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Dr. D and I discussed the possibility of me painting almost daily at set times. This would allow me to know ahead of time what to expect. I need set times for things as well as lists to feel more control over my environment and situation. Setting a specific time to paint and doing it has helped me to relax more while painting. There are no expectations. No pressure to produce view worthy materials. The goal is to create and to risk. At first I was concerned about wasting paper and paint but truthfully, I have plenty of both so paint I will.

I've learned a few things over the years about size and media for my personal use. If I use paper that is too big then the project is overwhelming and may not be completed. Paper that is 8 x 10 is usually undaunting, however, there are times I'm so closed up that I need 5 x 9. These sizes also mean if I'm confined to the bed I can still paint with relative ease.

I know for a fact that I'm a paper artist. I love paper, especially textured papers. Oh they just do something to me. Pencil, pen, brushes and other tools are musical as they hit different textured paper. I absolutely love it.

I've been asked if I paint on canvas and create larger art but the answer is no, I usually don't. I'm not comfortable with creating larger art. There's been so much discussion on this subject but the bottom line is this: I am an artist who creates smaller works on paper. Staying within these bounds means I stay true to my craft. It allows me to freely paint instead of attempting to become something I'm not. When I allow myself to paint at a size comfortable for me, I am able to express myself and risk creatively.

Be More by Sundrip

"Be More" is a 7 x 10 watercolor and ink piece created in a wire bound Canson notebook. The art therapy piece expresses the need to bring my emotions to a more balanced view.

I see myself in such a negative light and demand a lot of myself. I'd like to lose the idea that there's something fundamentally wrong with me and get closer to the balanced view that I'm just a flawed human being like everyone else.

After creating the piece free style, with no expectations, I looked at it and began to write what it brought up. The first thing that came to mind is that it's disorganized and very raw. This didn't feel negative to say. It seemed to reflect how I've been feeling lately, disorganized and like I'm just flailing about like a fish out of water. I noticed that the two people dominate the picture. They hold hands and share a small red flower. Though both have a missing foot, one has her mouth open and the other is closed.

As I began writing words like disorganized, fearful, disliked, desperation and paranoid, it occurred to me that I should write how I'd like to be and ways that I am at times. The other side of the paper includes words like risk, flexible, fluid, acceptance and giving. Right between the two figures and by their feet is the word 'integrate'. This reflects my desire to be more harmonious with reality. Reality is that I'm not all bad or all good. Things are no so black and white with me.

Be More detail 1

Of all the words that were written, one sticks out the most. It is the only word that appears in all capital letters and that is the word BURDEN. I ...feel...like...a..burden to others! It'll be quite the struggle to get that emotion in check.

It felt really good to complete this art therapy piece. I like free style painting. I like adding converse words/ideas that turn the piece into a learning and mindful experience.

Faith

2

Content : Suicide discussion. Physical updates. Flashbacks of abuse. Abuse.

The nurse will be here tomorrow. I've fallen 3x in a week so things are a bit messy right now.

I've been told I pushed too hard, tried to do too much.

I'll see Dr D tomorrow as well. He is concerned about what he calls hallucinations and what I refer to as body memories. This is the second time he's asked if I'm suicidal and the second time I've told him no. The more suicides I hear about the further away from a possibility it is for me. George Foreman's daughter and 3 survivors of school shootings recently took their lives! It hurts and reminds me of my brother's suicide. How could I make the decision to kill myself, knowing what I now know? Years ago it was an option but not now. Not now.

During flashbacks I smell blood and urine. I can feel her hitting me. I can smell her parfume. My stomach cramps and I vomit.

I'm feeling a bit down right now. A little lonely, too.

I should mention, I like my new CNA a lot. She's on time, works and drinks tea with me in the morning. The funny thing is, there are a few teas that are just for me. I don't share them. I finally got tea in the mail from Uganda. It's awesome and just mine. I have Japanese Orchid tea that is exclusive as well. Most teas I'll readily share but some are saved just for me.

Always serve tea.

