Trigger Warning: Birth Trauma, sexual assault
There are finally some flowers blooming in my life, but looking back to the summer of 2019, my mental health garden was shriveled and dying. I had suffered through a tremendously difficult pregnancy with my son. I was sick constantly. I was dealing with awful health issues. And more than anything, my mental health had tanked.
Maybe it was intuition. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but I spent my entire pregnancy terrified I was going to die in birth. And to my horror, I almost did.
Almost dying while simultaneously vividly remembering… yet also not being able to piece it all together or even recall my son’s entry to this world, near ruined me. I felt as if my body had failed both of us, and the guilt and shame was eating me alive. I couldn’t process the trauma properly, and as a survivor of past assault, those awful memories resurfaced. I didn’t know that trauma informs trauma. And the stacking effect of all of the trauma rendered me almost completely incapable of functioning. Postpartum depression, anxiety and rage bulldozed my life.
Moms Mental Health Initiative was my saving grace.
I was connected to a psychiatrist, and I was connected to a recommended therapist, someone who just happened to be an art therapist. I was so closed off, and I remember speaking to the therapist on the phone briefly as an introduction telling her I really wasn’t sure it was for me. I was a perfectionist who had always hated doing art because it was never good enough to me. I couldn’t see how any healing would come from creating things I was just going to hate myself for.
But how mistaken I was.
My therapist, who is still my therapist, cared for me in a way that saved my life. She was gentle, caring, kind, and she was so trauma-informed, that slowly, she began leading me out of the darkest place of my life.
We started creating art. I started painting for the first time in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I was hesitant, and internally I felt like I kicked and screamed the whole way, but I was doing it.
We started untangling the trauma piece by piece, paint stroke by paint stroke. While I struggled tremendously for the first year postpartum, I was slowly healing.
And then the pandemic hit, and I entered an unexpected pregnancy, which was completely traumatic in my own way. And though we continued working virtually through the pandemic, my mental health wavered and buckled again. And for a while, my creativity sputtered out. I didn’t want to create art in a world that felt so dark. I just couldn’t do it.
However, eventually, the pandemic began lifting, and I returned to therapy in person. I started processing my traumatic upbringing, my past sexual assaults, both of my births and again, my therapist and the art we did saved my life. (I should mention that I also depended tremendously on the help of my fantastic psychiatrist, thanks to MMHI)
Up until two months ago, I refused to consider myself an artist; I still believed that what I was doing was supposed to be hidden and private. And then somehow I had an awakening. All this work that I was doing… I was an artist. I am an artist.
I decided I didn’t want it to be a secret anymore. I wanted to be seen. To be heard. To share my story. To allow myself to be vulnerable and open, and in turn, maybe help someone else in the process. I reached out to a connection to throw the idea out that I was ready to show my work, and did they have any ideas? To my complete surprise, I was offered the chance to have my artwork on display and for sale for the entire month of December.
So, I currently have about 50 pieces of my artwork, so many of them representative of the flowers finally blooming in my mind, hanging at the Kenosha Creative Space. It’s so surreal. Little me is SO proud of myself. For taking a chance. For putting myself out there. For healing even when it felt impossible, and I couldn’t see any light. All because Moms Mental Health Initiative was there when I was desperate.
We’ll be celebrating with a closing night party on December 29th, from 4:30 to 8:30 at Kenosha Creative Space. I would love nothing more than to share this with all of you. There is light. There is possibility. And you are strong enough to get there. Let’s go on this journey together.