In the Abyss – Art and Poetry by Charlotte Farhan

In the Abyss - By Charlotte Farhan

In the Abyss – By Charlotte Farhan

 

In the Abyss – By Charlotte Farhan

Loneliness

breaks us

no longer seen

so lonely

left

in our minds

tied up

left alone

unwanted

disused

all wrapped up

consumed

in the abyss

self pity

my only company.

 


 

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“I am Fine” the mantra of unseen illness – By Charlotte Farhan


I am fine….

I AM FINE!

I. AM. FINE. picsart_02-16-06.14.31.jpg

However which way I say these three words they are always a lie. Not a vicious deceitful lie, but a lie which serves me well whilst simultaneously crushing me emotionally; with each utterance. This little sentence has become a habitual response to the question:

How are you?

Which is a very common occurrence, most people do not divulge their entire life story when asked how they are, it is just an extension to how we greet one another, a politeness (especially in England) to reply:

I am fine, thank you. And how are you?

However when you are really asked this question by a close member of your family, your partner, a close friend or even your therapist and you still only ever say:

I am fine. picsart_02-16-06.02.22.jpg

Well this kind of situation is what I am talking about and is what this art piece represents. This is about how self preservation means losing part of your identity, emotionally but more importantly the denial of your present state. Never allowing your armour to be compromised, focusing on other peoples problems and absorbing them, when asked about yourself you divert conversations as if they were on-coming traffic; as if your life depends on it – because it does.

The majority of the time I do not look “sick”, I have mainly unseen illnesses and my most debilitating of ailments is completely invisible to the eye. As well as this many people do not “believe” in mental illness or recognise certain neurological conditions, saying things such as:

It’s all in your head!

It’s mind over matter.

You don’t look sick. picsart_02-16-06.05.19.jpg

These statements are very unhelpful and also redundant in this context. Saying it is all in ones head is a correct statement, mental illness is in our encasement’s which we call heads, in our brains – our minds. It is not in our legs, nor our arms, it is very much a head thing. However saying it to someone as a dismissive statement is not a logical statement as it suggests that your mental illness or neurological condition should not be “in your head”. Suggesting that it maybe make believe or a lie to gain sympathy (which if you are a person who suffers from mental illness you will know this is an insult as there is no sympathy granted to the mentally ill, instead it is stigmatised). As for “you don’t look sick” this one is nothing more than an ignorant judgement, looking at someone with just ones eyes and not a full body CT scanner (which also can not see everything) there is no way to determine someones health or disability status.

Due to all this added conjecture to this particular scenario , it is not hard to understand why the “I am fine” mantra is a fail safe for so many. You get tired of explaining yourself, defending your diagnosis and dealing with people saying things like:

I don’t really believe in mental illness.

Mental illness is a conspiracy to control and label us.

Mental illness is just mental weakness.

i-am-fine-2-by-charlotte-farhan

So the simple solution is to pretend that you are fine, that you do not need help, that you are not “weak” or “dangerous”, for every mental illness denier there is another person who believes we should all be locked up and not trusted due to the stigmatisation and misinformation on both the mentally ill and those with criminal intent.

This may be the simplest of solutions but it comes at a cost to most. You see there is only a finite amount of space in ones emotional storage unit and the continuous throwing anything and everything that you wish to hide in there can mean that you reach a time you can’t shut the door anymore, let alone lock it. This can lead to you bursting and spilling out onto everything around you or it can mean you just implode – self detonate.

Truthfully for me it is a constant battle inside my head, of not wanting to alienate people or scare people with my overwhelming emotional instability and behavioural abnormalities – having to remain stoic by being the person who people come to, the provider, the rescuer. Against letting it all out, a completely “no shits given” attitude, a liberating freedom of being able to just be me, all parts of me at all levels of intensity. This of course is very black and white and a thought process due to my borderline personality disorder, the middle ground does not tend to exist in my world, it sometimes appears but rarely when experiencing high emotions. To pass off the “strong” persona I have to use the “I am fine” line a lot, which is a kind of middle ground, at least it is when one is trying to manage social boundaries and interpersonal relationships – which to me are like alien concepts that cause feelings of being an outsider.

