Welcome

Painted Pinecone is a space where I will be sharing my art as an important part of my healing process. I meet many other people as I continue along my healing journey. We are all at different points but I am often asked to share my art by others who are also committed to self-healing. So here I am!

I live with chronic pain. In my exploration to find ways to help my pain, I am making many new discoveries about how the trauma I suffered as a child has affected the way I have coped with my life and the opportunities there are to change outdated patterns of coping. This is proving to be such an awakening journey, as I learn how to create new patterns of self-healing, I am discovering a great deal about how and where I became lost in life and how this contributed to my chronic pain.

Throughout my years in dealing with my chronic pain, some clarity has emerged. I found an amazing doctor at a pain clinic who helped me to see that the roots of my Chronic Myofascial Pain and Fibromyalgia lie in something called Complex PTSD. This was a major turning point in my healing.

What is CPTSD? (see links/resources)

I had suffered with PTSD in the '90s for a long grueling 7 years before being able to return to work part-time. I worked really hard at pushing myself out of that space and dove headlong into work as soon as I could manage to do so. I was eager to be on the same track as the rest of the world and leave behind all the pain. (But, as hard as I tried, it didn't really work that way)

Although I was able to get by at work, my life was still riddled with PTSD symptoms that seemed to never leave me. My therapists would explain it was all normal considering the Trauma I had experienced and with time it would get better. It sure didn't seem that way, but I felt I had little choice in the matter, I did the best I could to live through a disastrous emotional roller coaster. Let me rephrase, I did my best to APPEAR normal on the outside despite the constant shit-storm I was living with on the inside.

I continued my talk therapy, believing the mantra, "Just hang on, with time it will get better." But, with time, I started developing more and more health issues:

Celiac's disease, other food allergies, a real susceptibility to food poisoning, IBS,

disabling headaches, extreme fatigue, zero energy, chronic overall pain, noise/stimulus sensitivity,

teeth/gum disease, bone loss and bone degeneration, TMJ, insomnia despite being so

utterly tired, recurring sinusitis, constant neck and back pain, sciatica, monthly recurring

infections, recurring flus with excruciating body aching, memory issues, difficulty following

complex instructions. Eventually, it went from bouts of recurring sickness and melded into a constant

sickness that encompassed all of these and incapacitated me even further with symptoms too long to

mention. I developed chronic illness and chronic pain that I couldn't push or fight my way through

anymore. I had to stop working in 2010 and my healing journey began.

I was diagnosed with Chronic Myofascial Pain and Fibromyalgia in 2010. Five years later into my healing journey, is when I was diagnosed with CPTSD. HUNH?! I explained all the talk therapy I'd done. I'd been in talk therapy since I was 19 until I had to stop work, surely you must be kidding me! I was done with talk therapy dammit!!!

Except, I wasn't. My mind may have decided it was done revisiting the Trauma, but my body wasn't done. She continued to be riddled with chronic tension and trigger points from muscles that could never undo, that still live in fear, that have forgotten how to let go and return to a relaxed state. Instead they curl right back up into the patterns of tension and knots I call home, muscle armoring, holding on for dear life, still in survival-mode. My psyche still struggles to believe in my own worth, to believe it is safe to be seen for who I really am, someone who carries a big story that few people are prepared to hear, someone who has struggled with the effects of Trauma for my entire adult life, whether I wanted to admit it or not.

Trauma is rampant in our society, and we are all affected by it whether we want(ed) to be or not. When we pretend past trauma or current diagnoses of it are all bullshit, not only can it cause further trauma to the self and to others, perpetuating the cycle, but it also takes a serious toll on the body. Survival-mode can only be maintained for short periods of time by the body. Eventually it over-taxes the system and physical illness develops, even if we think we have figured out some sort of hack to keep us going.

I realize now the fight to get back to work, and stay at work, and appear healthy is something I took on

in survival-mode, with a do-or-die desperation, of grasping/wanting to hang onto it, because

it allowed me to believe in the myth that I was healthy if I was working. I wanted to be healthy and

believed in the fake-it-til-you-make-it philosophy. Work was my misconstrued marker for health, it was

the hack I used to keep myself going, to keep myself believing I was a healthy when I really wasn't.

Our minds can be persistent and refuse to give in but it seems that our minds don't get to decide when our bodies should be healed.

It is my intention to fight the fear that grips me and tries to keep me hostage, by opening up my art and my healing journey to others. I do so because I wish to be a voice for civilians, who can also suffer from CPTSD, though it's usually associated with Veterans. Art therapy has been a huge part of my healing and I am grateful for its healing powers. This site honors the art that helps me to put myself back together, piece by piece, and counteracts the stigma surrounding trauma & illness.

I am intent on releasing the patterns that hold me back, and to find a path where my experience can be seen and valued for the lessons it carries. My involvement in women's circles has shown me the healing value of sharing my experience (both for myself and others), of reclaiming my story by standing in it authentically, refusing to hide it and belittle it, but rather embody it as a story of triumph despite the scars.

Welcome to my website, where I celebrate my healing and the healing of all Trauma as a sacred act.

"Goddess Brigid of the ascending flame,

My Divine Creative Spark,

Show me my gifts of artistic creation,

to light my way through the dark."

-Katherine Skaggs

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Painted Pinecone is a glimpse into my healing journey with Complex PTSD, Chronic Myofascial Pain, & Fibromyalgia.

 

Art gives my life purpose. This site honors my artistic creations but also the processing, the healing, and integrating that brought me to creating each piece, and moving forward every day. 

 

Nature is my religion, and the Creative Spark within each of us is divine.

 

I am grateful for the opportunity to share my journey with you, and my wish for you is that you find creative ways to tap into your strength on your own healing journey.

 

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Edmonton, AB, Canada

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