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What is Zentangle?
Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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STORIES: Zentangle provides relief from medication withdrawal and Parkinson’s Disease

In this occasional series on TanglePatterns, readers describe in their own words how Zentangle® has changed their lives. For more accounts in this series, click on the “STORIES” link in the alphabetical listing above.

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STORIES: How Zentangle changes lives

I have been on several prescription medications for anxiety and depression for over 20 years.

I was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease so it was incumbent on me to get off of as many of these drugs as possible so I could clear the way for further prescription help with the Parkinson’s. Little did I know that Zentangle would be my sole help during these months of withdrawal from my medication for anxiety.

Each time I felt the very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms come on I would sit down in my easy chair and begin drawing tangles. You know I spent almost three and a half weeks for up to 12 hours a day doing Zentangles to keep me calm and focused on keeping my sanity. It worked like a charm.

By the way, one would think that having Parkinson’s Disease with all the hand and body shaking, one couldn’t begin to tangle. I beg to differ … Zentangle has changed my life. I can now write, as before my signature came out very tiny or illegible (micrographia). The constant drawing has rewired my brain to accept hand-to-brain signals and has even helped me to do more things I couldn’t do before, like typing on the computer.

I really feel that Zentangles can help many people with so many difficult life problems if they only took the interest to start a Zentangle. You can meditate on your situation and continue to draw with the certain outcome that you have produced a wonderful Zentangle or more as I found out.

I started back into watercolors, colored pencils, pen and ink and more. I haven’t been able to hold my hand still long enough for over two years, maybe more. Now that I have completely come off my anxiety medicine I have a better outlook towards my artistic nature. I want to paint and draw even more. I believe Zentangles has reopened my natural God given talents in such a wonderful way. I still do several Zentangles a day and at least one larger ZIA each evening before I go to bed.

I can’t thank you enough for starting the How Zentangles help change my life series on line. What a great way to express your newfound joy in life.

Sincerely, Debbie S. – Miami, FL

ZIA by Debbie S

Zentangle-Inspired Art (ZIA) by Debbie S., used with permission.

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If you would like to share your own experience for this series, please email me (linda [at] tanglepatterns [dot] com). You can make your story as long as or short as you like and if you wish your personal details to remain private, I will certainly honor that.

By publishing your “testimonials”, I’m hoping it will help spread the word about Zentangle to many others who can REALLY benefit from it. As Zentangle’s founders say, “Anything is possible, one stroke at a time.”™


27 comments to STORIES: Zentangle provides relief from medication withdrawal and Parkinson’s Disease

  • Beautiful story, thank you for sharing it.

  • Patricia Raygor

    What an inspiration you are, Debbie. It certainly takes strength and concentration to do this. Congratulations and good health.

  • Cathy

    Thank you for your story! I just started Zentangle by taking my first class today. I have been doing the patterns for almost a month. I have shaky hands and was really upset about it. Your story gives me hope that I too can reclaim my art.

  • Debbie S..

    I want everyone to know Zentangle really works for meditative therapy. My Parkinson letter is a tribute to Rick and Maria’s work. Their creativity and thoughtful sharing has helped so many people I know now. I can only hope we can share more Zentangle information with all our friends. I have decided to buy Basic Kits for several members of my family as a Christmas Gift. If you ask them would they like this for Christmas they might be undecided. Give it to them and let them discover what all of us have already discovered, just how wonderful it really is.

  • Hi Debbie. I really understand your feelings. I have an incurable cancer and started learning Zentangle® from the cancer institute. It is an amazing way to reduce pain! My saying is: with Zentangle®, there is no cancer! Good luck to you!

  • Collette

    Thank you for sharing your story. My husband has Parkinson’s and I am going to share this with him and hopefully can get him started tangling too.
    Thanks again.

  • Linda Heuston

    Thank you for sharing your story, Debbie! What an inspiration for many who might be going thru a difficult time as well, to pick up pen & paper and try Zentangles. I’m so glad to hear you are in a better place and have regained ability and confidence! Best of luck to you!

  • Cita

    Best of luck to you Debbie. You have discovered that the Zentangles let our thoughts move away form difficult procedures.
    I have used Zentangles during past chemo infusion treatments. I just had them put the needle into my left hand. It made the time go by very fast. It is also fascinated fellow patients. It was very enlightening when I taped up the pictures from all 3 of the treatments that I had.
    I just start with some squiggle lines and go from there. As there are no smells from my black pen, I used only the black pen while there. If no one was around me, I added color with my Sharpies.
    Since those times, I now carry a small sketch book and, using a credit card, draw a frame – about 2 to a page. During waiting times in doctor’s offices I get a lot of Zentangles drawn. I put color on them at home. Then I cut them out, and holding the black Sharpie pen steady, run the edge of the card up against the vertical pen tip, A quick glue stick and maybe some extra squiggles, I have plenty of cards made to give away. (I always make a color copy of what I did so that I can possible use some of the designs for art quilts.)

  • Gab

    Wow what an amazing story. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Tracey A

    I couldn’t agree more with what you have experienced by tangling Debbie.

    I have Spina Bifida, so chronic aches and pains (particularly back pain) are just a ‘part of life’. I have been using meditation and reiki for quite some time as drug-free therapies. I am not a ‘good’ meditator as I find ‘busy/monkey mind’ gets in the way. Anyway, since I began tangling a couple of weeks ago I have found my pain levels reduced and with THIS type of focussed meditation there is simply NO space for monkey mind to get in the way. It’s a great gift. We all need to ‘spread the word’!!

  • Linda D.

    Debbie, as a parkinson’s “club member” also, I want to thank you for your story. I,too, have found Tangling to be enourmously relaxinig and fulfilling. It seems to help with concentration and I have found I am in a more “Zen”(?) state in my daily life. I was diagnosed 7 yrs. ago and finding Zentangles has been a God-thing for me. Lots of meds and an unknown future, BUT for today, I’m going to keep on “Tanglin’!

  • Sharon Wrench

    Your stories are an inspiration. Debbie, your art work is beautiful! I felt fortunate to have been introduced to Zentangle just before my second hip replacement. It is amazing how absorbed you get when you are ‘tangling.’ It really does keep your mind off of your pain and recovery seems faster. Thanks to all of you for sharing a part of your life with others. Your art work and kind spirits will help many people both mentally and spirtually.

  • Debbie, thank you so much for sharing this. My husband has Parkinson’s. He is now 86 and has seen how tangling has helped me cope with caring but I have to confess that I hadn’t thought of suggesting that he tried it because of his difficulty in controlling his tremor. He is a musician and used to play the violin but had to give that up because he couldn’t play in tune or control the bow. He also was a cabinet maker. All those things have gone now and he does get depressed at times – small wonder. However, tangling does help to calm me down, relieves my stress and takes me out of myself. I run a self-help carers’ support group for carers living in our village and the surrounding rural area of South Warwickshire in England. Three months ago, I introduced the concept of Zentangle. The result was quite dramatic as one of our carers, on her first visit, suddenly burst into tears and all her troubles poured out. We were able to organise help for her and she rang me a few days later to say how much better she was feeling. I am sure that in the quiet of the room, away from her situation, tangling helped towards her release. I certainly does mine.

  • Bonnie P

    Thanks so much for sharing that. My mother died 8 years ago of Parkinson’s Disease. I wish I could have introduced her to this. Maybe it will help others though. All the best to everyone who finds relief from whatever ails them.

  • Marguerite Meara

    Congratulations on your fight against this horrible disease. Your works are remarkable.

  • Thank you for this awesome story! I re-posted part of this at, hope that’s okay. And I ordered 3 kits, for my two sons and me. Can’t wait to tangle! –Lee

    • Linda Farmer, CZT

      Welcome to Zentangle, Lee, and thanks for your order. A very nice early Christmas gift for yourself and your sons! Glad to have you aboard and look forward to hearing from you again … Cheers and happy tangling!

