Julia was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis (JA) at the age of 13. While many of her joints remain currently unaffected by the disease, she tends to feel the most pain in her hands. Julia was always looking to find ways to cope with juvenile arthritis, but never imagined how creatively it would emerge.
Julia’s juvenile arthritis, coupled with a recent dental surgery, rendered her bedridden for a few days this past winter. And what initially started as a way to cope with boredom soon grew in to a passion and a way to cope with juvenile arthritis.
“I needed a distraction and painting seemed like the perfect option,” she said.
Just a year earlier Julia had enrolled in a painting class at her high school, casually completing assignments and learning techniques along the way. But after her wisdom-tooth surgery, she realized how meaningful art could be and discovered her talent.
“I was able to fully express the very complicated feelings I had through brush strokes and bright color,” she explains. “Since painting provided me such relief during this time, I realized it might help me whenever I felt unwell from my arthritis. Now, if I have a bad day, I immediately turn to art to pick me up.”
The recovery from her wisdom-tooth removal was brief, but her battle with JA promises to be a long and often painful journey. But Julia hopes that with the help of her new-found hobby, she will be able to handle all the challenges that come with juvenile arthritis.
“Art has been such a godsend to me, especially during rough times. It makes me very happy and I am so lucky that I have the opportunity to create whenever I please.”
You might think that because Julia tends to feel the most pain in her hands, painting would be difficult. However, she says has actually found some relief through painting. “It provides a gentle exercise for my hands that has actually helped with pain!” she explains.
Resilient in nature, Julia tries to complete most things independently, but notes that it is often difficult to complete even the simplest of tasks, like taking notes or opening up a jar, but isn’t afraid to ask for help when she needs it.
After realizing how beneficial it could be to have help, she felt inspired to start up her own platform to be a resource for other kids with JA. She created an Instagram account filled with her colorful pieces of art and shares her experience to let others know they are not alone.
“I thought it would be amazing if I could share my art with others for two reasons: First, I hope I can make people happy when they see my work. Second, I hope to inspire others to find what makes them really happy, pursue it, and not let anything get in their way!”
Through vibrant colors and relatable imagery, Julia is able to connect with other JA kids. Inspired by their personal stories of honesty and bravery, she feels compelled to keep sharing her own story and artwork.
For Julia, her message is simple:
“I would like people to understand that juvenile arthritis exists and is a life-changing illness for many. Each kid who fights arthritis is very tough and goes through a lot, much more than many imagine, so it is good to be kind and patient.”