I Can’t Look Forward – Art and Poetry – By Charlotte Farhan – Reflecting the physical and emotional struggles of having Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

I Can't Look Forward - By Charlotte Farhan
I Can’t Look Forward – By Charlotte Farhan

I Can’t Look Forward

By Charlotte Farhan

In memories I continue to relive,
not able to endure this universes reality,
my amygdala is highly combative,
the fragmented pieces falling from my dead family tree.

Infected fear filled eyes, like sores from the past,
in the depths of hell, everyone is deranged,
truth sees me branded as an iconoclast,
putrid and filthy I’m seen as the estranged.

The dysfunction of my mind continues to breed,
my hippocampus withering as neurons disintegrate,
dissociated in this mad world of misdeeds,
my prefrontal cortex had no time to decontaminate,

My illness is physical which you can’t see,
I have been rearranged internally,
this sickness inside, a screaming apogee,
with my outward mask fixed eternally.

Eyes alert and looking to the past,
like a bête noire lost with nowhere to go,
the trigger is pulled with a loud blast,
night terrors and flashbacks are the ammo.

We are not all soldiers of war back from global battle,
many of us suffer without being part of the bloodshed,
instead our bodies have been used as personal chattel,
We knew our survival would not cause for medals or tears shed.


This painting and poem reflects the physical and emotional struggles of having Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how the world reserves compassion for soldiers of war who have this illness but do not extend the same benevolence to victims of sexual violence and rape, who are a larger number of affected people.

I am one of these survivors; using my art, poetry and writing to raise awareness of the aftermath from being abused, assaulted and raped. As well as to help prevent these acts from continuing and to explain how rape culture in part of the every day fabric of life, which goes unnoticed, but is highly dangerous to us as a global community.

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.

Art by Charlotte Farhan

Art and Poetry Spotlight – Staying Silent

Staying Silent - By Charlotte Farhan
Staying Silent – By Charlotte Farhan

 


 

Staying Silent

By Charlotte Farhan

 

Silence can be heard in many ways,
my silence is a laugh, a smile or a lie,
these create an elaborate maze,
for those wishing to understand and stand by.

Staying silent is now second nature,
people say “doesn’t she seem better”?
They don’t know – I am a big faker,
keeping them happy is less pressure.

Not wanting to be a burden,
as I knew too well this could lead me to be abandoned,
life has always been uncertain,
when I tell people my truth – they often become saddened.

The ruin inside me is enshroud,
as a child I was called damaged and a victim of extremes,
hearing the horror said aloud,
unpacking my unclaimed baggage – which were ripped at the seams.

Not wanting to be inspiration porn,
silence growing louder and louder within,
my laugh weakens, my smile is now forlorn,
whispers in my ear say “take it on the chin”.

This practice is now my way of survival,
the unspoken words crash into my skull with violence,
nonetheless this sound is my only rival,
I close my eyes and allow myself to hear the silence.


If you have any questions or comments on my work, please fill in the form below:

Why I stopped selling my art for a year and the commercial suffocation which killed my creativity

Just over a year ago I decided to take down all my art for sale on my website and removed my art from galleries. This was not due to not selling work or a moody tantrum, this was in fact thought out over some time, which was needed as my mind was riddled with questions such as “will this sell” and “is this going to be popular with customers and collectors”. The part of me which was now in charge of my creativity was also doing mental spreadsheets and customer surveys.

The Broken Willow - By Charlotte Farhan
The Broken Willow – By Charlotte Farhan

Now I am not saying this is not a way to sell art, as there are many successful commercial artists who take to art as they would any business. However this is not for me, I am not driven by money and my philosophy is very anti-capitalistic and personally I dislike any art which is made in the hope of selling for obscene amounts of cash.