Charlotte Farhan

There have been times in my past when “I am fine” was a defence mechanism as I was in denial about my illnesses and wished to hide the entire idea from myself, blaming my emotions and behaviours on alcohol, drugs and being a “bitch”, that crazy girl thing was easy to flip and present myself to the world as a “bad” person in my twenties – so I stuck to it. People even liked this persona, some celebrated it by telling me they loved my “fuck you attitude” and loved to see me being abusive to others or violent. If the other side, the vulnerable side – was presented (which was me during my teens, from 11 yrs to 20 yrs old) people looked at me as an emotional drain, a liability, dangerous, scary, I became an undesirable human. At these times of no control self harm, suicide attempts, eating disorders, psychosis, machiavellianism, disinhibition and an emotional sensitivity that was never-ending was my way of life. I learnt valuable lessons on survival and how to mimic other humans as a visiting entity from the planet “strange”, using manipulation to gain friends and taking on other identities which were visible to me as ideals, I could be the most popular person in the room or the most disliked, this was not up to my audience or friends, this was up to me and my chameleon like personality. The important thing is I have forgiven myself for being this way, knowing now this was and still is a neurological condition and a perfectly OK way to survive when you have only ever known trauma.

picsart_02-06-06-17-09

Now that I am in my thirties things have got to a point that my life is more introspective and having the perspective of an “adult” allows me to look at my teens and twenties more objectively and see how and why I had to survive this way when there were no adults parenting me and keeping me safe. Being an adult in this way means that when I look back I ask different questions than I did before, such as:

Where were your parents?

How long were you left on your own?

How was it looking after yourself at such a young age?

Did you have to grow up quickly?

There is a draw back to being older however, my emotions get buried deeper, I detach more and say “I am fine” even more than ever. Wanting to be liked for me, not wanting to buy friends or manipulate them to like me, not wanting to be the extreme me who needs someone to safeguard them at all times, not wanting to be the rescuer and the “strong” one all the time. Wanting people to understand my pain more, I want and need actual medical support for my disabilities but am not at a vulnerable age anymore, so am taken less seriously. Hiding in medication and being likeable and not too intense feels like a life sentence:

But still all I can say is:

I am fine!

 


i-am-fine-by-charlotte-farhan


 

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Fragile – Illustration and Poetry By Charlotte Farhan

Fragile

My emotions are encased in glass,

self preservation enclosed them there,

in a mason jar
for safe keeping,

fear like a snake in the grass,

infectious despair
simply to scare,

in my jar
I am left weeping.

Fragility is never a choice,

does the ant get to choose it’s height?

does a butterfly design it’s wings?

I hear “stay safe”
from my little voice,

“fear not”
I reply
“this jar is airtight”,

Outside is not for me
for I see the sadness it brings.


Fragile - By Charlotte Farhan

Fragile – By Charlotte Farhan

 


 

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I carry it with me – By Charlotte Farhan – Art to End the Silence on Rape

I carry it with me - By Charlotte Farhan

I carry it with me – By Charlotte Farhan

I carry it with me

By Charlotte Farhan

The sounds which echoed their imprint into my mind,

The shadows on the wall which danced manically,

That tree which licked the window with its branches,

The light from the door way which gave everything a demonic glow,

I carry it with me.

Your violence towards me which left me bleeding,

Your voice which permeated my ear canals with fear,

Your dominance which left me powerless,

Your face which was engraved into my memory with vandalism

I carry it with me.

Their disbelief is an internal epilogue,

Their abuse which followed yours because I was “fair game”,

Their judgement of my clothes and sanity demonised me,

Their abandonment confirmed every fear and isolated me,

I carry it with me.


This painting and poem is to highlight the impact sexual abuse, sexual violence and rape have on the mind, when you have complex post traumatic stress disorder.

From my collection “Art to End the Silence on Rape“.


For information on available originals or prints for purchase or for galleries wishing to exhibit these paintings in their venues please contact using the form below.

Outsider Art and Poetry – Chained to the Past – By Charlotte Farhan

Chained to the Past - By Charlotte Farhan

Chained to the Past – By Charlotte Farhan

Chained to the Past – By Charlotte Farhan

Chained to my past like a prisoner, with only sorrow to comfort me,
at night the mattress swallows me whole, it becomes pitch black,
let me escape this anguish, this nectarous misery – let me be free,
my torment clenches me tight with gripped arms – holding me back.

Recollection chokes me with the thought of violence,
memories leave me for dead, crying for liberation,
no ability to speak up – I offer silence,
chains are pulled tighter constricting me in my damnation.

Punishment is not a fetish when it is kept unseen,
my head is pulsating, the pressure is mounting in my veins,
steel and blood mixed with sheets I am always unclean,
whose hands are those, the ones holding my chains?


If you have any questions on my work, if you wish for me to exhibit in your gallery or would like to purchase a piece , please contact me via the form below, thank you.

 

Poetry and Art Spotlight: Red – By Charlotte Farhan

Red - Art By - Charlotte Farhan

Red – Art By – Charlotte Farhan

 

RED

by Charlotte Farhan 

A survivor is created through their suffering – not born,

overwhelming need for endurance becomes everything,

red drips – glistening droplets cascading down a single thorn,

petals fall like tears as the red roses are left weeping.

