Tag Archives: expression

Authenticity (of expression) 

Authenticity of expression is something I struggle with often. I’m constantly worried about what people may think, and the consequences of their opinions. 

This is especially true of my art. While it’s often the most authentic expression of self I’m able to reveal, I worry a lot that people will change their opinion of me based on what they see. I worry they will hate me, and deem me less worthy than even I deem myself. Sometimes I’m able to get past that in my art journals, but lately, even that has been censored. 

I feel stuck around being unable to express what needs to be expressed in any authentic manner. I find myself replacing the reality of what I want to create, with a “rainbows & butterflies” edit. I’m stumbling in therapy and focusing on the same, safe methods of expression; the ugly, scary stuff is replaced with a unicorn sticker…

There’s so much “icky” stuff floating around in my head, but I go silent when it comes time to talk about it. There’s a buffer between my brain and my mouth, and my brain and my hands. Things leave my brain one way, but get “prettied up” before they have a chance to be expressed. 

This piece wasn’t supposed to look so peaceful and serene… it was supposed to represent the struggles around trauma. It was supposed to express the loneliness and alone-ness of experiencing flashbacks and memories no one else knows are even there. It was supposed to be more graphic… but in the last minute, I froze, and changed the “gore” to “pretty” and ” socially acceptable”… 

Lately, no matter what I do, no matter my intentions at the start, everything gets censored for the comfort of everyone else. That all just leaves me feeling more alone and distant than before I started. 

I want to be able to convey what it feels like to constantly remember the physical sensations of things long past. I want to express the hopelessness and fear and loneliness and frustration and betrayal… but I end up stuffing it down and covering it up. 

It’s a betrayal of a different kind; a betrayal of my inner voice… it’s really frustrating. 

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D.E.S. results chat

Talked to Dr C about the results from the assessment, and I took it again with her. I scored a 44 this time… we looked up the scoring; doesn’t look like you can score much higher than a 50… I’m not DID though, so…? I dunno. 

I had questioned how reliable my self-report could be if my score changed so much in just a day. I questioned if maybe I was exaggerating things on the questionnaire. She said that it sounded more like I was trying to downplay my experiences (I was talking to her about a few of the questions).  I have trouble quantifying my experiences, so I’m not sure I answer the same way each time. She said that the test was statistically quite accurate and reliable. She also mentioned that one of the underpinnings of dissociation is not being able to remember the act of dissociating. So, I guess that’s another check in the “you’re really fucked up chicky-do” column… :/

She asked if I was worried about a DID diagnosis. I reflexively answered “no” because I don’t see it as that bad & because I’ve seen DDNOS on my records, so others don’t think it’s that bad. I think I’ve talked to her another time about it also, and I think I remember ruling out DID, so there’s that… but on the way home, I kinda panicked about whether her thoughts on it were evolving to lean more towards that diagnosis. I just text her asking if she was seeing DID. I’m not sure she will answer that through text or not, but as long as we address it at some point, I think I’ll feel better about it. 

I know my dissociation can be severe at times because I’ve completely lost days, weeks, and even months in the last decade. I guess I just don’t think it’s that severe all the time. I don’t see too much evidence pointing to DID other than L’s frustration around never knowing what to expect from me in terms of likes and dislikes…

We chatted more about dissociation and the functions of it. We talked about other coping skills for handling the body sensations and the flashbacks. I think she kinda came to the conclusion that even my healthier coping skills utilize dissociation to a degree. We talked about the writing and the art, and how I often don’t really remember what was created. We did differentiate the “flow” of creating vs more dissociative aspects of it. I think with both the art and the writing, part of the creative process is having no real direction and letting the piece take over its own evolution. It’s when I can’t recall writing something (like a blog entry) or creating something, that the dissociation plays a bigger role in that coping strategy… there are definitely some things I have to look at over and over again because they seem familiar, but I don’t connect to having made them.

Dr C commented that dissociation, especially such intense dissociation, takes a lot of energy. I countered that it’s actually the least draining of my coping skills, but now that I think about it, I wonder if that contributes to the constant exhaustion. I know some of it is the depression, but maybe she’s right; maybe the dissociation is exhausting as well. 


