Lizzie Windelinckx is an accomplished illustrator from the U.K. and creator of Gidypup Designs. She is also a member of AOI (the Association of Illustrators). She attended Manchester Metropolitan University and received a BA Hons Textiles. In this article Lizzie shares her story about dealing with her arduous struggles while enduring In Vitro Fertilization and how starting to draw served as a place of calm and comfort. To help other patients deal with this experience she produced an illustrated guide to IVF/ICSI. Lizzie is also one of 5 directors of Clem’s Garden CIC, a social enterprise for people 50 and older, without children and grandchildren, that grows and sells organic UK flowers to strengthen their community. Her article is one of the most inspirational stories you’ll find in The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS “Artists’ Stories” series. ~ Renée Phillips
Lizzie Windelinckx’s Story
Art has always been, and hopefully always will be, a comfort to me and a source of confidence. The concentration needed when drawing, gives me a total release from all other thoughts whirling around at the time. Whatever else is going on, I feel a sense of calm when drawing.
My experience with IVF/ICSI (In Vitro Fertilization) was like stepping onto a roller-coaster, with no obvious safety belt. After a number of fails, I felt extremely isolated, and lost confidence in everything.
This was when I started drawing and jotting down some thoughts about what was happening through each section of the cycle. It helped me process my thoughts and try to reclaim some control. It was my illustration work, when I embarked on our IVF/ICSI journey, that really helped me.
I was finding it difficult to talk to others, and aside from getting through the medical procedures the emotional side was all-consuming. The information available at the hospital and online was very ‘medically’ written and the emotional support was difficult to find. The counseling offered by the hospital was on-site in a room you may have previously been told of a fail, so this did not sit right with me. Online forums were a gamble of maybe useful or upsetting information. If I felt this, maybe others would too?
So it was with that in mind that I produced an illustrated guide to IVF/ICSI for a new patient. My guide is on the NHS website of the hospital where we received treatment, and although we were not one of the lucky ‘Golden Ticket’ winners, we were cared for.
My illustrations try to capture moments in the treatment and simply, practically, explain them with sensitivity. The absurdity of some of the situations you find yourself in whilst receiving treatment need to be recognized, and claimed back with a bit of dark humor.
For instance, laying there ‘legs airing’ having an internal scan, with your nurse talking about her chocolate Labrador is not a ‘normal’ occurrence of say a ‘Monday in December’ but that is where you find yourself. Trying to find an anchor of ‘normal’ to help with the nerves and get back on track for the rest of the day can be tough.
Although I studied textiles many years ago, over the years illustration became my focus. Now, aiming for a ‘hand drawn’ look, I work with a pen and tablet in photoshop and also use my hands to scan in painted and drawn textures. Inspired by kids and pets, I try to convey a personality, or capture a moment, hopefully with humor.
The IVF/ICSI appointments do become routine, but before the first one, I didn’t know if they would hurt or how it would feel. I wanted my illustrations to reassure, capture the feelings of that first time in the chair with your ‘bits out’, and hopefully reduce the anxieties for others.
Now the ongoing journey of building a life, without the family you imagined, and finding a place to ‘fit in’ continues. The hurt of watching all your friends and families’ kids reach their milestones in life doesn’t ever go away but I am happy for them. Continuing to draw, will help give me that moment of calm and confidence that moves the day on and makes you look forward to the next. Love is the answer but so is Art for me.
Visit Lizzie Windelinckx’s website at www.giddypup.co.uk