Posts Tagged ‘nightmares’

 

I am an advocate if art as metaphor. I tend to pay more attention to the experience of creating art and the experience of sitting with a piece over time than the actual content of the piece. I also lean toward the abstract, finding the ambiguity and possibilities in a piece to be an invitation to learn more about myself or the observer.
This piece got me thinking about the process of uncovering the past and trauma work.

image

This piece began as a compilation from older collage. After months of staring at it, I decided it was time consider its possibilities. I was looking for something a little more peaceful with suggestions of water and land.

To do this I masked several strips to resemble trees on a shoreline or reflections in water. I decided it was easier to mask off the figures I wanted to appear in the foreground areas rather than attempt to create a background layer around vertical collage strips.

Masking is a process in which artists use tape or something similar to block of a part of a painting to protect an area from paint or bleeding. (Just as house painters do to protect trim).

After putting the tape in place I sloshed my paint over the bottom third of the collage in horizontal brush strokes. The painting looked messy but experience reminded me that once the masking was removed that would change.

Trauma and Unfinished Business

When undergoing stress or traumatic events coping can be like masking. In some cases, on a neurobiological level, the brain in a sense masks over an event as a form of protection. This neurological response can be a natural necessary mechanism that allows the individual some amount of protection for at time. It is effective in allowing someone in trouble or pain to survive and get through difficulty. As a result events may never be fully processed and can account for gaps in memory, loss of positive memories, feelings of being undone, or ill ease. Neurobiological responses to stress can become troublesome when the flight or fight responses become overactive. Troubles such as: addictions, depression, anxiety, phobias, rage, heart disease, PTSD and relationship problems are often associated with responses to stress.

The Art of the Unmasking, and Respect the Uncovering Process

wpid-collage-2014-07-05-17_27_36.jpg.jpeg

Timing is important when removing the masking (in this case masking tape) from the art piece:

Stripped to early and the paint would bleed and run.

Stripped to qu ickly or to late and the piece would be damaged.

My experience with this piece, being a collage, was even more tricky. It was built with layers and layers of stripped paper and I found it was extremely difficult to distinguish the masking from the collage strips. In some areas I had completely covered the masking tape with paint, so it was not only hard to find the tape but a messy process as well. In my hurry to see results I at times began picking at collage strips exposing raw canvas. More tools were necessary, using a knife, a wet sponge, feedback from family, and repairing and retouching the raw areas, I felt good about the results.

image

Before uncovering the past when pain or trauma is involved the following concerns are common:

What is ready to be uncovered?

Where do I start?

Can I trust that I will find something valuable underneath?

What happens when I uncover something raw?

Will I lose who I am if I start the process?

Where does it stop will there be any of me left when the process is through?

Why uncover what is covered, what can I do about it?

Why open an old wound, it will just bleed everywhere?

How long will it take?

Why It Matters

The masking serves a purpose, for a time. Over time, painful memories, unfinished business (shame, guilt, un-forgiveness) or trauma left unprocessed become troublesome. Maintaining the protective layers, rather than processing what lies beneath can be related to:

lost sleep
worry
avoidance
fragmented relationships
Nightmares
avoidance of activities
detachment from others
restricted emotions
angry outbursts
difficulty concentrate
lack of enjoyment in activities
 

What Can I Do?

 
Remember masking serves a purpose, and it may still be a necessary element of coping.
Recognize that care must be taken to respect masking.
Get help, find safety, remember there is hope.
Find support, support groups, agencies, books, organizations, supportive people, professionals
 
National Hotlines

 
If you or someone you know would like to explore this area of healing, consider professional help.  Affordable effective treatment is available.  
 
If you would like more information or a free consultation with a therapist please fill out the form below: Your information will be used solely for this purpose.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

contact:  Ramona Taylor registered Marriage and Family Therapist intern at Inland Integrated Wellness Center
Trauma

Trauma is the fallout from experiencing or witnessing a frightening event, such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse; accidents; natural disasters or deaths. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) results from severe or multiple traumas that have never been resolved and continue to have an ongoing and devastating impact upon one’s life. Not all traumatic experiences cause PTSD, and what may cause trauma and/or PTSD for one person may have little noticable effect upon another.

A trauma victim may experience flashbacks and dreams of the event, hyper-vigilance, depression, sleeping difficulties, and problems with relationships. Alternately, the event may cause the victim to numb-out emotionally.  Fear, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt, addictions, and self harm may also be reactions to trauma.  These reactions may occur at the time of the trauma or even years later. These reactions can persist and affect a person for months, even years.   Often people do not see a connection between the traumatic event and their current relational,  professional, school, work, personal, or family problems

How Do I Know If I Have or Someone I Know Has PTSD

The experience of PTSD is different for everyone. Typical symptoms of PTSD may include feeling detached or emotionally numb, as well as, nightmares, severe anxiety, or flashbacks. Sometimes we notice the symptoms in ourselves and, sometimes, it’s the ones close to us who notice.
Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
• Experienced a life-threatening or traumatizing event
• Recurrent thoughts about the trauma
• Nightmares related to the trauma
• Flashbacks
• Being triggered by reminders of the trauma
• Being triggered by anything associated with the trauma
• Avoiding thoughts, feelings, places, related to the trauma
• Not remembering part of or all of the trauma
• Feeling number and/or having diminished interest in life
• Trouble sleeping
• Difficulty with concentration
• Getting startled easily
• Hypervigilance (anxiously aware of your surroundings)
• Irritability or outbursts of anger
• Children may act out the trauma in play
Trauma/Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Treatment

Trauma is nothing anyone wants to go through. Whether its a car accident, mugging, physical assault, war, rape, sexual abuse, or other forms of trauma, it all can cause post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD leaves one feeling fearful, angry, defective, and sometimes hopeless about life. After trauma we often feel vulnerable and can lose trust in humanity and the world.

contact:  Ramona Taylor registered Marriage and Family Therapist intern at Inland Integrated Wellness Center

Therapy for PTSD starts with creating a safe place for you to talk about your struggle and eventually work on the trauma. Therapists understand that the last thing that most people who have been through a trauma want to do is talk about it, so most therapists wait until you feel comfortable and ready. Unfortunately, the way to recover from trauma is to work through it and process it.  The avoidance of thinking of or talking about the trauma is what keeps the PTSD alive.

Fortunately there are effective treatments for PTSD.   Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing therapy (EMDR), which are A rated treatments by the American Psychological Assocation for PTSD can all help you get  life back and stop being tormented by your trauma.

• For an appointment or free phone consultation:  Contact Ramona Taylor  @ ramonat@inlandwellnesscenter.com or  call toll free at (888) 634-6999 ext 16