Art as therapy to express the emotions of grief and trauma



I am incredibly vulnerable in this video because I may look ‘silly’ but I am sharing my healing journey. Healing can look messy. It can look ‘silly’ to others who don’t understand it.

I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. With my form of PTSD, my emotions get shut-down as they are so intense and triggering for me. Music helps me to express the emotions while buffering the pain.

I am painting listening to music. The song I am listening to is Innocent Eyes by Delta Goodrem. Moods and emotions come out in my paintings whether I shut down the emotions or not. But I felt incredibly emotional so I turned on the camera so I could see from a different perspective (for me internally, it is like an incredibly spiritual experience, even though I am not a religious person).

I often rock and dance to the music. May even since, although I held that back.

This painting has multiple layers and is mainly about expressing grief (but there is also bipolar euphoria in there – a ‘high’ which my brain would default to as an alternative to shutting down). But I was unable to process the trauma.

I paint in my bedroom and this is how often I paint – rocking to the music, dancing, in a trance-like state, sometimes I feel euphoric, sometimes I cry. I am crying during this piece, feeling incredibly moved by the music and expressing how I felt (lost innocence).

The grief is mainly at losing my son (who I am separated by distance). And metaphorically my childhood self to sexual abuse and my previous identity (I changed my name) via rape. The golden wings represent my new legal name, Xanthe. The butterfly represents transformation and I want to fly (and land safely, not crash as can happen with bipolar).

The butterfly is a gift from my son, from whom I have been separated from for years. I realised that I chose the same colours.

I cried a lot watching this back, but I have not filmed that as it is at my most vulnerable.

Source: Youtube