Hello, my name is Daina Deblette,
owner of Ocean Art Studio & Gallery
, a small art studio and teaching business on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia (Canada). A professional painter since 2004, and art teacher since 2006, I’ve taught people of all ages across Canada and throughout North and Central America. In 2016 I left everything behind – my marriage, financial and home security, friends and family, the only community I had known my entire adulthood – to bravely restart my life. I relocated from the maritimes to the Pacific north west where I settled in to a welcoming community that supported my business with often sold out classes and paintings. Just as I was beginning to thrive again, my health began to decline. I am a very private person, which makes this a difficult and vulnerable story to tell... My Story
I never imagined I’d experience a year more challenging for me than 2016 was, but 2021 proved unimaginable. I experienced the apex of an illness so complex, terrifying and painful, even my doctors were worried for my life. Yet they were as confused as I was about what the root cause could be. All too often I was told, “it's just your age,” because I’m a female in her mid-40s.
Against all odds, I learned to trust my body, and advocate for my health. Determined, I found an amazing Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in my health issues (Dr. Hannah Webb
) and my GP referred me to an Internal Medicine Specialist. Together, they quickly helped me solve a mystery that had been perplexing doctors for years. Equipped with answers, I began a course of treatments that finally began my healing journey, after years of ineffective prescriptions and treatments.
I had been living with mould for 5 years – insidious mycotoxins that wreak havoc in the body affecting multiple systems in 25% of those exposed to it; the rest of the population are able to form antibodies. Mycotoxins are volatile organic compounds from mould spore fragments that enter the body through the lungs and skin. They disrupt neurological, immunological, and endocrine function and more, leading to a confusing array of symptoms.
When the lockdown began in March 2019, I stopped going to the studio and started working exclusively from home. I was unknowingly exposing myself nearly 24/7 for over 27 months to a long-term leak from a faulty fridge in my cottage rental. The leak had been festering mould in the floor and walls for over 7 years until the connection was finally made in June 2021.
I immediately left the cottage until it was remediated. I moved back 3 weeks later. In only this short period of time away, I noticed symptoms improving. I underwent a series of blood work and urine tests; 3 strains of dangerous moulds tested positive at alarmingly high levels in my body. A complete hormone panel revealed some of the ways in which my body was being adversely affected. Through my experience and research, it appears HSPs (Highly Sensitive Persons, a trait I was born with; many creative empathetic types are), and female cycles especially, are affected most noticeably by mycotoxins.
The entire ordeal, beginning spring 2017 until December 2021, totaled 54 medical visits, including giving multiple urine and blood samples, physical exams, a psychological assessment, 5 ER visits, x-rays, ultrasounds – all spanning 11 doctors. To put in context, prior to this, my lifetime ER visits totaled 5 between childhood and my early 20s for accidents and stitches, while routine checkups were years apart. My early symptoms began with heart palpitations, hair loss and severe menorrhagia leading to debilitating anemia, adrenal fatigue, and chronic cough to name just a few. I didn’t have health insurance. I didn't qualify for business Covid relief. I didn't have the cognitive or physical capacity to apply for disability. In dollars, it cost me over $120,000 leaving me to carry an impossible burden of debt for a single entrepreneur solely responsible for both living and business location expenses.
Throughout the process I let go of people who didn’t support me, and I deepened friendships with those who did. With limited energy and resources, I sacrificed my home and business to prioritize health. My business income flatlined often. I received a "landlord's use" eviction notice a month after the remediation at a time when I was most vulnerable. Due to the housing crisis and inflation, I haven’t been able to secure a new rental since, so I’ve been house-sitting and staying with friends while I recover. Fortunately, I still have the studio thanks to my remarkably kind, compassionate landlord.
This traumatic experience has taught me how resilient and strong I am. I am also a 20-year survivor of domestic violence (DV) and narcissistic abuse, which I finally had the courage to end before moving here and starting over. So many of those years were positive, but I needed to face all parts of it to fully integrate the lessons learned and move forward. Compassion is an important step in the healing process, because abusers are also survivors of DV, a cycle of unhealed trauma response through learned behaviour. My morning journaling practice where I document my life experiences, has helped me process a lot in 5+ years. With your support, I am ready to spread my wings and thrive again, with the intention of paying it forward and helping as many people as I can through sharing my story. For so long I felt like I had to do everything alone, that to ask for help meant I somehow failed. But I know now that healing and success takes a community.
