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  • Writer's pictureTrupti Lyndon

An Elegy for a Bloom: Lupus in Illustration

Updated: Apr 21



'An Elegy for a Bloom' showcases my experience with Lupus Sle, a chronic autoimmune disease. The disease has been an ever-present factor in my life, and it demands careful consideration in all aspects of my daily routine. Lupus occurs when the immune system, which ordinarily defends the body against infections and illnesses, attacks its organs and tissues. Unfortunately, it is an incurable disease, and its unpredictable nature poses significant challenges to those who live with it. 


The goal of this project is to create a metaphorical narrative that raises awareness about Lupus. The diagnostic process can be lengthy, and many individuals suffer silently due to the nature of the disease, which often leaves them in a state of confusion and uncertainty. This project aims to provide a comprehensive account of my experience with Lupus Sle, with the intent of inspiring others to seek medical attention and better understand the condition.


Developmental process


In colder countries, people eagerly await the summer sun as it has a positive effect on their moods and health. Lack of sunlight for prolonged periods can adversely affect well-being. In the UK, this season is celebrated as a time of life. 'An Elegy for a Bloom' has been created to depict the effects of sun exposure on individuals suffering from Lupus. This condition can trigger symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, weakness, skin rashes, itching, and burning, and can even cause organ damage.


The Damned Sun (see Fig. 1) depicts a woman walking in a woodland area with plenty of tree shade and coolness on a warm sunny day. However, she is covering her head with a scarf and holding an umbrella, which suggests that she is uncomfortable being outside on a summer day and is wearing layers of protective clothing to prevent any flare-ups.



Fig. 1 The Damned Sun from An Elegy for a Bloom (2024)

Capturing Symptoms and Expressions


About half of all lupus patients experience a characteristic rash that spans the width of the face and covers both cheeks and the bridge of the nose. It may occur spontaneously or after exposure to the sun. The butterfly rash appears red, elevated, and sometimes scaly. The butterfly rash may appear on its own, but some people observe that its appearance means that a disease flare is beginning. In this illustration (See Fig. 2) the woman's unamused expression suggests she anticipates an incoming flare-up with the arrival of a butterfly.


Fig. 2 Arrival from An Elegy for a Bloom (2024)

The Spoon Theory


Spoon Theory is a friendly concept that uses spoons to represent energy throughout the day. For someone with chronic fatigue, each activity costs a certain number of spoons, and once they're used up, their energy is depleted. To replenish their spoons, rest and sleep are necessary. Pushing past the number of spoons can cause a crash that takes days to recover from (See Fig. 3) It's a helpful way to understand chronic fatigue and support those who live with it.


Fig. 3 A Rose is a Rose is a Rose from An Elegy for a Bloom (2024)

During the period of illness, I experienced episodes of confusion, delirium, and psychosis in which my consciousness was clouded. During these episodes, I felt agitated and fearful and experienced visual or auditory hallucinations, as well as paranoid thoughts such as feelings of persecution. These episodes can last for several hours or days before subsiding. (See Fig. 3)


Fig. 4 Delirium from An Elegy for a Bloom (2024)

Stress is a significant trigger for lupus, and it often poses a great challenge for me to work during a flare-up. Once, I experienced a flare-up while painting this illustration (See Fig. 5) and my original composition looked entirely different.  Despite my ambition to complete the illustration, lupus overpowered my mind and body. That day was a struggle, and I felt helpless, angry, and in pain, completely isolated. Fortunately, the flare-up eventually subsided, and I was able to finish 'The Labyrinth'.


'An Elegy for a Bloom'  represents Lupus as a blatant violation of the most fundamental laws of the immune system. Nevertheless, the disturbances that dangerously turn self into non-self remain unclear and hazardous.


Fig. 5 The Labyrinth from An Elegy for a Bloom (2024)

This blog post delves into the exploration of illustration as a means to comprehend Lupus Sle, emphasizing its ability to capture symptoms, emotions, and experiences while fostering empathy, empowerment, and advocacy.


Arts Council England funded this Exploration and experimentation with Illustration techniques. 





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4 Comments


Guest
Apr 20

This really captures the essence of what someone with Lupus will go through. Your art style is amazingly complex and simple at the same time.

I also like your choice of words for the titles, very poetic. 😊

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Guest
Apr 20

I love how each illustration reflects a different state of health. The first image with the sun is really poignant when you read the story behind it.


This is a great project and I can't wait to see more. I think it will resonate with others who have Lupus.

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Yiyi Huang
Yiyi Huang
Apr 20

It is a very interesting project and the illustration is fascinating! I particularly like the idea of the butterflies. Can’t wait to see more of your other work.

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Trupti Lyndon
Trupti Lyndon
Apr 20
Replying to

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it 😃

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