‘Her health every day is a tightrope’: Teen battles pain with art

Posted June 30, 2017

Published in LocalXpress.ca on 6/26/17

Halifax artist Danielle Robitaille, 18, battles three medical conditions and fights chronic pain with art in her solo fundraising exhibit, Invisible: Portrayals of Chronic Pain and Invisible Illness, now on view at Pain Management Services, in the Dickson Building of the Victoria General site, Halifax.

Danielle Robitaille fights pain with art.

In her solo exhibit Invisible, at Pain Management Services in the Dickson Building of the Victoria General site in Halifax, she depicts the emotional and physical pain of illness in powerful, haunting images of tortured pencil-drawn bodies, heroic armoured figures and intense emotional states.

In spite of daily pain, she has a sense of humour in her art and in her personality as she navigates life with her mother, Tanya Brown.

“Art is one of the most important things in my life,” says Robitaille, sitting in the Pain Management Services waiting room with her mother. “It’s a cathartic thing for me to do. It distracts me and allows me to portray anything on canvas, on paper, in any media, like pain and those taboo medical things I go through.”

“People don’t generally like to talk about chronic illness and pain,” adds her mother. “Danielle is in the ambulance a lot. People don’t like the never-ending battle which she has for the rest of her life. It’s not going to get better.”

Robitaille’s show is called Invisible: Portrayals of Chronic Pain and Invisible Illness, because judging from her outside appearance, she looks like an ordinary, healthy 18-year-old.

“People assume I am fine — even people who are my good friends,” says Robitaille, an applied media and communications art student at Nova Scotia Community College. “The art is a good way to show people what it’s like on the inside of myself.

“A lot of the pain patients identify with the pictures and say, ‘That’s how I feel every day.’ ”

Robitaille was born with the hypermobile type of a hereditary disorder of connective tissue called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). She and her mother are co-founders of a support group, the Atlantic Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Society, which has over 60 members.

“I’ve had this since birth, and it seems to be worsening since puberty,” says Robitaille, who wears heavy leg braces to keep her mobile.

Click here to read the complete original article

Categorized in: