June 24, 2012


Something awesome happened this week... I got transferred to a different part of my department at work! Which means that I'll have a more interesting job AND, even better, I'll have a different boss!!! My current boss is a crazy pants who is triggering for me to be around because he's pretty much an arrogant, condescending asshole. The only bad part is that I wont be able to hang out with my awesome coworker all the time any more. But I'm still extremely excited and I'm feeling pretty good right now.

My therapist and I were talking about how feeling good is something I'm not really used to so it's kind of uncomfortable for me. For a lot of my life I've felt dead inside, numb, depressed, anxious, scared, overwhelmed, or out of control. I've had times of feeling good, but it's never been as consistent as it's been for the past few months. I still feel all of those negative feelings, but they're less intense, more tolerable and don't last as long. I guess anxiety is the one I feel the most still - thus today's drawing.

Teeth Clench

June 5, 2012
One of the most annoying physical manifestations of my anxiety is teeth clenching. It's the worst while I'm driving since I have so much time to think, especially while I'm going to work (a whole hour). If I'm really anxious I'll find myself lightly grinding my teeth and it will get to the point where my jaw starts to hurt from clenching so tightly and for so long. Sometimes I'll wake up doing it during the night. I even have bad dreams where my teeth are all breaking and falling out. I think that's actually a pretty common dream... but it's still gross. This picture shows how I feel like I'm cracking all my teeth by clenching so much.

June 17, 2012


One of my ongoing fears has been whether all of my memories are true or not. I'm scared that for some reason my brain created new memories. My reasoning is kind of convoluted.... I minimize what I know really happened to me so I feel like my feelings aren't valid - so I'm worried that my brain made up even more stuff so that I don't feel like I'm overreacting. Except that having these new memories obviously don't make me feel better so I'm not really sure why I think I would make them up. 

I spent some time thinking about why I question it so much, even after three different therapists have heard at least parts of my story and how I recalled it and have told me that it's likely that my story is true, even if I don't have all of the details exactly right. I realized that I spend so much energy on questioning the truth of my memories that I don't have to spend any time thinking about what it means if they're true. Sometimes it takes so much energy that I don't even have to let myself process the feelings associated with what I do know is true. So I'm sort of starting to believe that it could be a defense mechanism against accepting what happened to me. For now, I've decided to try to let it sit in my head as something that happened and try to accept it rather than constantly question and worry about it.

Yes or No?

May, 2012
The grey line through the middle of this drawing is the confusion about whether the memories are true or not. The top half of the picture, above the grey line, represents the feelings that are involved if the memories are true. The reds and oranges represent the pain, anger and hurt that I would have to start accepting. The browns and greens represent the humiliation, shame and guilt that I feel when I think about what happened. Below the grey line is how I would feel if I found out that my memories aren't true. I would feel like I was crazy, thus the jagged lines that go all over the place. I would also feel really horrible about myself for making something like that up, which is portrayed through the colors I used. Both sides are really scary so it's actually easier to stay in the middle in the grey confusion.

June 11, 2012


It has been about 9 months since I last cut and 16 weeks since I hurt myself in any sort of serious way!! I still get urges to do things pretty often, but somehow the time since I last did something helps me stop myself. Of course, I'm using other skills to stop myself. But mostly I just think about how I want to make that length of time even greater (I don't want to break my streak!!) and I think about how short of a time the relief from cutting lasts before the guilt and the shame kick in and make me feel even worse than I did before.

For the first time in a while, I actually feel like doing something with my future. I'm motivated to look for a better job and to go to grad school to do a social work degree. I enjoy research (my current job) but I want to do something that directly helps other people. I have been inspired by how the connections that I've experienced with my own therapists and with other mental health workers have helped me so much. I want to be able to give that to other people. I think it will mean facing some fear, but I believe that doing so will be worth it.

On a completely unrelated note, I made some cool little cards that I illustrated and then wrote my blog website on the back. The group leader asked if I wanted to share my blog so I decided to just write the site down on some pieces of paper and give one to whoever wanted one. But then I was having a hard time a few Saturdays ago, so I made it into an art project.

"Business" Cards

May 19, 2012

June 3, 2012


I went out of my normal range of style and drew some "self-portraits" that represent the inner me rather than the outer me. One of them is based on something we talked about in the POWER group that I mentioned in the last post.

May 6, 2012


When I started this, I wasn't even going to draw a face. I'm not a huge fan of drawing realistic things since I'm a bit of a perfectionist and it really bothers me when things don't turn out how they're supposed to look. That's why I'm not a big fan of this picture but I'm trying to think of it as more of an abstract picture that doesn't really need to look realistic... I chose to make the skin blue to represent the depression that is always at least kind of there. Outside of my head is the confusion and overwhelming feelings that go along with PTSD.

May 6, 2012
Traumatized Mind (Self-Portrait 2)

This picture was inspired by the POWER group. We were talking about how there are two sides of reactions to trauma. There is the avoidant side - the one that finds ways of not thinking about the trauma. It is the dissociative half that makes it possible to become numb and to avoid or detach from difficult emotions. This half makes it possible for the person to function. The other half is the hyper-responsive side. It is the side that is hypervigilant and experiences strong emotions. This half experiences traumatic memories in intrusive and overwhelming ways. Because of the strong emotions, it may make the person impulsive, creating conflicts or self-destructive behaviors. These two halves are represented in the picture by the blue face - the numb half - and the red, fiery hair - the reactive half. The hair flames out because it feels uncontrolled and hard to contain. I like this picture more as a self-portrait. I think it represents the two sides of PTSD well.