Journal page update

Worked on this page again today. Still trying to figure out what to do in the top left corner…

An artist friend suggested a nose, though at first I was thinking the lack of one is symbolic of how depression makes you feel like you can’t breathe. I dunno. It still needs something. The right side definitely needs work too, but that’s looking like a total overhaul. This side just needs *something*…

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I have to admit though, I worked my butt off on those stupid strings sewing her mouth shut. I must have redone them at least 5 times. They look a bit better in the photograph than in real life, but I’m still pretty proud of them. I had originally planned to glue actual thread on there, but wanted a more 3-d look to her lips, so I painted them in… I’m sure they look amature to more experienced artists, but they’re the best I’ve done so far. I’m happy with how they turned out.


A wonderful afternoon

The wife and I spent the afternoon with the kids. We carved large pumpkins, painted smaller ones, watched Hocus Pocus, and had a grand time enjoying the activities and each other’s company.

As much as I wanted to bawl my eyes out before we got there, getting lost in the moment with the family helped me move out of that frame of mind.

I’m once again anxious about the upcoming fundraiser on Tuesday (for domestic violence awareness), but there was some escape during the day today. I also settled on calling the piece “finished” (mostly because I turn it in tomorrow). I just need some paint to finish drying, and to figure out a frame, and it’s good to go…

I’m glad today was planned with the kids, and I’m glad I was able to immerse myself in the moment to fully enjoy it. We all need that total immersion in something outside ourselves from time to time ❤


New art journals

I realized earlier today I forgot to post the journal class project… didn’t end up doing what I had intended, but it’s OK. The art has a life of its own. It’s not totally finished, but this is as far as I got (and I’m not sure what else it needs)…

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I was originally going to do “my 5 strengths” but I ended up putting the guy in the corner. It felt appropriate to flick him off the page. Then I accidentally smudged it, and it looked like he was being rained on from the umbrella… I guess he represents the things I need to get rid of this year (or try to: depression, hopelessness, fear, ptsd, self harm, suicidal ideation, flashbacks)… still unsure what else to put in this piece, but it’s got meaning (and again the darkest subject matter in class). Whatever, right?

Two nights ago, I finished this piece. The background was done one night, the words two nights later… more lyrics that mean something (words fail you by Kris Delmhorst)… words often fail me, but images can be more reliable.

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It also did not turn out exactly how I had intended, but close enough. I may add to it at some point, but I’m not sure I want to. The original layer is torn pages from APA’S journal of psychotherapy. Fitting that words and neat categories are covered by the darkness. Sometimes there are highlights, but the tiles holding the words are falling… because words fail sometimes.

Heard Kat Dahlia‘s “gangsta” again on a show tonight. I know I had noted liking her music when I heard it somewhere else, but I had lost the Shazam tag before I could find the song. Got it again tonight and proceeded to download the song. I guess her album is not available in the us till Tuesday… I like what I’ve heard so far. I’ll probably get the album when it comes out. She kinda reminds me of a cross between Angel Haze and Kat Von Dee… and she used a rainstorm in this song… worth checking out.


today is a new day

I ended up at the beach last night.  It was nice.  I will really miss the beach after the move (it’s a mere 20 minutes from here, but will be about an hour from where we will be living… and there will be no palm trees or wading in the winter months).  I really needed the time away.  I needed to think and drown in my music.

I can’t remember which blog turned me on to Angel Haze, but I am in love.  She’s inspirational, positive, and kicks ass.  I can’t pick a favorite song because I like almost all of them.  Dirty Gold is my current obsession, but there’s also Battle Cry (ft. Sia), Angels and Airwaves, A Tribe Called Red, Same Love (remake)… and ok, just about all of them…

