Woman with Multiple Sclerosis Uses Art to Express Emotions Surrounding Her Condition
Yosafa Deutsch, 39, of Tucker, Ga., doesn’t make easy art. She works primarily in performance and installation art, and is compelled to create pieces that are emotionally challenging, she says. The discomfort comes from the subject material. Frequently, that material explores how Yosafa lives with multiple sclerosis.
“It’s the invisible disease thing that throws people off,” she says. “I look normal, but you can’t see the pain, the muscle spasms, the fatigue. Examining how you relate to your own body battling something like this is a tough subject to encounter.”
Yosafa was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2003 when she was living in Indiana – just a year after getting married. She experienced years of difficulties finding the right treatments and care. “I felt like I was lingering in a constant state of relapses,” she recalls. Still, Yosafa persevered with her art education. She finished a bachelor of arts degree in sculpture, studied printmaking and book arts abroad in Italy, and eventually earned a master of fine arts degree in visual arts from Washington University in St. Louis.
By the time she moved to Atlanta, though, she was determined to get her MS under control. “When I first found Shepherd Center,” she says, “I couldn’t stop asking, ‘How could I have not found you sooner?’”
In addition to finding the right treatment, Yosafa underwent cognitive testing, did physical therapy, went to the Shepherd Pain Institute and took mindfulness meditation classes. “All of it as a package, rather than only seeing a neurologist, made a world of difference,” she says, “not just physically, but attitude-wise and with being able to emotionally handle having MS.”
Beyond art, Yosafa has found new emotional avenues to explore, such as becoming a dog trainer, specializing in helping dogs with fear issues. She’s translated that passion into volunteer and part-time work with PAWS Atlanta and Canine Ph.D. Dog Training.
“Life is about constantly reassessing and readjusting,” Yosafa says. “It took a while, but I’ve found a space for myself and my mind where I’m giving and getting the things I really need. I’m very content with my life now.”
For more information on MS treatment at Shepherd Center, click here.
Written by Phillip Jordan
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 900 inpatients, 575 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year.