Jordan

1

Content - Extreme physical abuse, siblings abused, emotional abuse

We talked about the dream I had where my mother beat my sister without mercy. It was brutal. She did so in a separate room from me, my cousin and 2 aunts. It was so bad and went on so long that I risked myself by knocking on the door to interrupt it. It worked and she stopped.

After the mother and sister emerged the cousin told my mother that I had made negative comments about her. I denied it. The mother took me in the room behind closed doors where she questioned me under threat. I swore I didn't say it. She believed me and let me go unharmed.

When we left the room the cousin admitted she lied. Everyone flipped out and yelled at her, why, why, why? She said that what my mother did to my sister was wrong but that my sister shouldn't have to do it alone. She said if I was beaten too then there would be an equalizing. My sister and I would be on even ground, sharing an experience. She said that it wouldn't be that one sibling witnessed the humiliation of another but that both would know and so one wouldn't be in a higher position than the other.

The dream was interesting to say the least because it touched on how it feels to watch a sibling abused and what it feels like to have your abuse witnessed. Someone saw the emotional and physical impact it had and that in itself is abuse and traumatic, to have someone see you like that. It also touched on the trauma of watching the horror show helplessly.

In the dream we were all at the mercy of the mother. The answer to making sure my sister and I were emotionally connected was for me to be beaten. Never did anyone step in and say, "You can't beat them this way" or "What you're doing is wrong and we aren't going to allow it." No, the answer was to beat me so that neither one of us was alone. One would be alone in that she watched the abuse. The other alone in that she experienced the abuse.

Dr. D and I discussed how my mother rarely went off the rails and just started beating us. She was more focused. She beat the palms of our hands, our feet with a dowel rod quite often. She beat our lips with a wide tooth comb. Rarely did she slap us in the face. When beating us with the dowel rod while laying down it was focused on our back area: legs, butt, back. There were times we got punched in the face but it was rare. My mother's rage was focused on areas of high pain, with an item she said she used because it hurt.

Robert spoke to Dr. D today. I can't say it was a good session at all. Robert is still very protective of us after the suicide issues with the CNA. Dr. D asked why we didn't report the CNA sooner than we did. He then said, "You usually protect yourselves so well." Robert reminded him that the CNA his the 'mother cord' with her suicide threats. We felt responsible! We felt guilty! We felt small and like we were in fight or flight. When it got bad it got bad quickly and we were in fight or flight. Why didn't I tell? Well dang it.....(sigh) what kind of question is that? Listen, I have mother issues and this girl played right into them. I'd even look her in the face each morning to see what kind of mood she was in to see what type of day we would have, just like my mother. If she cried then I cried with her. If she (the CNA and my mother) wanted to laugh then we laughed. I did exactly what I would have done had I been in the presence of my mother because I still have mother issues. She's the only person in the world who could make my knees shake. I told on the CNA when I could, period!!!!!!!!!!!

Dr. D and I talked about hallucinations recently. I've been smelling blood and urine even though its not there. There's been a bit of depersonalization as well.

You know what? I'm not strong enough. I'm just one person and I've been through a lot lately. I've had so little time to recharge from the hospitalization, the amputation and the new life I'm leading. There's been so little time to get firmly rooted, then for the whole suicide thing to pop up and her behavior to mimic that of my mother is just too much. So yeah, things are messed up right now. My head is messed up right now.

Robert and Jordan

4

Content: Anxiety. No self harm. Fill in CNA's friend committed suicide. Regular CNA troubles.

The day has been mostly good but with a lot of anxiety. We seemed to manage it better though. There was an instance when we wanted to cut but Michelle said rather quietly, "May I have some lavender?" We promptly put it in our nose and on our feet to help relax us immediately. I was so pleased she asked for assistance.

Here's some of her artwork throughout the entry.

My regular CNA is on holiday vacation which means I've had a fill in for two days. The first day went fine but today the fill in CNA checked her Facebook status and found out one of her friends killed himself. She lost it right here so I held her while she cried. She left in tears an hour after arriving. I can only shake my head at the amount of drama brought in this house by CNA's. It's not her fault her friend killed himself but dang, I should not hold my CNA like a child while she weeps, but I did.

