This blog entry is full of photos and is an art therapy blog. This is the work of a mother whose 2 children suffer with Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease does not only traumatize the direct victim, but can also traumatize those who love the family member and have to watch her/him suffer with symptoms.
Notice how anyone of any age can participate in art therapy or sand tray therapy. It only takes a creative open mind and a bit of courage to do it. Sometimes art and sand tray therapy create an instant relief and other times they are vehicles of expression. Regardless of its purpose in that moment, art therapy can help sooth the brain's limbic system and bring about a deeper healing than talking alone. Often clients will say that art in and of itself helps get the topic started.
Art Therapy: Painting
This was an earlier painting. It was created by the mother 9 months into the treatment of her children. The children were experiencing "Herx" reactions, meaning their symptoms were becoming increasingly worse and more complicated. The red underneath is the mother’s heart. After painting this, mom stated “It feels like my heart is being ripped out through my chest”. Watching her children endure OCD, depression and debilitating fatigue was excruciating for her. Seeing her once very active children stay indoors and in a wheelchair was heartbreaking.
Here is a portion of her sand tray. She and her husband are racing to save their children. The deer preparing to attack her son represents her constant fear of reinfection. Because her family used to enjoy camping and hiking together, the threat of another tick bite feels always present. Her daughter struggles with suicidal thoughts and cycles of dark depression. Mom is racing to save her from sinking deep into the quick sand. What a beautiful way to depict how one feels without have to really talk about it. What you cannot see is the sniper in the corner pointing his rifle at the father. Mom feels like no one really understands their journey and that doctors have blamed her or her children for symptoms that they do not understand. She states that getting help outside of their Lyme Literate Doctor has been scary and seeking out specialists feels risky due to the lack of knowledge in the medical community.
Art Therapy: Oil Pastels & Chalk
Along the same theme as the above painting, mom reports that it feels like her daughter is being "ripped from my womb". This woman talks about missing her child and the way things were. Watching her once honor student become lost to depression, suicidal thoughts and isolation scares her. She drew her daughter as a middle school aged child within her womb. Mom states that not being able to protect her children from the every changing symptoms of the disease is terrifying. This opened up a dialogue about how vulnerable she feels and feels her children are and that she feels there is nothing she can do to protect them.
Art Therapy: Collage Painting
This is one of the latest paintings created by this mother. Sitting in front of the easel with the only directions being to express the emotions of her week, she decides to paint a big thick tornado. This tornado was trying to destroy her family and their home. It managed to create casualties along the way, leaving blood and a broken, displaced heart. She had the idea to rip apart the tornado and piece it together showing that though it was still a piece of her and still relevant to her family, it did not define them. Recreating the structure of the tornado seemed to bring with it a balance of control and honesty. Controlling it's shape and removing the funneled power source felt empowering but anyone looking at this creation knows that the pain is still intact. Therein lies the honesty.
Unless specified, Gabrielle Anderson, lmft is the author of these posts. Gabrielle is a Therapist and the Director at FTC. She is a married mother of 2 and has experienced chronic infection in the practice, herself and in her family.
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