I am a recovering perfectionist. A perfectionist is someone who puts unrealistically high standards on themselves with overly critical self-evaluations. Some may project that onto others as well.
I got triggered by my own perfectionism while painting a bird - my second attempt at painting a bird (below). I'd invited constructive feedback by other hobby artists during the process but then I felt my normally low blood pressure rise, I felt angry inside and I felt 'done'. My frustrations came out in scribbling paint over the background and overdoing the highlights as per suggestions. I knew I had to stop.
Over the past few years, I have been on a journey of processing trauma. Finally, I am seeing a trauma psychologist, and she agrees that I have been finding ways to process trauma on my own.
I am a very sensitive person and I can feel very intense emotions. So intense that I would 'shut down' all the emotion and the trauma would be locked inside, still there - frozen and stuck. It has been a process like in waves, to get unstuck. Sometimes there would be intense waves of intense emotion, like I expressed in the scribble below today. Scribbling messy words helped discharge intense emotions like anger.
Today I burned 15 journals I'd filled during a bipolar mania episode nearly two years ago. I flicked through them and condensed the essence of the journals into one page of some of what mania with trauma was like. I have been diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and they amplify each other. I was back on medications but it took MONTHS to try to get the mania under control. I've summarised some of what it was like below, based on skim-reading the journals before I burned them:
Today I burnt 15 journals. Journals I had written during months of a mania episode after going back on medications for bipolar 1 disorder two years ago. I was encouraged by my psychiatrist to journal rather than blurt out all my disjointed thoughts on Facebook. So I filled over 20 books, mostly school exercise books and scrapbooks with colourful scribblings, often in felt tip pen rather than biro.
I had felt an extreme need to express myself at the time. I understood what I wrote, but it would have been complete nonsense to anyone else. Trauma was a recurring theme in amongst all the mind-maps, associations and symbolism. I was trying to process my trauma and calm my racing brain. Often my brain was racing too fast and was too disorganised to write, so I painted brightly coloured abstracts instead.
Xanthe finds writing and painting to be therapeutic. She has lived with mental illness for over 25 years. She has been diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder after originally being diagnosed with 'treatment resistant' depression with general anxiety.