In 2018 before becoming a freelance illustrator my Chronic Migraine became dramatically worse and I had no choice but to leave my job as a Teaching Assistant in a school for disabled children:
For a lot of people with chronic illness the lack of flexible working options can end up excluding them from most workplaces. In my case I couldn’t get my employer to agree to part-time hours so I had to leave in order to manage my health.
When you become disabled or existing conditions worsen it has a massive impact on your lifestyle, your work options and how you socialise with others. You have to adjust to your ‘new normal’ and confront feelings of loss and fear, of being ‘left behind’ and isolated from the rest of the world, and of letting people down because your capacity for activity is unreliable.
I now support myself through my illustration work and shop and I intend for these pins to empower people to focus on their health and personal strength over financial and ‘productivity’ goals.
The designs are inspired by the spoonie community online (a spoonie is a chronically ill person whose energy levels and activities are limited by their condition/s). The community helped me to adjust to my own new reality, accept my situation and adapt.
The response to my illustrations about Migraine and chronic illness online helped me feel accepted for who I am and be kinder to myself so I became determined to use my art to give back to the community; to provide them with that same sense of acceptance and personal agency.
I hope my colourful and striking pin designs will serve as reminders of what people have already overcome and that there is a whole community out there who understand and support them.
My illustrations are my way of fighting back against a socio-political system that tells us our limited capacity to work is not ‘enough’; that our worth is determined by our productivity and our personal conditions open to doubt and scrutiny. These measures devalue human life and lead to the dismissal of disabled lives by politicians and the general public, as during the ongoing Covid pandemic.
My pin designs will be added to my existing Chronic Warrior collection and feature phrases such as ‘Endometriosis Warrior’, ‘Diabetic Warrior’, and ‘I Hate My Guts’ (my favourite from the new collection, which features intestines morphing into a snake and the titular phrase written on the large intestine).
I Hate My Guts’ is designed for everyone living with conditions such as IBS, IBD, Crohn’s, or who uses a stoma, in honour of our ongoing struggle with our own organs! I’ve long been fighting against my own digestive system and a sense of humour about these things is an essential survival tactic!
My Kickstarter campaign is running until the 7th of March and you can back for multiple pin, print and sticker designs here: www.kickstarter.com/projects/abistevens/chronic-warrior-enamel-pins-3
You can also find my existing Chronic Warrior designs in her shop at www.abistevens.etsy.com.
#spoonieSisterhood #chronicmigraine #chronicartist #IBS #chronicwarrior #Endometriosis #PCOS #Diabetes #Migraine #Fibromyalgia #Fatigue #CFS #ME #autoimmune #Spoonie #chronicArt #chronicartist