Guest Post by Rebecca Bloom, LMHC, ATR-BC
When mainstream media began to cover that ICE was imprisoning migrant children in cages, I was on the Kornati Islands in Croatia. From a speck of limestone in the middle of the Adriatic Sea, I was doing my best to support my friends in the states as they told me about the unrelenting grief they were feeling. Living in a two room stone house with solar power, cold water only and Wi-Fi, I was sending friends photos of olive trees, street cats and sunsets trying to tell them we would find away to end this.
I had been back in the states for a few months, trying to get my bearings in the landscape of the constant trauma of the Trump era. Then our Senate put Dr. Christine Blasey Ford through all of our collective nightmare. The only way I could find away to function was painting six hours a day. Hours and hours a wash in wet on wet watercolor. All the rage I, and everyone around me felt, and the trauma psychoeducational facts, that she stated from that cold wooden seat could only be processed for me by painting. Our dining room table was covered in paintings. I realized I was illustrating my experience of her experience, like some kind of graphic medicine, illustrated book, water color, vivid explosion, it was just coming through me.
The paintings began to have genres, when my process painting were finished I could see my usual women/petroglyph processing trauma imagery but then I found that for the 1st time in my life I was able to illustrate trauma concepts. Info graphics I had been sketching for years came flowing out as paintings.
For the two previous years, I had been struggling to illustrate a graphic medicine book looking at how Psychoanalytic, Jungian, Feminist, Narrative, and Mindfulness theory addressed Vicarious Trauma. Drawing on twenty years as an Art Therapist, with eight of those years as an Internship Supervisor for a Masters in Counseling I had lots of content to work with. The written material I had was strong, but I was struggling to find my central protagonist. It was such I shock, to see the paintings pile up and realize I was moving from the paneled style I had been imagining to an illustrated book.
I began sending those images to friends that were struggling and got such appreciation back. Their experience of trauma was not crazy, it was the norm. The book took form and is now self published – Vicarious Trauma Illustrated. I dedicated it to Christine Blasey Ford. I’m finding this new style of illustrating really liberating. Currently, filling up the dining room table with what I hope will be my next book, a tarot card deck illustrating the 78 aspects of the Inner Critic.