Therapeutic smashing symbolic objects processing trauma. Creative storytelling. Bipolar. PTSD.



My name is Xanthe Wyse. Diagnosed bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder. Mood is elevated in this video, yet under control. I feel calm yet energised, consistent with doing processing for me which also can seem somewhere between hypomania and mania for me.

This video is creative story telling in metaphor processing my name change in 2015 after it became a very distressing trigger. I can say my former name now. Previously I had distressing flashbacks in fight/flight with panic attacks to hear, see or think my previous name.

Sometimes I find it therapeutic to destroy symbolic objects. This video involved preparation as I had prompts and lyrics stuck to the doors of the cupboard I had the camera in. Because while my brain gets very creative, I have trouble with my short term memory (hence forgot to put safety googles on at first until went to smash the glass).

The items smashed are symbolic with my old name. Also being smashed with sledgehammer is metaphor for what it feels like to have PTSD.

Even though I had prompts, I still improvised the video. I had only 1 take of recording it. I have short-term memory impairments with bipolar 1 disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Didn’t refer to the prompts much and ended up doing some things out of order.

Objects smashed included a laptop (with battery, harddrive etc already removed). I taped the screen first. I decided to also smash qualifications that I earned years ago (Bachelor of Science degree, Graduate Diploma of Teaching) as they are in my former name and useless to me now for a career. Instead, I teach in my own way.

I was listening to Renegade Fighter (Zed), Thunderstruck (AC/DC), Bring Me to Life (Evanescence). I couldn’t play them out loud so you could hear too because of copyright, but the words are from the songs. If you look up the lyrics to the songs and listen to them, will probably make more sense with the words I chose to paint.

I felt somewhat energised (hypomanic to manic), with purpose and emotionally calm. Was fun too. Trauma processing doesn’t need to all feel awful.

The messy artworks are some of what I did as DIY trauma processing also. They are also symbolism and metaphor, like 3D visual mind maps. Apart from the Renegade Fighter sign I made for this video, the other artworks have been in exhibitions. I have had 2 solo art as therapy exhibitions plus participated in 2 community art exhibitions with art from repurposed materials.

The artworks were called:
– Survival Flight (the song lyrics on stacked records – all from repurposed materials)
– EnZed (the plug with NZ with zips & a bracelet that survived sledgehammer, hammer, fire) from repurposed materials
– Purr Petscription – cat made from old medication packaging
– Speak – a painting on canvas that says ‘Speak’ with symbols
– CouRage – a bird-dragon made from repurposed materials including cut up art.

All props for this video re-used or re-purposed apart from an inexpensive canvas I bought to make a sign for Renegade Fighter and ended up turning it into a painting.

My other creative expression videos including destruction therapy had very little planning – was just assembling in a hyperarousal state symbolic objects and a few props and a list of a few songs. When fully manic with fully activated PTSD, I didn’t even film it anymore.

Creative expression is how I have processed most of the PTSD so that I can now say my former name. For this video, I wore the glasses and dress I wore in the psychiatric unit when my name change legally took place.

Source: Youtube