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The book: Art & Chronic Pain – A Self Portrait

SelfPortraitBookDustJacketYes, I’ve found another medium to express my pain and you can own your own copy of it!

I didn’t see the point of creating a long description of my living with pain, sharing my tips, turning journal entries into a pain story. Afterall, first and foremost, before the person in pain, I am an artist… so my book had to contain many pictures and few words, just 32 pages in fact, but I believe it’s a complete story. It doesn’t hold the solution for PN but it’ll allow you to explain it to someone else, leave it on the coffee table, and it will be light enough to carry around.

Art Chronic Pain Soula Mantalvanos-01

Above all I created it to express my experience so far and so that it is a bit of a companion to another PN family member. The idea was for the reader to feel empathy in a world where no one seems to understand, and to ease the pain as you look through it.

Art Chronic Pain Soula Mantalvanos-01

My marionette, Ms Soula, has been a great aid in helping me communicate my frustration with this invisible pain. Most of you would have read that a portrait I painted of her recently became a semi finalist piece for The National Doug Moran Portrait Painting prize. I’m happy that Ms Soula, is communicating my message. In the midst of being creative with Ms Soula (refer to full post) I have found more ways to express my pain, they have formed this book.

I use drawings, sentences and phrases from my website, guided by your comments and emails to me, and used Ms Soula’s strings to document my pain journey’s ups, downs… and knots. I wanted this to be very special and with Theo’s help, it is. There is a dust jacket with real strings attached, one by one (thanks Theo).

There will only be 500 copies produced. I will be numbering the books by hand. I’ve inserted some preview images in this post but don’t want to give too much away.

I won’t be releasing the book in an online format, the subject is too personal so I feel the screen does not suffice. Each page must be handled and touched while it’s being read.

The price of my book is $31 (inc. postage*) and it’s also available at Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop. Order online by selecting an option below and hitting the ‘buy now’ button (credit card orders can be processed through PayPal even for those who don’t have an account).

Cost: $31 (inc postage)

Outside dust jacket.
Pictured below: two double page spread examples.
Size closed: 195mm (W) x 255mm (H)
Pages: 32 plus dust jacket with attached strings
*Postage costs included are for a waterproof and protective package.

Book & postage total

Art & Chronic Pain, A Self Portrait Book by Soula MantalvanosArt & Chronic Pain, A Self Portrait Book by Soula Mantalvanos






By |2017-12-11T09:42:17+11:00October 30th, 2013|Print, Read|4 Comments


  1. […] Book […]

  2. Jen N. June 24, 2018 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    I feel so honored to have my poem on this website. I am humbled by the creativity of my fellow pelvic soldiers. I am trying not to use that other “P” word. Lol. Sounds like…The Rain in Spain ..yes, that word which comes to dominate our bodies, minds and spirits. Tell it to PI$$ off! And always always love yourself. Some days it may feel like you cannot or that you are too broken. NO! YOU ARE AMAZING! I pray for each of you beautiful beings. We are so blessed and lucky to have resources and such a competent physician and therapists. I pray for all of those pelvic soldiers who are where I was 3 years ago — living in agony, trying so hard to work and appear happy and fine and not having a clue as to why I was in so much pain “south of the mason dixon line”. I was so scared. I feel for all of those who are currently seeing doctor upon doctor with no answer. Or simply are poor and lack health benefits. Or whose spouses and/or friends do not believe them. We need to raise awareness and lessen the stigma of talking about such intimate pain. I pray for everyone going through the pelvic journey. There is joy to be had no matter what. Laughter through tears and grief releases chemicals that give some relief. I send you all my love and positive energy for continued healing of body and spirit.

  3. Sue Carey December 10, 2013 at 4:54 am - Reply

    My copy of this amazing book arrived in the UK today, 9th December.
    I can only say a HUGE thank you to Soula for her immense creativity and vision, to publish such a unique book.
    I am overwhelmed.
    To hold it, to feel those strings, to read this wonderful work of Art, I felt understood at last.
    This is MY story too!
    I have been in this dreadful, debilitating pain for 19 years.
    In my case it was a violent, traumatic and ultimately unnecessary vaginal hysterectomy that caused my pudendal nerve to be either trapped, damaged or severed.
    Little was known about the condition in 1994, and I was dismissed as “cured or f***ing incurable”! That is what my Gynaecologist who performed the hysterectomy said to me.
    I was severely depressed, at risk of losing my teaching career, my marriage, my beautiful sons were 4 & 6, and I thought my life was over. Years later I was eventually offered pain management which involved daily exercises on a cycling machine (!), counselling to help with anger towards the Surgeon, and several different medications.
    It wasn’t until 2007 that I heard about Pudendal Neuralgia. Because my nerve has been damaged for such a long time, I had little success with Nerve blocks. Various specialists have helped to restore pelvic function. But basically I have been told to learn to live with it.

    Reading, savouring Soula’s book was like a ray of sunshine and hope.
    It will help me explain to people who really fail to understand why I haven’t “got over it yet!” why my life is the way that it is!

    I lost that much loved teaching career 10 years ago. My sons are 23 & 25. My husband is still with me, but finds the burden of being “the bread winner” stressful, whilst I can “take to my bed, and paint”!
    I have turned to Art. It helps.
    Sometimes I paint my pain. Sometimes I paint my hopes and dreams. Sometimes I just sleep!

    Now I know that I am not alone, and Soula, I am SO grateful.

    Thank you.
    With love, best wishes, and gentle hugs,
    Sue Carey xx xx

    • kerrie June 22, 2014 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      Cant wait to read it as an artist in chronic pain and dealing with an adversarial system have great respect for your fight anad courage Soula, and to Sue, very lovely and eloquent reply xxx

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