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If You've Ever Struggled to Explain Your Trauma, This Lasagna Comic Might Help

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If you’re a trauma survivor, you might know what it’s like to try to explain how complex healing from trauma can be. And while some loved ones respond in a supportive way, others might reply with “harmless” comments like, “That happened so long ago, why are you still talking about it?”

If you can relate, you’re not alone — and we want to point you in the direction of a simple illustration that might help you on your healing journey.

Julia Rose, illustrator and creator of the Instagram account @howamifeelingg, created a comic to describe how she conceptualizes her past trauma. The best part is she does so using a pasta lover’s favorite dish — lasagna! Check it out below.

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I’ve spent a lot of time over the past month or so writing about a traumatic experience I went through as a teenager and it’s been rough. Even though I’ve written about this experience a number of times in the past, it still managed to slowly swallow me whole. I was a bit annoyed that my mental health still wasn’t stable enough to hold me in place but I was more-so just plain exhausted from reliving it and going over every detail again. . As much as I wanted to keep digging at that particular wound, I knew I had to stop. Ironically, just moments later, I was able to connect the dots between that original experience and something that happened years later. . Trauma is incredibly complex. It takes a lot of time and energy to uncover the exact things it has influence over in our lives and behaviors, especially. It’s an ongoing process that alternates between digging into it deeper and stepping back to look at the bigger picture. . (Note: I have no idea where the idea for this image came from but it made me laugh so here we are). . . . . #howamifeeling #howamifeelingg #mentalhealthart #mentalhealth #artformentalhealth #theartidote #psychology #trauma #recovery #mentalhealthsupoort #twloha

A post shared by How Am I Feeling? (@howamifeelingg) on

The beauty of Rose’s “trauma lasagna” comic is it perfectly shows a reality many trauma survivors face — the deeper you delve into your trauma, the more buried symptoms you might uncover. In the comic, Rose labels each layer of the lasagna with typical trauma symptoms like flashbacks, buried emotions and trust issues. Sound familiar?

“I wish people understood that symptoms can manifest themselves in a multitude of ways,” Rose told The Mighty. “It’s a lot to handle when you’re trying to put together the pieces of what happened and it takes a lot of time to figure everything out.”

Rose told The Mighty the inspiration for her trauma lasagna comic came to her one day as she was going through her normal routine. She said her ideas for illustrations often come from getting “lost in her head” thinking about her life experiences. She said art has been an important outlet in her healing process:

I think art plays two main roles in my mental health journey. The first being it gives me a way to vent things when I don’t feel like I have the words to explain it through writing. … The second is that creating these illustrations often makes me laugh. I take mental health very seriously, sometimes to a fault, and I can easily get caught up in that mindset.

Rose hopes her art can support people who are struggling with their mental health. When asked what advice she would give someone living with the impact of trauma, she told The Mighty one of the most important parts of healing is feeling.

“Allow yourself to feel everything — all of it. It will hurt in all new ways and the amount of pain will feel immense like it never ends, but it does,” she said. “Allow yourself to cry, to scream, to do whatever it is you need to do. … Emotions get jumbled and are difficult to make sense of after trauma and sometimes they come out in new and different ways — let them.”

Did you know The Mighty has a #TraumaSurvivors community? Head here to give and get support from other trauma survivors.

To read more from our Mighty community, check out the following stories:

Originally published: June 3, 2019
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