 

Asking for forgiveness from the powers that be,

Rising tall after the holy wreckage,

Seeing nothing but red; left lost with nobody,

from the crimson glow among the breakage,

 

Reaching for that apple; fruit of the poisonous tree

Breaking into pieces, scattering across the earth

red glass cuts; amidst the shards appears a master key

Could this be the moment of sweet release; my rebirth.

 

Being black and blue is nothing new,

the red remains; staining my legs,

however my strength was a breakthrough,

even if the darkness still begs.

 

Purity was ruined by them; they burnt me alive,

breathing is a battle; existing is trying,

nonetheless if in this redness; I can survive,

then a warrioress can break from within; crying.

 

Strength comes from doing whatever you can to stay alive,

crossing that red stop sign can be necessary,

blood alerts us, poppies sooth us, Red Riding Hood reminds us,

warning to all; survival is cautionary.

 

So when you see me and think this is madness,

remember that red is around us and pumps through our veins,

danger is present; a part of the darkness,

however survival comes from this and strength remains.


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Opening Yourself up Within Therapy – Dealing with the Intensity of Reliving

Art By Charlotte Farhan

Art By Charlotte Farhan

Waking up from the intensity of nightmares and night-terrors, feels a though you have been battered black and blue emotionally and physically. The hell of thinking within your unconscious dream state that you are trapped in this dystopian creation of your own afflicted mind, causes you to wake screaming, as if you were grappling through time and space to re enter this realm of existence.

Then you wake; the truth hits you like a tyrannical fist, you try to unpick the mess of your insensible and sensible self which is tangled like forgotten jewelry left in a drawer. You lay there trying to regain some control over your faculties, you are still and lifeless – almost catatonic. The world as we know it has not been brought into focus yet, it is still a distant memory.

Hours go by and you’re still unable to move, your mind is working so hard at the puzzle that is your trauma. At this point what is real and not – is completely interlinked; woven together like a tapestry of war.

Finally you feel able to move, the world has invited you in and you feel, you can find your way there. You stick to muscle memory tasks, such as getting dressed, making a tea and sitting at your desk.

Unfortunately, your mind does not always recognise your consciousness in reality and “the real world”, so it flickers from flashbacks to memories of nightmares, interchanging as if someone had a remote control to your brain and was flicking through the channels of your life.

Art By Charlotte Farhan

Art By Charlotte Farhan

This has been my life for as long as I can remember; however it has grown darker again and is still growing with ferocity. Since becoming older and now in my 30’s, the space in my mind seems to be at capacity, which means when one cupboard or box is opened in my mind – things are now having to be squeezed tighter or rearranged, which in turn causes mess and a lack of new space for new experiences, emotions and eventually memories. Leaving me stuck in a hoarders prison – internally locked in. It is not that I wish to keep these memories or thoughts it is just they need to be processed, labeled and filed away.

Which is difficult when they are buried under years of self preservation.

Reliving trauma in therapy is my only solution, other than self destruction – which is ever so appealing. The temptation of setting fire to the mess that is my internal world seems enticing, a cathartic “fuck you” to the pain. Nevertheless my intentions are to stay in this mind until my husband dies ( which will hopefully be both of us in old age) as the thought of being without him is even more devastating than anything I have ever thought possible. This life is short as I have seen many times over, I promised myself I would spend this time understanding these illnesses which plague me day in and day out, as well as helping others who walk this tightrope of madness and sadness.

Art By Charlotte Farhan

Art By Charlotte Farhan

We will never forget what was done to us – you see. These abusers, predators and enablers, they caused so much of this. With their torture, subjectification, voyeurism, rape, incest, emotional battery and manipulation. Which begs me to ask, what do they carry with them after the fact? The best you can hope for is guilt; but this is not enough, this is not representative of what we suffer, the victims! They want pity, and sympathy for their affliction, which plays into further domination.

Reliving is a daily task, it does not end when I leave the therapy room, it does not silence the sounds of purgatory. It is in fact something those of us who have complex post traumatic stress disorder have been doing everyday and everynight since we were young.

My mind has been replaying reels of trauma – with added horror, as if my psyche wished to add special effects to my already terrifying past. Despite this, upon committing to reliving in a long term therapeutic setting and being at capacity – in my minds storage capabilities, the intensity rises further causing me to experience psychosis and physical pain.