The arts have been growing more elitist and individualistic since the 20th century, which historian Walter Benjamin called “The Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” The commodity of art and creativity is now a marketable idea and product to be sold on mass, even though the world we live in is in no way accommodating to the life of an artist, unless you are the lucky few (which is mainly white, middle/upper class men) then you can not replicate the same success as any outlet which churns out art prints of generic tastes to be sold at your local department store. Visual art is taken for granted in our world, imagine the world without it? Removing these visuals from our surroundings would be an extreme shock to our senses, yet we do not value it enough. Art becomes a throw away item, something you donate or sell at a carboot sale or even toss in a skip.

Emotions Take Over - By Charlotte Farhan
Emotions Take Over – By Charlotte Farhan

My husband and I are by no means rich, we are actually under the living wage by quite a bit in the UK, which is why the pressure arises in me at the idea that the only thing I can do well and do from home due to my disabilities was not going to feed us or house us on a regular basis – making me believe that myself and my art were worthless. Which left me hollow and without purpose, so as with everything in my life, this became a question of survival.

Tackling mental illness, sexual violence, capitalism, war and being an outsider artist in general meant that automatically my work would not be considered commercial or be the kind of art that the general population wish to put in their living rooms. Nonetheless this is not of any concern of mine, as the artist my purpose is to create, the rest is not up to me. Over this year many of my followers and fans have asked to buy my art or asked where my art is on sale, but still I did not give in. The journey was not over as I still could hear the faint voice of capitalism whispering in my ear.

With this in mind the idea of selling art became something which actually started to terrify me, the thought that if I started again the muse would leap from my mind, with nothing left to nourish me. So I continued on my quest for my cathartic creativity. Which is what led me to reexamine my roots in art – the reason I had begun and the reason it had saved me from hurting myself for so many years. I remembered painting and drawing as a child when my world was falling apart around me, with no adults to guide me; my art was a comfort and allowed me to express feeling which my young brain could not process with language. Furthermore art therapy had saved me when I was in psychiatric hospitals or therapy, never did I think of “selling art” at these moments, there were no thoughts just creativity exploding from me in every direction with a “fuck you” attitude to match.

Then I thought of the other experiences with art which had suffocated me and led me to become silent. Such as secondary school when my teacher decided her and I had a “personality clash” and that I was just a disobedient child who would not concentrate on the topics at hand. Which is hard for me for many reasons. In class a blank piece of paper would be set down for me, with an objective given, such as to draw a still life of some sort – my mind could not confine itself to the simple still life set out before me, other things would appear in my vision and these would have to be incorporated, different colours emerged which others did not see. Which is what drove my art teacher mad, she would get so angry at me and I just could not understand? This was my best and favourite subject and my way of communicating but it was shut down and I stopped trying and taking part.

My Burial - By Charlotte Farhan
My Burial – By Charlotte Farhan

When later in life I decided to go to art college at 17, having only been out of hospital a short while, the intensity of my emotions and coming from an art therapy environment did not merge well within the confines of academic art. This time I had learnt from previous experiences that my voice was too loud or too raw and with the social pressures of adolescents, which made me want to conform so as to be seen as “normal” and not the crazy girl, I simply muted myself and my creative voice. Which meant yet again the teachers found me difficult, leading me to leave after a year.

With this retrospective, the mission was clear and simple; my work needed to come from the place which has been unheard and abandoned for so long. It is not pretty or comfortable, but it is my genuine voice and my message to the world – with the aim of helping others who like me have been pushed down and silenced.  During my year off from the headache that is consumerism, my mind was able to redevelop the meaning behind my journey as an artist. It is true that for me the message in my work is far more important to me than if it is “sellable”, which meant that finding my voice was the most important aspect for my exploration thus far.

quote-when-it-comes-to-art-money-is-an-unimportant-detail-it-just-happens-to-be-a-huge-unimportant-iggy-pop-81-46-58

Now I am ready to sell my work again and put my work back in galleries, Knowing that the selling is a bonus and the galleries allow my art to be seen and my message to heard by more people. There is now no whispers asking me consumerist questions and there is no compromise to my philosophy. Now I am secure with my art and purpose which means my muse has returned.

