The gravity of trauma, images of dissociation

What’s happening in the USA right now is difficult to comprehend. When I tune into the news it’s full of painful realities. In addition to growing physical illness, and violent behavior by governments and criminals, there is also the danger of disassociation. Mental health is important and sometimes we forget what to look for.

Sketch

“You may psychologically disconnect from the present moment if something really bad happens to you. This is called peritraumatic dissociation. Experts believe this is a technique your mind uses to protect you from the full impact of the upsetting experience you had. If you’ve had disturbing experiences over and over, you may get severe forms of dissociation known as dissociative disorders. You may leave your normal consciousness, forget things, or form different identities within your mind.” – webmd

My old sketchbook cover made from mini canvas board paintings.

How do we cope and how will we heal? I believe creative work is essential. This can be writing in a private journal or just singing in the car. For me, looking back at the images I made got me curious about where the repeating characters were coming from. I want to share some of these images to illuminate what dissociation might feel like.

On the positive side, we might call dissociation as meditation and a healthy tool we can use to cope with trauma. On the negative side it’s a personality disorder that impacts a person’s ability to make healthy life choices or to see themselves fully.

My experience with trauma is unusual because it includes a natural disaster. At 8 years old I was trapped in a car, surrounded by a firestorm. The fear of this quick turn of events left me frozen. Looking back from where I am now, I can see how long it’s taken for me to feel safe in my body. We can’t control the events outside of us. We can be kind to ourselves and others who are experiencing horrific traumatic events by being kind and patient. It’s not always easy to be realistic about what your feeling and honor your need for a safe space.

Floating in a trance state…
Pencil on Paper