Colored Pencil Student Magazine Summer Issue

How writing and art has helped heal my recent bout of PTSD

It continues to amaze me how much talent is out there in this great big world and how artists’ use the gifts God gave them to express their feelings through a pencil and sheet of paper.

Suddenly, a ton of scribbles becomes a masterpiece right before the artist’s eyes. It is an amazing feeling when it all comes together and you can share it with others. I know whenever I “nail” a drawing, I feel like I am tracing the hand of God.

I like to think of my writing in the same vein.  As writers we combine words to paint a picture for the people who read our written artwork. Each article I complete is a gem to me – timeless, unique and beautiful.

I have missed blogging and sharing with this community.

I haven’t been writing lately because this Winter and Spring I dealt with a strong bout of PTSD brought on by seeing pictures of ISIS burning the Jordanian man alive. Suddenly, images from my dysfunctional childhood and a 20-year military career that took me to Iraq twice just started crashing over me in waves.

I have struggled with depressive episodes for most of my life, so this just made it worse. I felt like the dude in the second Transformer movie, when he touched the piece of the rock and started seeing writing projected on all the walls around him. My eyes just kept flashing all these horrific images on repeat and wouldn’t stop. Consequently, I fell off my meds schedule and that made it worse.

Here is a little background on what I have been going through. In 2013, one month after I got my bachelor’s from Regent University, I checked myself into a mental institution — exhausted from my own mind, constant worrying and suicidal ideation.

I had thought it would be the happiest time of my life. It wasn’t. Right after graduation, I hadn’t slept for three or more days straight. After a successful 20 year career in the military, I was totally at a loss why I couldn’t get it together and deeply ashamed. It took me over a year to recover and then bam it happened again this February. I was so lost…

It wasn’t pretty but through my faith in our mighty creator, the Holy Spirit by my side, the pure love of Jesus, and the help of my family I sought help and received the proper diagnosis of PTSD….FINALLY!

I never considered I had PTSD, even though family and friends kept telling me I displayed symptoms since I came back from Iraq the first time. The VA only diagnosed me with depression from my family of origin, so I never considered anything else.

At the time I retired in 2009, military professionals still weren’t proficient in dealing with PTSD…unless the person witnessed gross carnage and death. I didn’t see that with my own eyes, but I was around death and saluted several fallen soldiers in my deployed unit. As a journalist, I don’t really need to see something to emphathize with people and I tend to take on feelings from people around me. So I internalized all my fears from operating in a war-zone twice and didn’t know how to deal with them.

During the time I was flashing back, I was fortunate to begin working for Sally Robertson, the editor of Colored Pencil Magazine via computer correspondence. While I was figuring out how to heal and deal with the VA, she was very patient and let me stick my toes in the water as the associate editor of Colored Pencil Student Magazine.

I was deeply afraid of being rejected for suffering with depression, anxiety and PTSD because it can effect your work life. But, she was kind and understanding, which allowed me to build up my self-esteem once again and get back to my old work self. I still have a little way to go but I will no longer let self-doubt continue to seep in and poison my mind against myself.

So I thank Sally and the other artists I worked with in this issue. I am sure they had no idea of the impact they were having on my life.

In the end I have learned, no anxiety pill, recovery center, person, place or thing, can cure you of pain, depression or addiction. No one can do it for you because no one else has “all” the answers “you” need. Even if some people pretend they got it all together, they don’t. We are all in the same rocking boat together. Some people are just better at hiding their pain and pulling themselves together. And, believe me I have looked hard! LOL.

However, I believe that each person and experience (even negative ones) has a small part in creating one master key to unlock your healing and help you on your way to fulfilling your personal destiny on earth.

What I learned in my last PTSD bout is each person throughout my entire life was crucial in helping me heal myself now.

One day, I hope to write a book about what I have learned and maybe it can help someone else struggling with their own issues – PTSD or otherwise. So I am putting this desire out there in the universe right now for other people to come into agreement with me.

I tentatively plan to call it: Set My Captives Free: How one PTSD war vet healed herself through love, therapy and the Bible.

Well enough about me!

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Here is a sneak peak at the summer edition of Colored Pencil Student Magazine. These people are amazing artists!

– Find out why Will Stoller doesn’t sign his artwork and instead created his own signature brand

– Fiona Rose frames her artwork inexpensively with an embroidery hoop

– Carmen Medlin and the art of ACEO’s

– Irene Marie Cortez quits a lucrative medical career to pursue her love of art

– What’s Funzie Art? Annie Nelson explains

– Ann Nichezynski uses her talent for a bigger purpose to educates people on big cats and other wild animals at the Safe Haven Rescue Zoo

– and much, much more…including information on how to enter the 2015 CP art competition (deadline Sept. 1)

Check out all these great artists at  http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/947536 and get inspired to create your own art!

Then share your artwork with the colored pencil community at Colored Pencil Magazine’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ColoredPencilMagazine?fref=ts.

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CPM and CPS are on all your fav social media sites: Pinterest, Blogger, Flickr, Deviant Art and Instagram. 

Wherever you are online, we are there. Go to our home page at www.coloredpencilmag.com and click on your favorite social media icon.

Melissa LeGates
Associate Editor
m.legates@coloredpencilmag.com
Colored Pencil Student at http://www.coloredpencilstudent.com

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me

Melissa LeGates is a freelance writer and retired Air Force journalist who specializes in feature writing. She is also the associate editor at Colored Pencil Student Magazine, as well as a colored pencil artist herself. She blogs about the exciting world of colored pencil art at coloredpencilenthusiast.wordpress.com.

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6 thoughts on “How writing and art has helped heal my recent bout of PTSD

  1. Dear Melissa- I too love the lord with all my heart. I saved one of your backpack baskets found on Google Image but when I’m sent to Etsy I can’t find it. I would love to purchase it and if you send me an email I have a picture of it that I can email to you.

    1. Hi Shirley, I am not sure what you are talking about a backpack baskets? I don’t sell them. Maybe you have confused me with someone else.

      1. Hi Melissa:

        I got this off the web right by your name and picture. Me, being a green living inthusieth, was looking for a pleasant way to keep from using plastic shopping bags and put all or most of my groceries and dry goods into one easy to carry container.

        Any way I do like your writings. Hope you have a blessed night. Thoughtfully: Shirley Shirley Ross shirleyross10@aol.com

  2. Thank you for the compliment. I think I know what you are talking about now. That was a blog post I wrote for Craft Foxes website. I just linked the backpacks from artists all over the internet into one blog post. Since I worked for them, I shared the article on my site when it was published. The original blog was posted at http://www.craftfoxes.com/blog/crafty-picnic-baskets. The seller probably doesn’t have their Etsy site anymore. Sorry about that. You should type in the artists name from that particular backpack and maybe they have new website where they sell it. Have a great day and thanks for writing!

  3. Wow, that was an extremely deep and inspirational story. Thank you for sharing it with us all. I’m glad you found some comfort though I’m sure it’s a battle. I agree that we all just do our best to hide our problems and some do so better than others. It’s refreshing when people are open and honest about them. We need to be real with one another. I think more than anything our world craves this sort of authenticity. Thank you.

    1. Thank u. The honest truth is I don’t know how to be any other way than largely transparent. Even if I wanted to lie (which I don’t), I am not very good at it. Lol. Being a truth teller in a world that largely supresses authenticity doesnt always make me the most popular person in the room and has cost me some friendships but living a life of lies or half truths isn’t really living to me. Thxs 4 taking time to comment. It means a lot. I love talking 2 fellow wordpress-ers.

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