The therapy I am having is a combination of psychodynamic, humanistic, psychoanalyticACT and CBT, this is known as integrative therapy as it uses elements from many therapies; integrative therapists take the view that there is no single approach that can treat each client in all situations. Each person needs to be considered as a whole and counselling techniques must be tailored to their individual needs and personal circumstances. 

This process is long and will be a continued managed activity of will power and a determination to use this experience as a way to contribute to the world. The idea is to turn myself, the victim into a survivor and then a thriver. These will never be whole states of mind, and knowing there will be bad days and good days and even relapses, but using the trauma to thrive even for 10 minutes is something worth committing to.

“It’s often said that a traumatic experience early in life marks a person forever, pulls her out of line, saying, “Stay there. Don’t move.”
Jeffrey Eugenides

Art By Charlotte Farhan

Art By Charlotte Farhan

Recovery is not a time period set out, it is a continued process until death. When I say I am in recovery, do not be confused and think “that’s good she will be recovered soon” this is not how it works. Recovery is about a continued focus and is an exhausting task to undertake daily, which means there will be days I can not do it or days when triggering events or stressful life experiences put the mind back into those frightful moments which we tried so hard to keep organised and tidy.

Let me ask you?

How do you recover from being sexually abused as a child?

How do you recover from sexual violence, rape, assault, stalking and being beaten as a teenager?

How do you recover from having two parents (who are severely mentally ill themselves) one abused you, abandoned you and does not love you at all, to the other who didn’t love you at birth and couldn’t attach to you and who emotionally abused you, kept leaving you with different people and whose constant fragility due to their illness consumed your life?

You don’t recover…

You hopefully survive and then spend your life recovering.

So this is me and where I am, I know I am not alone, I know you are suffering too out there, I know it is hard and you’re ready to quit! But I want you to know that you are not alone and that you need to take this slowly and realistically. Do not allow pressure from others and society; which make you conform. They do not have to live your life, you know the truth.

Living is hard.

But reliving is harder.

Art By Charlotte Farhan

Art By Charlotte Farhan

 

For a bit of history on the practices of therapy in regards to PTSD AND C-PTSD, please read on…

 

Since the re-emergence of recognition of severe trauma on human development and psychopathology in adults in the 1970s, Chu and Bowman observed there had been three generations of trauma treatment theory. The first generation of research and response began in the early 1980s and emphasized abreaction of traumatic experience in treatment. Abreaction originated from psychoanalytic traditions and describes the processes of acting out and expressing unconscious conflicts that, in itself, brings relief.

The second generation, from the late 1980s to early 1990s, developed clearer ideas of the effects of different types of trauma, for example, single incident, adult onset events such as car accidents compared with chronic, interpersonal trauma such as childhood abuse. PTSD described ongoing pathology including the former types of abuse, while complex PTSD described the latter. The global effects of complex trauma across the range of intrapsychic, relational, cognitive, and behavioral functions became a focus. This resulted in recognition of the benefits of employing a number of schools of therapy, and the elaboration of a three-stage model of therapy. This focused first on client safety and stabilization using techniques primarily from CBT, then on processing trauma memories where psychodynamic therapies were utilized, and finally on reconnecting with the wider social environment.9

The third generation, from the mid-1990s to 2000, witnessed the attack of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) on therapies focusing on childhood sexual abuse (CSA). The first response was to polarize views, but then it motivated research that refined assessments of trauma pathology including the effects of trauma on memory, and the etiology of adult trauma symptoms, and generally supported the effectiveness of therapy. The focus of therapy changed from uncovering more instances of trauma, to building a more coherent self-narrative.

If you have any comments or questions please fill in this form and I shall endeavour to get back to you as soon as I am able:

 

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Art to End the Silence on Rape – I Am Still Bleeding

This painting and poem is from my upcoming exhibition; which tells the truth about my rape and sexual abuse, through visual art, poetry, shadow boxes and my story; my hardest and most painful work to date.

With therapy this process of healing is ongoing, these pieces of work which are still being created and crafted are a way for me to understand, cast out the nightmares which have convoluted my reality, addressing the issues victims of sexual violence (like myself) have to face in today’s world which is heavily influenced by rape culture and victim blaming.

 Sharing selected pieces of visual art and poetry (such as these below) before my exhibition is launched is to reach audiences far and wide.

Sexual violence is not prejudice it can happen to anyone. This exhibition is for us all, women, men and children from every ethnicity, social background, sexuality, religion and lifestyle. With doing this, the hope is to give us a voice to tell those who have abused and violated us that we can take the power back that was taken from us, to tell those unaffected how our lives are a daily struggle and to tell the world that there is still so much to do, so that we can end sexual violence for good.

My power was taken.

I am affected.

My life is a daily struggle.

