Category Archives: Art Therapy

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Art Therapy Complex PTSD My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse Stages of Healing

The Emergency Stage: Stages of Healing

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The emergency stage is very disruptive. Memories and long repressed emotions bubble to the surface. Sexual abuse was all I could think about. I had no escape from it. I felt like I had lost my mind. I couldn’t sleep, wasn’t eating well, and wanted to run or hide. The feelings are overwhelming and this is when I started to feel even more suicidal. It felt like it was consuming me from the inside out and I was out of control.

New memories that had been locked away came forward. I had nightmares at night and flashbacks during the day. I wasn’t even able to escape into my head with dissociation like I used to. I got myself into therapy and talking to someone really helped me get through a lot of it. As I said in my last blog post that I felt like I finally got past this emergency stage. It still feels this way sometimes and I’m learning to cope better. I still use therapy on and off but what has helped the most is support from my family, friends and online community of survivors. I found forums like http://www.myptsd.com where I read about what other people were experiencing. That helped me not feel so crazy.

During this time I had almost constant anxiety along with anxiety attacks. It has taken me 4 years to figure out how to help myself. There are a ton of parts to healing so one 1 thing really doesn’t work it for me. It takes an arsenal but I am finally in a better place and the techniques I have learned are paying off. I still have a lot of anxiety but I’m better. The attacks don’t last as long and I don’t feel like I’m going to die when they happen. I am less scared. My body freaks out but I am able to talk myself down, breathe, and employ more things that get me through it.

If you are in the emergency stage please know that you are not going crazy. Find someone to talk to so that you don’t have to deal with it alone. There are some great communities out there on the web, forums, twitter chats, survivor communities online. Talk to your doctor about medications, if necessary There are also therapists trained in trauma recovery and group therapy you can attend.Talking to a therapist and reading about the stages helped me realize that this would pass. It will pass for you too. Another thing that helped me was to have a plan for when I was feeling desperate. That desperation for relief led me to feel suicidal. I just wanted the pain to stop. I didn’t really want to die but at times it felt like my only option.

Here is my Safety Plan to help me cope and de-escalate my suicidal ideation:
1. Deep breathing. I use a 1-2-3 method- 1 deep breath, hold to 2 counts, blow out for 3 counts, repeat, slower each time.
2. Focus on the people who love me and how we feel about each other.
3. Call my Mom-text my older brother-text my friend-talk with my online friends
4. Call a crisis line-
National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Rainn Nation Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
5. Go stay with my Mom
6. Contact therapist – make an appointment
7. Go to hospital.

You list might look a lot different from this and that’s ok. Do what works for you. You aren’t doing it wrong, just keep trying. Remember that what works can change. For me, some things work some of the time.

Grounding techniques are also very effective to help keep me in the present and not feeling lost in the flashback or memory. The mind is powerful and a flashback can have you feeling like you are being hurt all over again. These can also help if you are disassociating to stay more present. Try these out and see what works for you:

Employ your 5 senses- Touch, sight, sound, smell, taste
Touch: I like using a cold wet wash cloth. I hold it in my hands, feel the temperature, rub my arms and legs down, the back of my neck, my face. I also have some really soft blankets that I love the feel of. I have a rug in my bedroom that is fake fur and I go sink my toes in it. Wiggle your toes right now and notice the feeling of what your feet are touching. Turn on a fan and feel the air movement. I also go find my dogs and hold them, pet them, talk to them, They are always down for cuddles.
Sight: Notice what is around you, say it out loud, describe things. Art therapy can be very helpful to express yourself and shift your focus.
Sound: Play your favorite music, clap you hands, speak out loud
Smell: I use essential oils for anxiety like: Eucalyptus, lemon, orange, lavender. I also like rose and have rose hand lotion that works with a few senses because it feels good and smells good.
Taste: Eat something and notice the texture, how it tastes- is it sweet, sour, cold, hot? I love making tea and the whole process can be relaxing for me.

