Friday, October 14, 2022

Scattered Pain and Nightflare by Lea Ervin

Artist's Statement:  My name is Lea Ervin and I am a 40 year old woman with ADHD, dyslexia, OCD, and stage 4 endometriosis.  I have had learning and physical challenges my entire life, and a year ago, I started painting to explore the body and what it means to live with chronic pain and mental illness.  The three paintings are part of my “Scattered Pain” series in which I depict what is happening inside my body on the outside to give a visual representation of the symbiosis of chronic pain, ADHD, and OCD.  The pelvic regions of each figure have a touch of red to depict the pain and inflammation one experiences with endometriosis along with the scattered colors that represent a neurodivergent brain. It is difficult to express in words the experience of living in this body, so it was necessary to create a visual representation of life with multiple disabilities. These illustrations depict the pain, messiness, and beauty that come with being different and that there is beauty everywhere.  

There are three paintings of a nude woman in a line drawing (from chin to thighs) where she has different colors in her body. The first is called "A Good Day" where the curves of the body are deep blue and there are splotches of light blue and yellow around the form. There is a dark red line slashed across the body just above the vagina like an angry scar. The second piece is "Brain on Fire" which has black lines for the body, and red/orange/yellow all the way across the image... even outside of the body. The color gets heavier towards the right of the image. The last is "Agony" in which the body's lines are red. Red and pink permeate the body. Yellow dapples around the shoulders. A blue streak is seen off to the right, as though it is peace not found inside.



My endometriosis pain swirls, saturates, and swims through my pelvis. It coaxes my heart to beat faster pushing the sweat from my pores. My bowels somersault shifting the bile in my stomach into my throat. The pain crushes my bones.

Feeling well is bait, you see.

An unattainable truth that the pain might stop.

But like a crimson demonic chorus, the endometriosis lesions in my belly snarl.

“Remember girl, you will die. But not tonight girl, oh no no no. You’ll just wish you were dead.”

I am a woman undeserving of peace because tonight, by body says otherwise.

The space has long been empty—nearly a decade since endometriosis took my uterus. However, the spawns thrive, bleed, rip, scar and propagate nights of agony, sleeplessness, and hopelessness.

I writhe in the blanket and wring my hands in the sheets.

Fetal position

Straight like an arrow.

On my back.

Hailing Mary with a whisper as to not wake my sleeping husband, resting peacefully next to me.

Oh, to have that sense of safety and comfort.

But I can only count the clock ticks.

Re-check the instructions on the orange pill bottle lying sideways on my nightstand with the cap partially undone.

Tally the hours on my fingers to determine the soonest I can safely take another, and hope there will be rest.


 Lea Ervin is a writer and artist in Alabama. She is a writing instructor at the University of Alabama Birmingham and holds a Masters of Arts in Professional and Technical Writing from the University of Arkansas Little Rock. She has taught on both the community college and university level. As a freelance writer, her work centers around endometriosis advocacy and has been featured in The Blossom (Endometriosis Foundation of America),, Reckon South, The Mighty, and Thought Catalog.  Lea also paints to depict the struggle of mental illness and chronic pain and the parts of both that are hard to put into words. When she is not writing, teaching, or painting, she is collecting vinyl records, bingeing her favorite series, reading, cooking, and dancing around her house to indie rock or jazz. She resides in Oneonta, Alabama, with her husband Brad White and their Beagle-mix, Starla Belle.

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