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 creative expression including writing and painting to be therapeutic and helps her to manage her mental health diagnoses of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).