Change your state: sit if you are standing, stand if you are sitting. Put you arms in the air. Get up and dance a little or walk around. Stretch. Go outside and inhale some fresh air.

This is a pretty big list but doesn’t cover all the things to try. I don’t mean to throw a big list of stuff at you but it takes a lot of trying to figure out what is going to help you. If none of this works, try other things. Search for grounding techniques and you will find even more things to try. You are unique so what helps me might not work for you. Like I can’t do yoga yet due to it body memories. That’s why I don’t like it. This process also takes practice. Eventually I was able to practice mindfulness more throughout the day and it has helped me to stay more present instead of drifting off into my head. I found that drifting off and dissociating was making my flashbacks and memories worse. Once I got more of a handle on staying present I was able to better cope with many of the symptoms of my complex PTSD. Be gentle and patient with yourself. This is not easy at first because you are creating a new pattern of behavior. It literally takes practice for your mind to create the new pathways and go-to actions that will eventually become second nature. It does get easier the more you practice. These techniques can be helpful in other stages of healing and with stress management in general.

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Art Therapy Books Child Abuse Survivors Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd

PTSD with Anxiety SUCKS- Don’t Panic

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PTSD with Anxiety-Don't Panic

PTSD with anxiety is what I’m dealing with now. It has happened before and I’m sure it will many times as I cycle through the phases of healing. I really wish with all my heart that this process was faster. It takes as long as it takes. In the meantime, my heart races several times a day in the form of anxiety attacks. I’m doing my best to cope in healthy ways.

I haven’t written on this blog for awhile. I think I needed some alone time. Some quiet. It’s been a really rough year. Certain stages of healing make me mourn for my denial bubble. Knowledge is power, sure, but some of it hurts like hell. Sometimes it pisses me off. PTSD with anxiety is really painful emotionally and physically. I feel exhausted constantly.

Lots of things can help with anxiety: music, breathing, changing your immediate environment, ect. As recommended in the book, Courage to Heal, I am working on a list to refer to when I get desperate. Anxiety makes it difficult to think straight or remember things. Desperate feelings are one of the least pleasant things about it. I’m also resistant to things that are actually helpful and tend to rebel against them. Go figure! The right thing to do for myself is not always the easiest or 1st thing I think about.

Here’s my list below. Feel free to swipe it for yourself and add too it, make your own list. Print it out or write a copy, I’m printing mine out to tape up and see in a couple rooms. May we all find peace.

Help with Anxiety list

Help For Anxiety:

1. Breath
2. Wiggle your toes. Feel the ground under your feet. Feel the temperature of the room
3. Chew some gum.
4. Listen to some uplifting music
5. Let yourself cry
6. Find something to laugh at. Be silly but don’t criticize yourself
7. Play with my dog
8. Work on an art project
9. Dance to some funky beats
10. Yell into a pillow
11. Hit the pillow
12. Throw that fucker! (safely, lol, I’m laughing already)
13. Tell someone how much you appreciate them
14. Write a diary entry about what I’m grateful for
15. Remind myself that it is ok if I’m still anxious even after trying 14 things. Practice compassion.
16. Write a letter to my child self
17. Talk to myself in sign language in front of the mirror
18. Write in my journal
19. Call a family member
20. Help someone else
21. Listen to the soothing audio and video files from this program or other soothing guided relaxation
22. Record my own guided relaxation audio
23. Go for a walk or exercise/yoga/stretching
24. Verbalize out loud how I’m feeling

There are probably a lot more things to do that could help someone else. I haven’t included those due to my own personal triggers. It is also not in order. I skip around a lot. That is how my brain works though. Do what works for you! Some of them are: take a bath/shower, Wrapping yourself in a blanket and hugging yourself, meditate, ect. There are tons more that you can use to care for yourself when you are experiencing anxiety.