I have been fighting strong self-harm urges since the TSA line back up north.  I guess it’s a good thing they no longer allow sharps in the airport because I would have shredded my arm and leg in the airport bathroom before boarding, they were that intense (and I had that little resolve at the moment).  Music has been my centering tool.  I have not picked my art up again yet, but the iPod is glued to my side, with earbuds wedged into at least one ear.  If I don’t have my iPod on, I am playing music through the computer or my phone.  I am sure I will run through the gamut of coping skills in my repertoire before De returns from vacation.  This weekend is a long weekend and most people already have plans.  M and I will be spending more quality time together. It’s not a bad thing, but we have forgotten how to interact. We don’t have simple casual conversations, it’s only ever stuff that lights one of us on fire (if not both).  I wish I remembered how to talk to her.  I wish I knew how to rekindle that close relationship we had back in the day (or at least I think we had).  We are both lost in our own drama.  When we meet, we tend to collide because the spinning arms of the drama hit before we meet causing sparks to fly and fires to light.

I volunteered for a research project on reporting sexual violence.  I’m not 100% sure what they are looking into, but I believe De had said they are looking into how to improve the reporting experience, and what causes barriers to reporting.  I was supposed to meet the lady tomorrow at De’s office, but they will be closing early for the long weekend.  The lady will be coming here later on this afternoon.  I hope the dogs don’t maul her while trying to get her attention (they LOVE people SO MUCH they are not quite sure how to contain themselves. I also suck at keeping up with their training, and they don’t get out as much down here. They do better when they have seen other humans recently).  The questionnaire should take no longer than 15 minutes she says, so it shouldn’t be too painful.  I don’t think it will be too triggering either, so it should be well worth the money I get from it… I miss research opportunities.  While I was never a fan of writing the papers, I did enjoy coming up with the ideas for the papers.  I love expanding the knowledge base on things that we don’t quite know too much about.  I love education, and helping people understand things.  I wish someone would do more research on the after-effects of sexual violence.  There’s so much anecdotal stuff out there, but so little “official” understanding of a lot of it.  I recently found a blog entry on a topic I have never really seen discussed in print.  I know I have been told that it is not uncommon for assault/abuse survivors, but I had not seen anything even remotely close to educational about it anywhere before.  It is also one of the few places to write about it as a function of coping with the abuse vs a pathology simply deemed psychotic.  I wish medical professionals had access to that information.  I think I may have gotten some more effective treatment earlier on had the doctors seen it as something that makes sense in the context of my trauma.  I’m fighting with the thought of posting a link to it here because I don’t think it’s something I’m ready to admit to anyone outside of a few select people.  I know it would have helped me immensely seeing it before now. It helps ease some of the shame to know (other than just hear one or two professionals tell me it is not uncommon and it makes sense) that others struggle with it.  I was surprised to see the number of comments on that post (well over 200?!) from people all struggling with it in one form or another. I’m just not ready to go public with that aspect of my struggle. I guess I could post a link to the blog itself, and let you wade through the posts to find the one I’m talking about… I just… I can’t say it right now. Not yet.  It’s still something I’m working on with De (and eventually with whomever I see up north)… Anyway, the blog is called Blooming Lotus. She has not written recently, but there’s a ton of good stuff on there (at least stuff that can help you feel less alone).  I hope, if you struggle with anything she speaks about, you will find some peace in knowing that it really is something others struggle with… and that’s coming from people who know it first-hand, not just through trainings or clients…