Tomorrow my regular CNA returns and she's going to be rather upset with me because I spoke to her supervisor about some of the things she's been saying to me that are totally out of line. I talked to her about being on time and she told me if I didn't like her showing up late I could get someone else. (Sigh) I told her she was 20 min late to her shift and it mattered especially since she doesn't stay to make up that time. She said, I was here at 9 am but I stayed in the car to eat my breakfast. (Sigh)

The other day she told me my meal smelled bad. She said, "This stinks!" Then when she was putting Miracle Whip on my sandwich she told me her family doesn't eat Miracle Whip and that it "stinks!" (Sigh) I talked to her supervisor. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring but that's okay because today isn't over and today is half way decent. Despite holding a sobbing, pregnant, fill-in CNA whose friend killed himself, despite interrupted sleep, I've had a decent day. I think the best thing is knowing that Michelle is aware that she can ask for help when she needs it.

I've got enough lavender to last until the end of the month, then I'll hit up Amazon for a large bottle of it.

I wonder why CBD oil doesn't work for my anxiety? I've switched from Medical Marijuana (MMJ) to CBD oil and CBD isolate but they do nothing, zero, zip, for anxiety. I don't think the MMJ did much for my anxiety either. It helped with pain but it didn't do much for Michelle.

I've sipped tea, let Michelle paint and have done some relaxation techniques to manage the symptoms. Right now the anxiety is pretty high so I'm going to get off here and put some lavender in my nose and on my feet. Time to sip some tea and maybe do a little reading. I've still got a few hours left in this day and I plan to survive them well. I think I'll make a sandwich, a large, stinky sandwich.

Jordan

1

I've been struggling so much with anxiety associated with flashbacks and memories. Lately my dreams have been horrible. Everything from rape to my sister being stabbed violently over and over again. There have been medical flashbacks, too, where I wake and think I'm in the hospital still.

Last Wednesday there was self harm, which my therapist is aware of. He never freaks out about it. As a matter of fact he shows so little concern it's not even funny. He asked me no questions about if I'm safe or not. He just asked what was going on inside that was so big that I began to self harm. I can't remember how he phrased it but we moved on from it rather quickly.

Dr. D says that whatever Michelle remembers is what's causing her anxiety and the flashbacks. So here I am awake right now, nervous, rocking, full of despair. I don't know what to do with her or for her but evidently she and Dr. D are going to work on some things.

I'm not suicidal at all. It's just that the anxiety and despair get so heavy I can't tolerate it and self harm comes to mind.

It's nearly midnight and I'm still awake. I should sleep but I just found out my grandmother is dead. I wrote a very angry post that I feel half way bad about and half way like I should just leave it up.....maybe set it to private or something like that cause it isn't in the least bit Christian saying she should be dead. I don't know........ I think it figures that I wasn't contacted about it. I wasn't contacted about my brother's death either. They just let me find out on the net just like her and everyone else who has died. Let me look it up. Forget it. It's too late to think about that right now.

I don't want to sleep, not with the dreams I've been having.

I have a Schizophrenic neighbor who isn't helping matters much. He keeps screaming all day and night. They're in the very sad process of evicting him. I hate that but I need a break, just a few hours without hearing him scream, "F**k you. F**k you. I'm gonna f**king kill you." This is what I've been listening to for days on end and I'm certain it's now affecting me. He bangs on the walls, sounds like he's dropping a bowling ball on the floor and just keeps on screaming his head off. Then he turns his music on really, really loud but he can be heard screaming even over the music. I want it to stop. I want him to feel better. I feel very bad for his situation but man do I need a rest from the screaming.....as does he. He's been evicted. I wonder where he'll go. I hope wherever it is they make sure he's taking his medication cause on his own he's in terrible shape.....as are his neighbors.

1

Thirteen years I walked past my therapist's Christmas Cactus and never thought to ask for a start until now. 

The three spider plant starts from the surgeon are growing like weeds. They were so tiny when I got them.

I snagged a start from the hospital's bed of pathos. It's being rooted in the fish tank with the Betta fish I had when I was in the nursing home. 

I wish all these plants could go in one planter but they have different requirements.

Spider plant, Christmas Cactus, Pathos, Dumbcane, large Peace Lilly. These are my memory plants. 

