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.
I had a migraine (always tension-related) and I was feeling angry about various things. It has been a huge progression for me to allow myself to feel the emotion of anger as it is trauma related for me. I needed to express this somehow (without hurting others), otherwise the anger would eat me up inside, making my migraine worse and contributing to other health issues. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) plus had many physical health issues.
I decided to take out a large piece of paper and write out what was bothering me on it. Instead of writing in my journal or starting a painting. The red felt tip pen I chose faded out, so I chose brown (a colour I usually avoid when painting). Shitty brown. I wrote in big, messy words and then turned the paper and kept writing in another direction until I ended up with a pile of patterns and could hardly make out any words. I found this to be a tremendous release.
I've done this before when I was angry about something that I didn't want to ever read again. I wrote in red pen in my journal (I was manic at the time as well as processing trauma). I don't know what I was angry about any more because I can't read what it says, other than make out a few of the words in a 'flight of ideas' - jumping from one thing to another in purple. I ripped out the page and kept it, because it reminds me that it was therapeutic to express when feeling intense emotion.
I felt the arousal energy build and then diminish, like a wave. And no-one got hurt in the process - including myself (I had suicidal thoughts along with the strong emotion until I expressed it). Scribbling it out was like 'downloading' it, to get it out of my system. I made it in disguise so that even I will forget what it was about. My migraine has diminished significantly - a lot of my migraines I've linked to trauma triggers and stress.
I didn't burn or throw away the brown scribbles right away. Might layer scribbles of colour pencil on top perhaps? A mood abstract? That was how many of my abstract paintings were formed - only using paint and not usually using words. I've also done this with layers of crayons over and over.
The drawing above, Rebirth, was when I was in a 'mixed state' (features of bipolar mania and depression at the same time) and also processing trauma. I felt very frantic at the time expressing my trauma. I broke at least one crayon because I pressed so hard.
I wrote and scribbled in crayon over and over until it couldn't be read anymore, apart from very faintly along the edge, 'He stole my innocence' and the word 'can' - with the 't' in can't crossed out. Then I used a glue stick and glitter and made a symbolic butterfly shape using the initial of my first name, Xanthe. I changed my name to Xanthe because my previous name because a trauma trigger.
I am still healing. It's not an overnight process. It's at times a very painful process. I will not give up.
I burned 15 journals yesterday - that was therapeutic for me too. The remaining journals (most of them written when I was more 'stable'), I will pick through to find any 'gems' before they get burned too. All part of the process of releasing and letting go of painful emotions and memories.
Update: After I wrote this post, I wrote all over the brown scribbled words with scribbly words in colour pencil. Don't remember what I wrote now, but it felt satisfying.
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.