I am a victim and I am a survivor.

I Am Still Bleeding - By Charlotte Farhan

I Am Still Bleeding – By Charlotte Farhan

I Am Still Bleeding – By Charlotte Farhan

 

When you look at me you don’t see blood

my violated self concealed

words which remain misunderstood

as if my sex had been revealed

not a little girl but forced womanhood

left feeling helplessly desecrated

as I had been in early childhood

forsaken; flowerless and humiliated.

Maybe you saw me as a flower bud

not pretty; but ripe and eager to grow

violently picked and dragged through mud

grappling innocence; never to let go

my tears washing my shame in a flash flood

not knowing; if there will be a tomorrow

now reminded of the intrusion by my menstrual blood

in a world with no desire to know.

I Am Still Bleeding - By Charlotte Farhan

I Am Still Bleeding – By Charlotte Farhan

If you have any questions about this painting, poem or the upcoming exhibition, please fill in this form:

 

PTSD AWARENESS ART – Pain and Detachment – By Charlotte Farhan​

Pain and Detachment – By Charlotte Farhan​

Pain and Detachment - By Charlotte Farhan

The pain from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) infects the mind like poisonous thorns and then to alleviate the suffering the mind detaches into a dissociative state. Leaving reality and separating me from the real world.

The PTSD I suffer with is due to childhood abuse from a family member and is also due to being raped at 15 violently.

PTSD is often only associated with war veterans, but many other traumatic events can cause this. Rape, sexual violence and domestic violence victims are a very high percentage of sufferers.

ptsd-for-primary-care-providers-under-the-new-dsm-8-638

Some Facts on Rape

 “Globally, about one in three women will be beaten or raped during their lifetime. About 44 per cent of all UK women have experienced either physical or sexual violence since they were 15-years-old. Britain ranks among the worst countries in Europe when it comes to women being violently abused.”

“1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).

“The most recent UK government statistics estimated about 78,000 people in the UK have become rape or attempted rape victims, and about 9,000 are men. Research suggests that the notoriously low report rate is particularly true among male victims. About 1,250 incidents of male-victim rape were reported to the police in 2011-2012.”

“The year in a male’s life when he is most likely to be the victim of a sexual assault is age 4. A female’s year of greatest risk is age 14.”

“Approximately 4/5 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.”

For more info visit RAINN and Rape Crisis England and Wales

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If you have PTSD or suspect you have find out more here and how to get help.

Quote by Artist Charlotte Farhan

If you are interested in this artwork for your collection, for an exhibition, charity event or would like to buy a print, please use the form below:

 

I Ripped out my Heart – By Charlotte Farhan – Art and Poetry

I Ripped out my Heart – By Charlotte Farhan

 

I Ripped out my Heart - By Charlotte Farhan

I Ripped out my Heart – By Charlotte Farhan

I couldn’t feel anything today,

not one feeling was felt,

shadows of the world like ghosts,

haunted memories locked in,

set to continuously replay.

Desolation in my mind created an echoing sound,

my thoughts rattled in my head like pennies in a box,

my emotions running like deer on a hunting ground.

I slowly began to itch the itch,

the one burrowing into my thorax,

the one which seemed neverending like a bottomless ditch.

Ripping into my torso,

hacking at my ribs as if they were a rotten enclosure.

I started to pick away at my flesh,

trying to get to the prickling feeling deep inside,

pulling up my lungs as if they were a bloody mesh.

My chest felt tight and the constrictions of my rib cage felt like a prison,

All my thoughts turned to the release I would feel if I just reached inside,

my blood is beautifully glistening the purest crimson.

Soon I heard it,

the deep thumping of my heart,

burrowing deeper my hand suddenly felt it,

pulsating in my grip.

The feeling is like none experienced before,

the more I squeezed the better it felt,

as if I were the captor and it my prisoner of war.

Wanting to never lose this awareness of self,

never wanting to abandon my own heart,

like so many had done before,

debasing me and tearing me apart.

I started to slowly haul it out of my cavity,

the ripping was glorious,

the pain was euphoric,

lost in depravity.

Eventually I was left with my heart in my hand,

as it beat its last beat,

the emptiness returned and the emotions stopped,

holding my heart closer,

I began to deplete.

Just me and my heart,

together at last,

no longer spare parts.

Never letting it go,

never losing my grip,

seeing myself lying below,

the nothingness began again,

the waves of time smashed me into unconsciousness,

I became an abandoned ship.

Agoraphobia - By Charlotte Farhan

From the painting Agoraphobia – By Charlotte Farhan

If you are interested in these artworks for your collection, for an exhibition or would like to buy a print, please use the form below: