How art kickstarted my CPTSD healing journey
This piece is inspired from when art kickstarted my Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) healing journey.
My childhood was fucking ROUGH and my 20s were a wild ride, but I’m ok now. I have a successful career, own a home, and have an amazing 7 year old. I do okay for myself. 🌈 😃 ✨
Sadly, I still suffered from what I thought was just high functioning depression and anxiety. I felt awful for feeling awful and constantly had/have to fight off thoughts that tell me I am a loser, lazy, and should just die. 😐
I started seeing a trauma informed therapist in early March and learned about structural disassociation. Dissociation is a spectrum that can go all the way from daydreaming to dissociative identity disorder.
You can fall somewhere in between there. I honestly didn’t believe I could have some form of structural dissociation.
I doubted the severity of what happened to me and saw myself as resilient for not letting it get me down. But the reality is that if I actually remembered the traumatic nature of those memories fully, I wouldn’t be able to function.
The way I survived was by my brain 🧠 taking those things and finding a way to tell itself that it was no big deal, because the alternative would have left me paralyzed and at risk of being hurt worse.
“Having structural dissociation means we are split into different parts, each with a different personality, feelings, and behavior. As a result, we feel completely different from moment to moment. One moment we feel strong and happy, the next moment we feel empty and numb, then we feel rage. It might all happen suddenly without an apparent trigger.”
My stubborn self still couldn’t/wouldn’t believe it. I was convinced my new therapist was wrong, I just had depression, and was lazy.
Next, I told myself that if I really did have other parts to prove it, show itself. I told it to do something only I/we would know. None of this “move my left arm” stuff. I felt like I needed proof.
A few days later, I was coloring with my son and I turned the page over when I finished the sheet and just started drawing lines.
Drawing lines quickly turned into me drawing a face, which suddenly led to me quickly remembering how I used to draw this face ALL THE TIME when I was a teenager.
I sat there in awe, trying to keep my composure as I was filled with tears of joy and sadness. I told it I missed it, but that wasn’t all I remembered.
➡️ I remembered how I used to make a shit ton of cool analog collages.
➡️ I started drawing and getting better at it, quickly.
➡️ Realized how I had grown my design skills since I first started teaching myself html and graphic design in the late ’90s. But I never applied my skills to personal work since they’d grown.
➡️ I turned my passion into a career, but I lost my passion somewhere in there.
➡️ So I decided to apply what I learned 👩🎓 + my ❤️ of collages and digital art into making 🖼 again.
➡️ A few people saw my art and said I should make NFTs if I wasn’t already. I asked an NFT was and found an amazing community.
There is still a long ways to go with my journey and not sure it will ever end, but I know that the only way through it is with mindfulness and art.