painful feelings and difficult experiences without having to talking about them
It can help to get a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions out of your head, and give you a voice without having to find the words
Which is why I wanted to share a fantastic initiative called Drawing Out
Infertility is an ‘invisible’ condition, and so affected people can struggle to explain what they are going through.www.drawingout.org encourages people to reflect on their experiences of such invisible conditions through a series of simple drawing exercises, and to share their drawings through online galleries.
People with ‘invisible’ conditions (e.g., infertility, endometriosis, Cystic Fibrosis, ME, depression) may find it especially difficult to explain their experiences to others. A new website, www.drawingout.org, uses simple metaphor-based drawing exercises to help people express and share their thoughts and feelings about their condition. The online galleries showcase the artwork produced by individuals, as well as providing links to information and support through our partner charities.
The website is the result of collaboration between two academics at Cardiff University: Dr Sofia Gameiro is a psychologist who focuses on understanding and improving the healthcare experiences of infertile patients. Dr Lisa El Refaie’s work has shown that visual metaphor can express people’s illness experiences more creatively and often more accurately than just verbal descriptions. They originally developed DrawingOut as a group workshop tool to help people with invisible diseases overcome language and cultural barriers, and to facilitate the expression of sometimes very emotional, taboo views through drawing.
Drawing your own experience of infertility
You can see some of the incredible drawings created at two DrawingOut workshops above, but you don't have to attend a workshop to have a go yourself - there's a step-by-step guide designed to give you the tools to express your experiences in new, creative ways.
It will help you to communicate those aspects of your disease that are invisible to others by drawing about them - and to rediscover the joy of drawing we experienced as children.
Everyone can draw - the only thing you need is some paper, coloured pens or pencils and your imagination!
Share your drawings
If you'd like to share your drawings to help others (and encourage them to have a go themselves) please do consider submitting them here so they can be displayed (anonymously) in the online gallery on the DrawingOut website.
And if you'd like to share your drawings with the infertility community but don’t want to do so publicly, you can email them to me and I’ll happily share them (anonymously) on your behalf.