  • Lynette W

    Thank you for sharing your story, Debbie! How inspiring. I am passing it along to my tangle-friends. I have had some relief from carpal tunnel, if you can believe it, since starting to tangle. I am also on blood pressure meds (high)and I am hoping and praying that by continuing with this activity, I will be able to lower my dose and eventually quit all together. I am able to think clearer, I am more relaxed and ideas are beginning to flow better the longer I do it. So I am sharing with many this amazing activity! Debbie, I wish you the very best and many happy tangles! Thanks again, for opening up and sharing! 🙂

  • Pam L.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Zentangle is so enjoyable and theraputic. I feel blessed to have been invited by a dear friendto partake in a class. Now, I can tangle anxiety away.

  • lynne howard

    I just want to say that I have essential tremors in both hands at times it is quite frustrating but I find the tangle help me better control over my tremors. When I am not drawing I tend to have a harder time with the shaking. I truly am very encouraged by this person life story. Thank you

  • Very inspiring, thank you so much for sharing your story Debbie. I have an aunt who also has Parkinsons Disease – I will pass on your lovely story – Blessings xx

  • Cheryl

    I started having panic attacks this summer. Im on medication but still feel them coming on occasion and out of no where. Im 62 and have put my life on the back burner for others for several. I used to be a very good artist , but also let that be pushed from my life. Then I found Zentangle! Art I can take anywhere. Do in a short time and it calms my nerves. When I complete one I feel at peace. I thank God for finding this at a much needed time in my life.

  • Lynn

    Debbie, your story really struck a chord with me. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 11 months ago. As a painter, the news was devastating. How was I going to be able to make art? How long did I have before the disease completely robbed me of my greatest joy? In the weeks following my diagnosis I’d wake up every morning with a sense of dread. I felt helpless and powerless and thoroughly terrified.

    Fortunately a fellow artist had already introduced me to Zentangles, and I was already an enthusiastic tangler. The sense of calm I experienced as I tangled became a blessed relief from all the stress and worry. As the days passed, I began to stress less. I was able to completely forget my troubles when I was in my “Zentangle Zone.”

    Since then, I’ve continued to tangle and paint. And I’ve taken up jewelry making! I’ve started designing beads that I make from fiber, wood and paper, combining them with purchased beads in necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

    Oddly enough, I have yet to have a major bead spill despite my tremors. I learned about a device called a Third Hand on a website for artists with disabilities. It allows me to do what non-Parkies can do with ease: tighten the beading thread and apply crimps. My neurologist is very happy that I’m working with beads. He says it’s an excellent way to maintain dexterity in my hands.

    Recently I combined tangles with bead making: I created a series of beads featuring Zentangle type patterns. These beads represent a lot to me. They’re a reminder that even when we’re faced with serious physical limitations, our situations are not hopeless. We’re much stronger than we think, and we’re resourceful. We can adapt. If someone had predicted 11 months ago I’d be embarking on a whole new career as a jewelry artist, I would not have believed them. But they’d have been right!

    As you’ve already discovered, this disease can’t stop us. Your work is lovely, Debbie. I’m so glad you’ve shared your story and your beautiful art. Keep up the good work! Your art and your determined spirit are inspirations to us all!

  • Mary

    I was on lithium for about 2 years. It gave me a horrible tremor. It was so bad I couldn’t hardly write. After getting off the lithiumi still had the tremor. Since doing the tangles,I can write again! My hand is steady and I can even draw straight lines!I absolutely love Zentangle!

  • Liz

    I feel totally humbled by Debbie and all those who have placed comments about her plight. I only hope that I am even half as positive as all those wonderful people when my time comes for such health problems. I can certainly feel for Cheryl as I spent 12 terrible, terrible years suffering panic attacks. Eventually I overcame them, step by step, and can only tell her that if she can find something that she really wants to do then to follow it without hesitation as that will be the thing to lift her out of the pit. Hopefully Zentangle will be that thing. Perhaps attending classes and making new friends there will be a good starting point. God bless all

  • Linda, thank you for sharing Debbie’s story. It is moving and so gratifying to hear how Zentangle has impacted your life, Debbie. I am sending you good thoughts and blessings for health and creative joy. And…am including Lynn, above, too. Both of you are inspiring!

  • Jeanne Squires

    Just the type of story I love hearing about, as I have known through grief therapy, many similarly affected women who need to withdraw from medication for individual reasons. I applaud Debbie’s story and thank you Linda for the opportunity for all to share it. Most necessary.

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