Using Creativity To Battle PTSD

The following is a guest post from Michele Rosenthal’s wonderful blog HealMyPTSD (see links)

Interview with Lille Diane, an artist:

How has creative expression helped you on your healing PTSD journey?PTSD, Survivors Speak, Art Therapy

I’m still working to make sense of PTSD, my body’s connection to it, and how to make peace with what has happened to me. Art has given me an opportunity to see a positive outcome from a negative experience. I can look at a photo I took or a painting I did as a visual journey of where I’ve been, and it becomes an even bigger map pointing to how high I can fly. I’ve found a method of doodling that is meditative when I do it. This type of drawing lets me hold my breath in wonder as to what the drawing will turn out like if I just let my pen go wild rather than holding my breath when my thoughts take me on a wild ride. Art is good medicine for a mind that’s been through trauma. I’m unearthing some fabulous colors buried in the layers of pain that may never have been set free had I not started painting.

What’s the single biggest benefit you’ve discovered from using art to heal?

Art is a safe place to let the anger, the fears, the frustrations and the ‘what-if’s’ out as well as the joyful moments. No one needs to see it. It’s not a pass or fail test. It’s a way of expressing how I feel. It’s freedom. And sometimes I end up with a masterpiece from the heart that’s rewarding to hang on my wall or someone else’s.

What tip(s) would you give someone wanting to begin using art as an element in his/her own healing?

Start simple. Art is like anything else. The more you do it the better your skills will become. I hear people say all the time, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” But I disagree. Everyone can express themselves whether it’s with a pen, a hammer and nails, a welding torch, some twigs and twine, a camera, a bucket of wall paint, some newspaper, or a pair of scissors and some glue. Besides this isn’t about perfection—it’s about letting go and expressing what you may not be able to find the exact words for otherwise.

Have you ever watched children when given construction paper and scissors? No one tells children they aren’t creative when they’re in kindergarten. Art is integrated into their education. Children naturally settle into a peaceful groove when they’re handed some crayons and paper. Ever notice that’s what they give kids in restaurants to keep them occupied while they wait for their food?  It keeps them from becoming frustrated in situations that may be hard for them to stay calm in. But somehow when we “grow-up” art is suddenly a childish thing we no longer need. That’s a tragedy.

A good starting place may be making a journal/art book. They’re like diaries with your words, thoughts, sketches or collages of pretty pictures you’ve cut out of magazines. Google journal making on youtube for ideas and free tips.  You can purchase a small sketch book or blank journal at Staples or Borders.

‘Wreck This Journal’, by Keri Smith, is a book that teaches you to journal whether or not you’re an artist. Keri leads you on a creative journey that shows you how to fill the pages in amazingly simple ways that opens up avenues of self expression, and self awareness.

Kelly Rae Roberts has an easy to follow creative book called, Taking Flight: Inspiration and Techniques To Give Your Creativity Wings.

Suzi Blu, teaches online art classes that are fun, inexpensive, and helps someone who has never drawn before learn how to draw a face or a folk style portrait. She also shows you how to work in a journal. Suzi’s free spirited, easy going teaching style is refreshing, and addicting… in a good way.

You can also look for classes offered at local recreational centers for art classes.

Part 1

PTSD, Survivors SpeakLille Diane is an artist, musician and author. After a bad auto accident, Lille  inadvertently picked up a hitchhiker named PTSD. It turned her into a wreck [pun intended] as far as being comfortable in an automobile since then. She’s using art, photography, writing and music as her mental medication to heal her fears. If all else fails, she says she can always get her cat driving lessons. That ought to fix it. Film at 11:00

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