Why on earth would I wish to remember one of the worst things I've ever been through? Because it has changed who I am. It's changed me for the better and the worse, with the hope of good coming out on top.

Today in therapy we talked about how I have a fear that I'm going to just drop dead. That my health isn't reliable and there's no sense in putting forth effort when I may throw a blood clot and die. I hope such morbid fears will subside in time. I'm counting on it. I'm counting on growing right along beside the green leaves that fill my apartment. 

.........A visitor asked if I'm trying to make a paradise out of my home. The answer is yes. 

Jordan

3

Not Strong Enough fma

Today is one of those days where I feel the weight of what happened in the hospital. I feel shocked, stunned, grieved. I can only describe it as a train wreck where I can still hear the sound of metal crumbling around me. What I feel today must be what I was feeling when I drew and painted in this image with the caption: There's more to do. I'm not strong enough.

We went over the image in therapy and talked about the butterflies included and how they symbolize transformation. Also significant is the green under the eyes which I used to stand for goals of growth and keeping focused on them. Despite that focus there's dissociation (figures in the tree) to fight as well as feelings of trauma and grief symbolized by the hanging figure between the eyes. Hanging on is my main focus. It's what's between my eyes. No matter what, just hang on. That's what I think the girl in the middle is doing. 

I look at the color of the dress of the girl hanging on and realize it 'should be' a shade of red, however, it is orange paint that drips into red. In my art therapy pieces, orange symbolizes ambiguity, mixed emotions, indecision. Then of course there's the spiral in the throat. I started that about a year ago when it became very difficult for me to verbalize my feelings. As if through a hole in my neck, the words escaped me.

Recently I've felt like an idiot trying to talk, so I just didn't. I didn't email or write on this blog for a number of days (never a good thing for me). I just got quiet. Today I feel better equipped to put two words together but I also feel worn thin by it all. 

Tomorrow is another much needed therapy session. Like every Monday, it's over the phone. However, I'll be going in to his office every other Friday to see him. In the Friday sessions, Michelle will get dedicated time where she'll talk about her own art and issues. The goal is for her to do some healing, too.

Faith

1

Finding artwork created by alter personalities used to happen quite a bit. I thought it was strictly a thing of the past but I guess I was wrong. It would seem that I still find art I don't know a thing about. I was quite shocked to see the piece called My Sister in the middle of the entry Half of Us and All.  That piece is by Michelle and I have no recollection of it. I was relieved to see it though because I thought the only thing I am no capable of is abstract images in black and white. I thought I was all arted out or something. So when I saw her drawing and several of Robert's drawings, I was quite pleased that we've still got some art images in us to put on paper. I'm not going to press it though. If all I can do is put ink on paper from corner to corner like in this entry then so be it. If other times I paint or draw something more 'substantial' then that's fine, too.

black white african fma Sundrip

Dr. D and I talked about my creative goals for next year. My goal is simple which means its going to be difficult. My goal is to have some fun, just let it be. That's what I intend to do. I'm not going to force myself to create anything. I'm not going to nag myself or get down on myself. I create what I create. I paint what I paint. 

I am also in a newer financial situation. For the first time in about ten years its not imperative that I sell art each month. My rent is affordable now.

Though I no longer get government assistance with food, I am at least able to budget the same amount I used to get so that my food purchases don't need to change just because the money source did. Well, I shouldn't say I don't get foodstamps any longer. I get $15.00 each month for food from the government. I look at that number and just laugh. How did they come to that amount? I knew with rent so low I'd lose quite a few foodstamps but $15 is insulting. Even so, things are much easier now, financially speaking. Things got bad for a minute there. 

Dr. D wanted to know if the subject matter of my art will change with stresses lower and with my goal of fun in mind. No. I doubt it. My art changes when something emotional happens in my life. The subject of my art changes when an alter paints instead of me or that alter is in therapy. Michelle (age 12) is taking some of the time for her stuff our in office sessions. Robert used to do that but hasn't since we got sick last time. He's sort of in a managerial position inside and is doing his very best to keep us all on the same page with things running smoothly. He's busy keeping us sane, taking meds and dealing with CNA stuff. I'm happy to see he's sketching and painting in the book. I'll scan that next week. For now I just have black and white ink work which is art worked on by several of us. I have no intention of adding color. 