Thank you for reading my blog. It has really helped me to have a place to write and share. It feels so amazing to not have to carry this secret anymore. It released so much shame to just come out and tell people. Secrets perpetuate abuse so fuck that. I would promise to write more but I just don’t know if I will be able too. I’m living day to day, hour to hour, sometimes even minute to minute. PTSD with anxiety or whatever shitty symptom pops up to haunt me can fuck off. I’m living through this. I don’t mean to ruin the ending for you but SPOILER ALERT: PTSD doesn’t kill me.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Art Therapy Child Abuse Survivors Free Writing Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd

My PTSD is Trying to Kill Me Again

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“I will take your sleep which in turn robs you of your patience, your energy, and your ability to heal your physical body.

I will take your peace of mind and replace it with daily terror and fear. I will fuck with your memory, some days you will be not be able to put 2 sentences together, or remember to take care of yourself. You will question everyone around you and wonder if you can trust them but I won’t stop there. I will slowly grind away at your ability to trust yourself.

I will erode away at your self-confidence that you could be out in the world and survive. I will make you question your ability to survive by wrecking you with panic attacks, emotional flashbacks, and linking things in your normal life to your past so that it’s always right there in your face.

I will steal your peace away with flashbacks, hallucinations, and intrusive thoughts. I will make you feel crazy. I will pull you into a pit of despair as you struggle to smile and climb out.

Finally, I will steal your will to live. As you struggle to take it one day to time, hour to hour, and minute to minute, I will steal days, months, and years from you as you wait it out, wait to feel better, and wait for me to stop but I won’t. You will watch your life go by and everyone around you while you are at the state of paralyzing anxiety and stuck with me. My claws dig deep into your physiological flesh. I try to rip it.

I am such a mind fuck that I will not kill you myself but I will convince you to do it yourself or to be destructive enough in your urges that someone else might. I will convince you that it’s your only option and the only path to peace.

Death is the only peace-“

I SAY-FUCK THAT!

**This is the part where the superhero me, “self-care and love”  me comes in and kicks PTSD’s ass!

She ties up PTSD, and throws the fucker in the trunk.

“Enjoy the ride, ASSBUTT, you don’t need to be the front seat anymore!”

Superhero gets into the passenger seat and smiles at the driver which is me. In the backseat are my other selves the 3 year old child me, the twenty-something me, the teenager me, the villain me, the big angry guerrilla me, and all the others that occupy space in my mind that are all parts of me.

We listen to some music on the radio that we all like we jam out as we drive down the road to a happier life with PTSD securely in the trunk.

That’s how I see it in my head anyway. 28 people diagnosed with PTSD take their life every day. That is more than 1 per hour. Today, I am not one of them. This illness is trying to kill me and I will not let it. Not only with I live through this, just surviving, I will thrive and to my best to help lift other people up that are also suffering.

I’d really like to create videos of these scenarios as art therapy.  Hopefully, I can some day. I’m working on getting some special effects skills under my belt.

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Art Therapy

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I saw this photo on Tumblr the other day and I had to save it. It spoke to me. I loved it. I am a little bit of a art horror(but horrible with names) fan but that’s not what stopped me in my tracks when I saw this piece. It made me feel and cry and it inspires me to create artistic expressions of my pain. Words really don’t do any justice to feelings I had before there were words to articulate them. I need to make this more of a priority in my life. It would be good for me and something just for me so obviously I’m resistant.

It reminds me of a lot of things all at once and its not a bad thing but a rush that takes my breath away. I see different things in my minds and feel different things each time I see it. I don’t know who the artist is but I wish I knew. Maybe I could get a print.

When I first saw it I empathized with the creature. I saw myself, how I feel on the inside some days. Broken and hurting and yearning for some beauty in my life that’s out of reach. I saw feelings of powerlessness and of deep sorrow. Then it reminded me that most people will see the butterfly but not the scars that we suffer on the inside. Our culture says to only share the butterfly or something is wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with any of us for feeling something other than being happy. If you could see my scars, I might look somewhat like this figure.