From surviving to thriving;
This artwork is a window to the inside of a girl (the artist) who experienced repeated childhood trauma that resulted in Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).
C-PTSD develops from experiencing repeated traumatic events where escape is difficult or impossible (World Health Organization). The symptoms I experienced were flashbacks of traumatic events, nightmares, insomnia, dissociation, paranoia, shame, emotion disregulation, avoidance and difficulty with relationships, to name a few. This made it extremely difficult to feel alive and function in society. I want to raise awareness of C-PTSD with this piece and provide hope to fellow survivors that healing can happen.
My C-PTSD healing journey began shortly after COVID-19 shut down the world. Just four months into the pandemic, I started therapy and began processing the most traumatic events I’d experienced as a child and teenager. After five long months of exposures to my trauma, grief began to emerge.
This piece demonstrates where I am in my healing of C-PTSD. The scarred, cracked, and damaged frame represents what happened to my brain and body — the trauma — from birth to age 17. As you look inward, the floral background fabric represents my innocent, soft, and playful side. The child in the center of the piece represents my inner child, or younger self, looking up at her adult self. The adult woman represents growth, healing, grief and beauty. She’s emerging from a dark place of suffering.
This piece represents my growth from C-PTSD survivor to thriver. The trauma does not go away. It cannot be erased, but healing is possible. Each day becomes a little easier than the last. In the darkness of C-PTSD, I felt worthless, like something was wrong with me, drowning with shame and guilt, and felt I didn’t deserve good things and didn’t deserve happiness or kindness. I’ve since learned there’s nothing wrong with me. Some really bad things happened to me and none of it was my fault. I’ve learned that I am worthy of experiencing joy and happiness in my life. I deserve love, kindness, and compassion.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ashley was born and raised in Columbia City, Indiana. After graduating from high school, she went to college to study psychology and obtained a Bachelor’s degree.
During college, Ashley began experiencing symptoms of C-PTSD but did not know it at the time. After 12 years of suffering, she was able to find help.
Ashley’s biggest accomplishment to date was taking steps to begin healing from C-PTSD. She began a therapy program, DBT-PTSD, which involved education around trauma, emotion regulation, and then exposures to her past trauma. She did this shortly after COVID was in full swing and while working a full time job. It was very difficult but she completed the program. Healing from childhood trauma is an ongoing process and she believes she’s taken the hardest steps to jumpstart that process.
This process helped her rediscover who she is, what she enjoys, and what she values. She discovered a love of knitting, sewing and fiber art. Her love for the earth is renewed and she enjoys learning about sustainability. She wants to know how to help the earth and not harm it. She learned to craft and make art with secondhand materials in an effort to be sustainable.
Ashley is currently living in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and two cats. She plans to get involved in sustainability efforts within the community and hopes to bring sustainable art practices and resources to those who want to heal with art, or just have fun.
© Ashley Meyers