This goal of creative fun is of interest to me because it comes at the tail end the honeymoon of my post hospitalization. I can tell I'm still very shocked and traumatized by what happened so it interests me that I would say I just want to have some fun. I don't want to worry about producing something worthy of showing on the blog. I want the weight of my own criticism and expectations to no longer crush my creative process and enjoyment. I want to go with the flow more. I don't want to see this as my job. Yeah, it is my job. I paint and sell my artwork and dolls. This is my employment, but never should I burden myself or load myself with unreachable expectations. So, lets see what stress I can throw off in 2019. Lets see if I can allow myself to have some creative fun. 

Because my plate is full and I'm a bit overwhelmed with life, I've only set the one creative goal for 2019. I usually do three but not for the coming year. 

Jordan

5

Half of Us

In therapy we talked about the unfinished image "Both of Us", drawn by Robert over a two day period. We spent a lot of time on it because it drew us into a discussion about being co-conscious and more integrated.  My emotions are more integrated and more identifiable.

I showed him 4 drawings total. Three of the drawings were done by Robert. When Robert draws himself in work, it is important to him for Dr. D to see the image of Robert. He doesn't want to be overlooked or looked through. To be ignored and overlooked is painful for anyone. 

We talked about the colors and why I use certain colors. We talked about how different it is that Robert used yellow on the face in his drawing. We don't do yellow at all. Hate yellow. Of course he asked why and I just told him. My mother's mattress had yellow flowers on it. There were too many times I had my face buried in that yellow and that's all I could see. I hate that color to touch me now. I use it in art to mean negative things. For it to touch his face tells me there's some sort of guilt or maybe flashbacks that he is dealing with. Yellow in art is explained on my art therapy page. It's also interesting that the pants worn by the girl in the upper left corner is wearing yellow pants. This just doesn't happen, not even in art. 

My Sister by Michelle

The image to the side was drawn by Michelle in pencil. Dr. D noted that the people are in typical fashion from what I used to draw.  He says the people have a look of despair and trauma on their faces. It's funny, I don't set out to make my images look this way. I just start drawing what I feel. I think its the same for others inside. Everyone just draws what they feel. The painting or coloring in is according to our color chart that we've had for who knows how long. 

We discussed how it feels to have a 12 year old alter around who doesn't want to be called anything but her own name and doesn't want to be mistaken for Faith.

Dr. D called Michelle the last hold out, then laughed. Yeah. Everyone else is on board with knowing and understanding what it means to have DID. We know how we got here and why we have DID but this one kid ain't havin' it. She can't accept that she is not separate. She hasn't yet learned that what she does affects the rest of us and what we do affects her. We're a system..... We take care of each other.

She wants her own sketchbook but we won't let her do it. She draws and paints in the community book just like everyone else. 

There's guilt associated with 'causing' us to feel anxious whenever she's around. Her anxiety is always very, very high.  

Speaking of high, Dr. D and I discussed differences in artwork when I'm high. He asked if there's a difference in noise level in my head when I'm high. Yes. I can hear the alter personalities clearer so it feels louder at times with pot, but there's also a calm that covers us all. It works out well if I eat it. I had it in hot chocolate the other day. Turns out that homemade honey cake with weed is pretty good. That one was new for me.

Last but not least, Michelle got her snails in the mail today. How totally cool is that! All the way from Greece! She keeps saying, I would have been happy even if they'd been from across the street but no one had snails that they were selling locally.  I think it's totally cool that they're from Greece. It just sort of happened that way and I'm glad it did.

Jordan 

Girl Inside

Art by: Faith Magdalene Austin
Art Title: Girl Inside
Media: Watercolor and Acrylic on 98 lb paper
Style: Raw, African Americana, Folk Art, Black Art
Finish: Sealed, signed,

Here's a close up look at this very emotional piece of a girl with someone else inside.

SUNDRIP - Art for Life
www.sundrip.etsy.com

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