On a totally random note (random because I’m not 100% sure what train of thought led to this) but how can you hold two completely opposite and contradictory ideas as true at one time?  I know DBT covers some of this, but I am allergic to DBT, so I don’t really remember the concept behind the “dialectics”.  I’m talking about such opposing ideas that they should not be able to be held as true at the same time because they virtually cancel each other out.  If I tweak one idea, it’s a little easier to understand how I can hold them both true and correct at the same time, but they are not tweaked, nor do I wish to tweak them.  One is the concept of  “never, ever give up.” The other is the right to “bow out” as each individual sees fit.  Suicide is seen as giving up, so how can I hold that sentiment with the belief that everyone has a right to give up if they choose to do so? How can I advocate for life at any cost in one breath, and the freedom of choice to end your own life in the next?  I am not currently suicidal, though the freedom to have that “escape route” is calming to me.  I hold at once the obligation to fight any and all demons, and the option to give in to the desire for peace and an ending.  How is that even possible?  Maybe it’s that I understand the pain on both sides.  I have felt the desperate need for relief, and I have felt the devastating black hole born of the death of someone I care for deeply.  I grew up with the women in my family (and possibly even the men, but I don’t remember that as explicitly) lamenting about death being around the corner.  My grandmother said that she would die soon (should die soon, needed to die soon) since before I was born.  My mom would always say she wanted the right to kill herself should she ever be incapacitated (she wanted to make sure we all understood and agreed with her right to choose to end her life if she could no longer live it the way she was used to living, be it physical or mental).  I think I recall my father saying similar things.  No one ever expected to “get old”, yet the only person who did not speak regularly of death died at a young age.  My grandmother was 94.  Both my parents are still alive (despite saying neither of them wished to reach the age they are currently).  Bitch is still alive in her late 70’s (all of us wish she wasn’t).  But K is gone, and has been for 20 years this year.  She was 52 when she died, but she was the only one who wanted to grow old… I was indoctrinated to believe that every human has the right to decide to end their own lives.  But I’ve also felt the loss, and had the training that ingrained in me the instinct to preserve the life of others (and maybe even my own)… so I hold those opposing truths at once. Sometimes it’s a mind-fuck.

pass almost 2 hours: The lady for the research study came and it took me an hour and a half to complete the survey.  Her computer was slow, but I also think I kinda spaced on some of it.  it was only supposed to take 15-30 minutes.  Clearly, I did not fit that time frame.  It was ok.  I thought it would ask more about any history, but most of the questions revolved around the last 12 months.  I remembered an incident I had not thought anything of because of where it happened and the circumstances surrounding it.  It was during a hospitalization last year. It happened on a locked unit, by another patient, and in front of staff.  It wasn’t anything major, he was having a psychotic episode (or so they said) and tried to grope me after another patient mentioned that I was a lesbian.  I pulled away. I was able to re-direct him in no uncertain terms, and staff told him to stay away from me (and really everyone).  Despite the fact that I was in there due to my PTSD reactions over past assaults, I was never spoken to about the incident, no one asked if I was ok.  I simply stayed out of the common areas for a while, and later had some really bad body memories that ended in an uncomfortable verbal incident with another staff member.  The thing is, you lose all rights when you are hospitalized for psych issues.  You lose your personhood. You become a thing without feelings, needs, or any control over anything.  They treat you like prisoners (though I tend to think prisoners may be better off in some respects).  If you don’t do what you are told, you are lectured and called “defiant”.  Things slide that would never slide outside those locked doors. People (other patients as well as staff) can treat you like crap, violate all sorts of boundaries, order you to do things, and you just have to accept it.  You have no rights, you have no decision-making capabilities, and anything you say is clearly an exaggeration due to your mental instability.  I was expected to have no real reaction to this man invading my space and trying to invade my body because he was a patient and so was I.  It’s counter-intuitive that a patient’s reactions and feelings are not taken into account on a psych unit, but it’s true way too often.  The minute you step foot onto that floor, you are no longer a functioning, reasonable human being who is simply having a difficult time, you are a crazy person that needs containment (even if you are there for depression or anxiety). With or without a psychotic diagnosis, you are treated as if you are actively psychotic.  At least, that is how the hospitals in this state are.  Up north, I felt a bit more human, a bit more sane.

Anyway, I digress… the survey took longer than I had expected, but I did get paid, so that’s good.


our beautiful brain – the altered book

very cool idea. I think we have to try this L…

Where I Stand

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What you will need:

– A Hard Cover Book to alter – if you don’t have one -Thrift Stores often have hard cover books for a dollar or less.

– Something to stick things down with – I use all types of things when gluing, Mod Podge, White Glue, Double Stick Adhesive, you can use whatever works for you.

– Mod Podge to seal your Masterpiece

– Acrylic paints, colored pencils, crayons, pastels, markers, and pens to doodle with and to add color

– Anything that you would like to use to collage – virtually almost anything can be used in a collage. My favorites are pictures from old books, vintage jewelry, and patterned textured paper.

How it works:

An altered book is an artist-made book recycled and modified into something new in appearance, and meaning. An altered book offers a long-term art-making process for healing. Altered books can be…

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