Cambridge artist, Abi Stevens, launches a project to empower the chronically ill

Illustrator Abi Stevens, 31, is creating enamel pins for various chronic illnesses.

‘Chronic Warrior’ enamel pin

The pins will help raise awareness and enable open dialogue about the experiences of
long-term illness for the 15 million people in the UK who live with one.
Inspired by her own experiences of chronic migraines, she launched the first
collection in 2019 with “Chronic Warrior” and “Migraine Warrior” pins, now Abi has
launched a Kickstarter campaign to expand the range.

Abi said: “This project has always been about support and love for my sister, who
helped me through my own struggles with chronic migraine while dealing with her
own life-altering chronic illnesses.”

Hannah Stevens (Abi’s sister)

“Seeing how she has taken the most difficult experiences in her life and used them as
fuel to help others has inspired me to do the same and use my artwork for something

This year, she is expanding the series to cover a larger range of chronic health issues
to spread the message of strength and support to as many people as possible.
The pins include designs saying “Spoonie Sisterhood”, “Fatigued and Fabulous”,
“Fibromyalgia Fighter” and “Autoimmune Warrior”.
Spoonie is a term established by the chronically ill to explain what it’s like when they
run out of energy for the day. Spoon theory explores how every activity takes a single
spoon and, for the chronically ill, those spoons can run out far too quickly to be able
to effectively function on any given day.

“The first design, “Spoonie Sisterhood”, was inspired by the bond I have with my
own sister, who is also a spoonie, as well as the many supportive and encouraging
spoonie women who have helped me feel less alone.
“I've also included other new designs for those dealing with autoimmune disorders,
chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
“Over time I plan to continue expanding my range of pins to include as many people
as possible, including mental health, ADHD, autism, and physical disabilities.”
Growing up with both parents enduring migraines, Abi was aware of their
viciousness, however, her own experience with them did not reach boiling point until
2018, while she was working in a special needs school.

She continued: “My migraine attacks gradually became more frequent when I was in
my 20s, interfering with my ability to hold down a job and work on my illustration

“One spring day, I experienced a sudden and severe Migraine attack which blew all
my previous experiences out of the water.

“It remains one of the scariest experiences I’ve had: unbearable sound sensitivity,
light sensitivity, not being able to think clearly and unable to answer questions from
concerned colleagues who wanted to help.

“I was so distressed I ended up banging my head on the table in front of me to distract
myself from the pain. It was the start of a months-long period where I was mostly
bedridden with migraine attacks and daily debilitating symptoms.”Previously, Abi’s artwork was rarely inspired by personal experiences, but her
worsening migraines encouraged her to explore the symptoms in her work.
This began with a series on the classic symptoms of migraines, including light and
sound sensitivity, chronic pain and fatigue.

Abi Stevens

Having found immense support online from the spoonie community, she decided to
use her artistic skills to help others feel heard.

She said: “It was a cathartic and healing experience and I have found new purpose in
creating art that can help spoonies from all walks of life feel connected and inspired.

“The pins advocate for chronic illness by increasing the visibility of these issues and
visually describing them to able-bodied people.”

People who have previously used the pins say that they have helped them start
conversations around chronic illness and, one reviewer, uses her “Migraine Warrior”
pin to help medical professionals understand her condition when she is experiencing
stroke-like symptoms.

To support Abi’s campaign please visit: