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MoonPool Coven. Stacey S. Recent posts. Therapy has focused on her current stresses marital conflict, problems with a blended family ; problems in the past raised by a domineering father, leaving home in her teens, abused in her first marriage ; and managing her psychiatric issues mood swings from mania to depression, obsessive-compulsive features, panic attacks, agoraphobia.
This was one of my first paintings. It shows a complex background of hectic reds, oranges, yellows and blues, upon which is a running figure in yellow — trying to get away, and never succeeding. The panic experience feels like a life-threatening emergency — yet, there is no danger apparent anywhere nearby. The crisis is entirely internal, and therefore, it is not possible to run away from it.
Being confronted with a depiction of her fear-based behavior during each session has encouraged Olivia to confront her fears and take action to improve her life. Progress has been slow, but steady. Edith lives with bipolar disorder and a dissociative disorder; she has been in recovery from alcohol and drug dependence for over 20 years. I asked her if she would like me to make a painting for her, and if so, what should it show. She wrote to me:. From the depths of the ocean; whirlpool sucking me down.
To the peaks of the mountains where only God stands with you. And back again.
That is where my disease takes me…. Crying out to a father with no ears. My tears are of blood, pouring from the cuts on my wrists. Messages carved into my flesh, silenced by simple pieces of clothing, hidden from all that might see. Edith commented one day that the wisteria was in bloom, and that her birthday was coming up — her mother made the connection every year.
No wonder it reminds me of my mother. I have placed these symbols into the painting. In the lower right are her suicide attempts. The thick black paint show the intense ones where she intended to die she has shot herself in the chest with a handgun, hung herself with a rope, taken a drug overdose several times, and has cut herself with a knife, a razor, glass shards, and other sharp objects. Above that are the times she carved on herself in a cry for help. Above that are the times she cut herself in an attempt to spill as much blood as possible, but without much risk of dying.
In the lower left is the whirlpool, sucking her down to Hell, the waves reflected in the Colorado mountains at the top of the picture where she once nearly died in a car wreck in the snow. The eyes peering at her are a part of her recurrent delusions that everyone is watching her, often accompanied by a pathological fear of birds. In the upper left, is the wisteria, choking her. And yet, from the depths of the whirlpool, she has arisen, going back to school and achieving high marks, staying sober and helping other in AA, and enjoying life represented by the fireworks display.
Edith makes a point of taking a look at the painting each time she is in the office and she has a photograph of it. She will at times comment on a symbol, or identify something new she sees there. Another time, she identified it as her mother. However, she is usually drawn to the images of suicide in the lower right. I have the feeling that by seeing the image, she is better able to verbalize what she feels.
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One day, she emailed this to me:. If I had had a gun today I fear that I would have used it on myself. The impulse, the vision of placing it to my head is still vivid… I thought about going to the police station and trying to get them to shoot me. I contemplated this for a while The last time I went to the police station it was not a pretty picture and I ended up with charges against me.
Hanging did not seem to excite me. If I had some antifreeze, I don't think that is the way to go either. Too slow.
Any way I don't have any unless I take the lower radiator hose off on my truck and get it from there. The garage is too big and has too many openings for air intake; if I chose to run my engine. I don't have enough motivation to do any thing destructive at the moment. Not even to cut myself. I will just lay alone, in silence until this passes or I die of natural causes. When Larry was an infant, his father shook him violently, leading to permanent brain damage and mental retardation.
He has had multiple hospitalizations for violent behavior, and was judged too impaired to attend school.
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He had never learned to read or write. A year later, his father died in a fiery one-car crash. A few months later, Larry began to deal with his mixed feelings of anger, loss, and despair about the injuries dealt to him by his father, and never having had a father or a mother who cared about him. I offered to make a painting for Larry, at a time when his impulsiveness was under good control, and he appeared to be engaging in psychotherapy.
I did not give him a choice of images or an opportunity to contribute to the content. When the painting was completed, I showed it to Larry and his aunt. In a recent session, he said:. How do I get rid of the sadness?
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People say I should love him because he was my father… but I have this anger and I hate him. How do I get rid of it? I hide it, but they can see the anger in me.
Why am I crying? Part of our therapy is working on acceptance of his mental disabilities and striving to maximize his abilities. A part of that is telling his story to others.
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Whenever Larry is in the office and I have a client who I believe will be supportive, I ask Larry to describe the painting to that person. The painting provides a prompt to tell the story and a visual validation of his history. Recently, he described the painting to another person, saying:. He tried to kill me. I was in my baby crib, and I was crying, and he got drunk and decided to hurt me. I do have problems, like I want to kill him. But I would kill him if he was alive. Benjy is an adult with pervasive developmental disorder and moderate mental retardation.
He has begun having sexual fantasies about the young boys he sees walking past the group home. That would be wrong.