Here is my 60 second interview on Artfinder in which I explain how painting was an integral part to my recovery from post traumatic stress disorder. I also explain my technique, inspirations, influences and how post trauma impacted on my art. Although I do not mention it explicitly in the interview “Fractured Light” was born and borne out of my worldview being fractured as the result of my post trauma which occurred as the result of a car accident. Thus the fractured perception of this painting represents my perception at the time. As my recovery continues and my mental health improves I find my painting also metamorphizes into being more expressive, coherent, unfolding, lighter and celebratory (if not relieved). Less fractured.
I have to add that my post traumatic illness has revolutionized my way of painting. By husband suddenly became much more interested in my work and has acted as my agent ever since. He was now sure that I had the necessary ‘scar on the soul’ to make it as an artist. That I had made the breakthrough. I still paint prolifically because I need to paint still, not only professionally but must importantly in a therapeutic sense. Painting is when I am most ‘whole’ alive, engaged, fulfilled, free from self and doubts. Principally I write about how art has been a massive and continuing therapeutic benefit to me even though I initially returned to it very ‘broken’ despairing and distraught. I hope to engender some hope in other suffering form this most misunderstood mental health problem. I do not mean to say art was the only part of my therapy. EMDR was a vital core to my treatment and I would recommend this to others also. Now I paint with urgency, painting, painting, painting.
Life is unpredictable, it is best to seize the day and to enjoy the precious gift we have to the best of our ability. Most suffers of PTSD will not relate to this sentiment at present in they are in the terrifying, disjointed, fractured, despairing heart of it. I have been there too! The light at the end of the tunnel probably looks microscopic and is, in fact, a train coming. The light does eventually become bigger and brighter until you arrive on the other side and experience a brightness until then never experienced with such intensity. There can be a rebirth from this dark tunnel.
The intrusive memories have lessened. I re-experienced and reprocessed the negative emotions- the fear, distress, helplessness, guilt, shame, faulty pride etc – which kept memories from being safely embedded in my hippocampus. Blaming myself for things beyond my control, that were not my fault, never were my fault. Random happenings, with no logic to them, no way of understanding them into reason, they were accidents, not in the script. Life can be like that, period.
Why is not always helpful. How is. How can I get out of this distress? Perceiving things as they were, not what my brain continually told me meant I had to revisit the trauma, re-experience it and correct the faulty thoughts and destructive emotions which accompanied the memories of it. Eventually allowing these memories to rest in my long term memory instead of continually stalking and attacking my equilibrium I started to feel better. Although it was exhausting and left me this way afterwards and to an extent now. Still, these months later. It can get better, not perfect. It never was perfect. Ever.
The mind and brain do not like being ill, they rally against it. This is often counter productive. First we have to accept we are in distress, suffering from a mental illness, that we need help from professionals, support form family, faith that we can recover. Check out EMDR professionals in your area. Start the journey to wellness knowing it can be done and will be done. Have faith, you will get better in time. Have courage especially, be brave.
I still have about 40-50% the energy I used to have but I have more peace of mind and gratitude for what I have, not what I wanted to have. I am still in recovery still getting better. It will take more time, months and months if not years. But I have turned a vital therapeutic corner. So can you. Life has create new possibilities, new avenues to explore, pathways that were never obvious before, and which have ultimately led me back to me, to knowing me, to doing more of what I would want for me, that which expresses me most.
To my fellow PTSD sufferers, you have my love, best wishes, and support here on this blog should you need it. Spread the word – we can recover from PTSD, one day at a time! Just live this day, that is enough for now and for always…
I include a painting “Up Cwmdonkin” which was a painting representing a movement in my therapy, a getting better, a unforeseen island of relief in a, until then, daily tempest. I love this as it reminds me of the warm seaside breeze that can caress the autumnal leaves of the trees at the top of Cwmdonkin Park, a park hugged by the house that Dylan Thomas, the famous Welsh composer of words, lived in while growing up. The light wind almost signifies a ‘breathing out’, an emerging respite after months of therapy.