If you ever find yourself in this predicament as an artist (of any discipline) then I would recommend a similar period of time away from the suffocation that is our capitalist, consumer driven world, find your roots in your work, work towards your purpose and do not compromise this for anything.

ASLI QUOTE

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How I long to walk carefree in the rain – Art and Poetry by Charlotte Farhan

This painting and poem is inspired by the feelings and emotions which are experienced whilst suffering from agoraphobia.

How I long to walk carefree in the rain - By Charlotte Farhan
How I long to walk carefree in the rain – By Charlotte Farhan

 

How I long to walk carefree in the rain – By Charlotte Farhan

 

There are days when all I want is rain

the cathartic washing of the soul

with every droplet easing my pain

lost, I continue in this black hole.

Staring from my imprisoned windowpane

I imagine myself taking a stroll

allowing the wet the chance to explain

why the sudden downpour, makes me feel whole.

Walking obliviously again

my mind becomes a rapid sinkhole

thoughts collide escaping the membrane

like rocks passing through a buttonhole.

Looking outside with a sense of disdain

feelings of insanity take control

the need to escape taps at me again

my umbrella is left without a role.

How I long to walk carefree in the rain.


How I long to walk carefree in the rain - By Charlotte Farhan
How I long to walk carefree in the rain – By Charlotte Farhan

If you have any questions about my work please use this contact form:

 

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:

 

Art Spotlight – As long as I am breathing – By Charlotte Farhan

As long as I am breathing – By Charlotte Farhan

As long as I am breathing - by Charlotte Farhan
As long as I am breathing – by Charlotte Farhan

Pastel, paint and pen on canvas paper 8.27″ x 11.69″ inches

When you experience feelings of great sadness and emotional pain it is hard to continue, however everyday you breath you are surviving, making a brave choice to carry on regardless.

Breathing itself is a great healer, taking a deep breath, feeling the air in your lungs, this can bring you back into the present and remind you you are real and alive.

This is dedicated to all of us surviving trauma and mental illness.

“As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.”
― Criss Jami, Killosophy

Artist Charlotte Farhan
Artist Charlotte Farhan

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

Art Spotlight – Agoraphobia – by Charlotte Farhan

Agoraphobia – By Charlotte Farhan

 

Agoraphobia - By Charlotte Farhan
Agoraphobia – By Charlotte Farhan 24″ x 30″ x 1″

 

Living with agoraphobia is like being a caged animal who fears its capture and environment. My mind passes back and forth and my panic increases with everyday that passes. Daily events round the world confirm the need to be locked away, for my own safety and sometimes others. On occasion certain parts of my mind wish to escape the confinement the agoraphobia has created, parts of my other illnesses such as my borderline personality disorder and psychotic depression bash their metaphorical heads against the bars of my prison. This illness is the child of my post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), from trauma comes anxiety and this ultimately changed my entire behaviour and personality.

 

Agoraphobia - By Charlotte Farhan
Agoraphobia – By Charlotte Farhan 24″ x 30″ x 1″
Agoraphobia - By Charlotte Farhan
Agoraphobia – By Charlotte Farhan 24″ x 30″ x 1″
Agoraphobia - By Charlotte Farhan
Agoraphobia – By Charlotte Farhan 24″ x 30″ x 1″
Agoraphobia - By Charlotte Farhan
Agoraphobia – By Charlotte Farhan 24″ x 30″ x 1″

 

We have long observed that every neurosis has the result, and therefore probably the purpose, of forcing the patient out of real life, of alienating him from actuality.

(Sigmund Freud)

 

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

Read about my struggles with agoraphobia and share them with a friend, help me raise awareness and end stigma toward mental illness.

The Agoraphobic Artist – My Story

The Agoraphobic Artist – How I live in the captivity of my mind

 

 

The Agoraphobic Artist – How I live in the captivity of my mind

Artist Charlotte Farhan
Artist Charlotte Farhan

Some see agoraphobia as simply not being able to leave your home or a fear of being outside. But I am here to give you a true insight into this disorder.