Looking back, I remember how helpless and scared I felt. I was medically diagnosed physically and cognitively disabled due to an unhealthy home that was meant to be my healing sanctuary after I left my marriage. It’s been a few months since the lease ended. The difference in my health since then is night and day. I am moved to tears of gratitude now, amazed how alive and clear I feel as I continue to recover. I still have a ways to go before I'm sustainably productive again, but it's coming. The body is incredibly intelligent how it communicates truth, and how seemingly miraculous the healing process is. Always listen and trust your internal compass above all. It could save your life, or lead you to a better one! Take a risk. Have courage and be brave. Find your voice. Allow yourself to be uncomfortable while you learn to trust your heart and make new choices. Follow @rebelthriver
on IG if you need extra love right now. Words of wisdom by @ellahickscoaching
, together with close friends and family, helped me feel like I wasn't alone; I felt validated and witnessed when I most needed support.
I am taking a huge risk and leap of faith here. Being a very private person stepping in to the discomfort of being extremely vulnerable, I am publicly facing my two greatest fears: Telling my story and asking for help. The aim is to raise enough donations to pay back the debt and hopefully enough to continue supporting my recovery plan moving forward for a few more months. I invested my life and business here; I don’t want to give up.
I will provide a link here shortly to a list of resources for those who are curious, or who are experiencing similar challenges. I invested in online business development courses prior to becoming ill, which I am now following through on completing to help me pivot and build a new art and teaching practice online. I am excited this purposeful path forward will empower me to reach and help many more people find their voice and follow their dreams too.
You Can Help
Your donations will enable me to:
- catch up on my studio rent so I don’t risk losing my beloved business location I single-handedly renovated $3,700 (Update: Paid!!)
- secure a safe, stable, quiet, healthy, bright, private suite or cottage while I rebuild my life
- pay back all the debts I accrued due to illness expanding almost 4 years $87,000
- reach more people, and offer help through sharing my experiences and resources
- seek psychotherapy to process trauma and learn cognitive behavior skills for success $3,600
- seek physical therapy to safely rebuild my body for a quicker and stronger recovery $3,600
- continue healing treatments and medicine to support my brain and body function $4,800
- focus on completing my online business development training, and build my online business to ensure I thrive successfully again
- give and receive the love, support, and community connection so many of us need right now
The fundraising goal is the bare minimum I need to raise. My hope is as it gains momentum and success, I can raise the goal to include the additional expenses moving forward to support my full recovery over the next 4-6 months.
If you’ve read this far, thank you for investing your time. I welcome positive support and encouragement in whatever form that shows up – as donations, sharing my campaign, kind messages, or leads on an affordable unfurnished cottage/suite to rent on Salt Spring Island (preferably with a sunrise view to inspire new paintings). Please understand that I am overwhelmed and have no capacity for (even well-meaning) advice or negative opinions; only kindness and loving support all around please.
I am immensely grateful for your life changing support!
Love and blessings, Daina
PS - Here are a few other ways you can help me:
1. Spread the word! Share this link with friends, family, colleagues, everyone- by email and social media https://gofund.me/e159f598
2. Follow me on IG @oceanartstudio
and FB oceanartstudio
3. Are you in the market for ocean-inspired art? Support my artwork in my online www.dainadeblette.com/shop
. Here is a special 22% off discount I'm offering exclusively through GoFundMe and my newsletter until January 31st. You can enter discount code 2222 at the checkout when you purchase an original oil painting at www.dainadeblette.com/shop
4. Commission me to create a meaningful custom oil painting just for you. Click to see my commissions
of sold paintings.
5. Are you interested in following my studio offerings of new painting releases, prints, and online classes? Sign up for my newsletter here (scroll towards the bottom) www.oceanartstudio.ca/daina
6. Are you interested in online art classes and workshops? I'm building an online teaching platform, Creative Courage Online School of Art. You're welcome to grow with me as I build it from the foundation up. Follow along on IG @creative.courage.school
7. Some people have expressed they'd prefer to donate through e-transfer to avoid the 2.9% credit card transaction fee. If this is you, my email is [email redacted]
(Fyi: The GoFundMe platform has a 0% processing fee for organizers and operates on tips, however the 3rd party payment transaction fee is deducted from each donation).
Thanks again, you guys are the BEST!