I’ve been spending time in the basement again. Don’t worry. That’s where I have my art station set up, so it’s okay. Not only do I spend my time down there “arting,” but I also spend the time thinking – sometimes too much.
It’s taken a long time to get here, but I’ve progressed to a place with my healing where I can look back at my life and not have an emotional flashback when I think of certain people or situations. For those who don’t know, an emotional flashback is when you experience the emotions that a person or situation evokes as if you were in the original moment. Even though that moment may be 30 years old, the emotions are raw and raging. They are quite common for people with PTSD. It wasn’t pretty getting to this milestone, but I’m glad I’m here. Even when an emotional flashback might flare up, I can usually quickly recognize it for what it is and deal with it rather than allow those old emotions to hijack my life for the next day, week, or month, and for that I am very thankful.
One of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome once my PTSD was identified was allowing myself to experience my emotions, to actually feel my emotions. At the time the only thing I knew for sure was inside me was anger – lots and lots of anger that had festered for roughly 40 years. The thought of letting that anger out was beyond terrifying for me. I was pretty sure that I’d get stuck in it and never be able to stop crying or screaming, or however it may have manifest as it came out. With as frightened as I was to unplug the dam that was holding my emotions back, I truly felt that the Lord was leading me to do so, so I took a step of faith and pulled the plug.
It took a few months, but the daily crying jags started to taper off. With that initial deluge out of the way, I felt like I could finally start letting out some anger, but I knew I needed to do it in a healthy way. Our son was seven at the time, so we happened to have quite a lot of Play-Doh on hand. He and I had some very intense sessions rolling and building with it, then, on his okay, I’d smash the tar out of it. I think he really thought it was funny how I was pummeling the Play-Doh. All I know is that it felt wonderful to finally get those emotions out.
So, back to my thinking in the basement. I was thinking that it would have been nice if I had received help when I was a child, if my complex PTSD had been identified in a much more timely manner, and if I had been taught how to deal with and trust my emotions. I also realized how creativity in its many forms helped me cope and survive. I have learned not to dwell on the past. Instead I try to look to the future and how God might use situations and experiences that I’ve had so that I can help others. He’s done it numerous times in the past, and I know He’s not finished yet, and that’s why I’m going to be heading my blog in a little bit of a different direction.
I truly have a heart for children (and the adults they become) who are in less than ideal situations, whether that be mistreatment at home or elsewhere, bullying, or living in a situation where the mental health needs of a family member are not being addressed. If one person in the family has mental health needs, the whole family has mental health needs.
I also have a heart for caregivers, especially those who are parents of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) children and are their child’s primary caregiver. These parents are at a very high risk of suffering from PTSD.
I’d like to start exploring ways that we can help our children be emotionally aware and healthy, trusting their feelings and intuition, and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is their right to say no to anyone who is asking them to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable. I’d like to start exploring the special needs of ASD parents. I’d also like to look at the importance of self-care, especially if you are a caregiver. In the midst of all of this, art and other forms of creativity will be discussed with ideas of how to use it to a number of ends.
I honestly don’t know how I would have survived if I hadn’t had creative outlets over the years. It is my hope that you will find encouragement and ideas to help yourself and those you love as we all continue our journeys to healthier emotions and relationships.
You can visit Smurgles at Etsy here.