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  • Writer's pictureLinka Lipski

Traumaception: why I procrastinate making art

three 'trauma sketchbooks' opened showing drawings.
My trauma sketchbooks

In the last week or so, my mood has plummeted down into the realm of depression. I have many reasons to be as there is much to grief. I have had quite a lot of past sexual abuse flashbacks in the last two weeks, and I am in the process of grieving the person I could have been. On top of that, the news of Leo Grasset - a French YouTuber who does scientific vulgarisation - abusing women has upset me and reminded me of my former abusive ex (more flashbacks). A day later, the news of the Roe Vs Wade - people with uteruses losing human rights in the United States - came through and with it, the victim-blaming commentaries online. More triggers for me as I remember the lack of justice I received after reporting sexual abuse to the police and the victim-blame I have often endured (yet even more flashbacks). Do not worry. I will be okay again. This too shall pass, but it is fair to say I have much grieving to do and good reasons to be depressed.

Said bout of depression made me realise how, for me, being depressed quickly becomes a trigger in itself. Let me explain. Depression means I'm sad, numb, or angry, as one would. In other words, I'm hurting, I'm in pain. That state raises the wants and needs I have. I need to be soothed, taken care of and hugged while I go through the emotions. I want the pain to go away, a fairer world, and people to be kinder. So far, all seems alright. But experiencing needs and wants triggers past emotional and neglectful abuse, which then makes me depressed and keeps me trapped in a cycle of wants and needs triggering depression ad infinitum. A sort of "traumaception" where trauma brings you one level deeper and deeper until you struggle to recognise what is fantasy from reality.

Growing up, my needs were used as ammunition against me (the reasons behind it are not the topic here). Each desire and need is akin to a bullet to be loaded into a weapon for abuse. There were three ways for my needs to be addressed: denied until I met their needs, dismissed as inappropriate or attended with conditions attached. Conditions were to forfeit independence and freedom and attend to their excessive needs later. Experiencing any form of need is like renouncing myself to abuse. My logical child's mind thought that if I made my needs disappear, there would be no more bullets for them to load the weapons with. One has to admire my past child self's inventiveness and innocence. No one told her they could still hit her with an empty gun. I've grown up, and all I know is to make my wants and needs disappear and attend to those of others. Well.. in recent years, I've been working hard to undo that.

Pen drawing of a bird with gold ropes tight around its body. The wings are detached from the body and opened on both side and a pencil triangular geomteric shape is above the bird's head.
Pen drawing of feeling trapped

Relationships-wise, it's a problem. I still don't know how to trust people. I sometimes attempt to share my needs and wants. I share perhaps between 1 and 10% of my actual need because I don't want to overwhelm people. Unfortunately, in many instances (not always, of course), I find that their efforts are limited and don't even cover a tenth of my need. I likely communicated poorly and clumsily, and maybe people misunderstood its importance. The results are the same, I lose trust and proceed to close the door a little more. And the cycle repeats, I feel down, isolate myself and so on.

How does this have anything to do with art?

Well, you may not know, but I procrastinate making art all the time. I think it's partly because I deny my wants and needs. Every day I think about making art, and my lists of creative projects inside my head keep getting longer and longer. I think about it most when I go to bed, and I tell myself, "If I do it now, I'll mess up my sleep schedule and my health, so I'll do it tomorrow". Tomorrow comes, and I make no art, and the cycle repeats. Mostly, I believe I am attempting to preserve my art, which is usually an extension of me, from being weaponised against me. I want to keep it safe, in my head, where no one can get to it. No one can abuse it.

I want to reach out to the child past me, hug her and tell her she's been so clever in keeping herself safe even though that wasn't her job. I want her to know she can let go now. She's too scared still, so bear with me while I work through this...

Pen drawing of a bat foetus with wings covering the face, frontal view, in a circle filled with gold paint
Pen drawing of a bat foetus

🤍 with love, x


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