So lets look at its definitions:

Dictionary definition:

Agoraphobianoun, Psychiatry.

an abnormal fear of being in crowds, public places, or open areas,sometimes accompanied by anxiety attacks.

General definition:

Agoraphobia is what is known as an anxiety disorder characterized by anxiety in situations where the sufferer perceives the environment to be dangerous, uncomfortable, or unsafe.

For more information visit The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) diagnostic criteria via psych central.

So how does my agoraphobia impact my life and what symptoms do I have?

  • I have not left my home or been outside alone for over 9 years. I spend 5 out of 7 days without leaving my home at all. When I do I have to be with a trusted companion, I have a handful of friends and my husband who I trust to do this with. I have to go to familiar shops and take familiar routes. I mainly go to the supermarket, local shops, friends houses and a few outdoor and indoor activities.
  • I can’t answer the door to people, unless I know it is a friend and a scheduled meeting.
  • I find very open spaces terrifying. Such as mountains and rolling countryside, which is difficult because I also love them visually. When in these environments I am on high alert. I am able to go to these places with a companion, but feel like I am going to fall off the earth. Places I have visited like this include The Brecon Beacons in Wales, the deserts in Jordan and The Alps in France and many more, but these stick out in my mind as I felt so overwhelmed by the “exposure” of the the elements and how insignificant I am on this rock in space.
  • I find large crowds panic inducing. A busy shop, a packed cinema, a concert, festival and many other environments are either impossible on most days or need a lot of planning and even then can just be too much.
  • Bridges make me feel physically sick!
  • Most public transport is a big NO! But I can take a plane to visit family in Jordan or for a holiday as long as with my husband. Trains and the underground are the worst and most of the time I would not be able to use these at all.

This is not everything I suffer from but are the main factors within my agoraphobia.

Having had lots of treatment for my agoraphobia but none being successful, has been disheartening. My only success is in my acceptance of the illness, my ability to recognise behavioural patterns and to express my feelings of how it is to live with the condition and raise awareness and understanding, so that others who suffer feel less alone and for those who do not know what it is or how it affects a person, they are able to learn.

This is why I truly believe art is an effective tool within my treatment and general mental health. As well as being something I can do for the wider cause, by sharing my art I am sharing my experience and allowing there to be a visual testimony which will allow others to feel less alone.

Here is my latest piece of art:

Agoraphobia – By Charlotte Farhan 

Agoraphobia - By Charlotte Farhan
Agoraphobia – By Charlotte Farhan

My agoraphobia was born from my PTSD and this is very common for those suffering from these conditions.

The motivation behind my brains need to protect me is a reaction to the trauma I have suffered. Having survived childhood abuse from a family member and then at 15 being raped by a someone I knew and liked, sent my brain into a dissociated state, which in turn built up a fortress in my mind, trying to protect me from being in any further situation or from seeing the abusers again. Unfortunately, since then I have seen them, a handful of times but a handful which was enough to suffocate me and make my illnesses worse, reliving the experiences and feeling like I am a child again, or that 15 year old girl who was just looking for love and kindness not for life to repeat its torture and leave her as a broken doll who had been dragged through dirt.

quote about rape and ptsd

Although my agoraphobia is like a prison, it is also a safe house, a place where I can protect myself and feel like I have done everything in my power to prevent further pain.

Many feelings arise in me due to this forced mental committal, such as being an eternal child/adolescent, shame, guilt and vulnerability to everything. Often I am ashamed that at the age of 31 I am unable to leave my house alone, that I can not go to a shop to buy a pint of milk or far more important things, such as visiting a friend in distress, I lost my independence.

What I wish for you, the reader to remember is that no two people suffering from agoraphobia or any of the conditions I have mentioned are the same. Our experiences are our own and instead of assuming you know why, ask them or just mind your own business.

Just be mindful that there is no simple solution and please do not feel it necessary to try and dominate an individual into doing anything they are not comfortable or ready to do. We are not a “feel good” project for you to tackle, we are people living with a complicated psychological illness which does not need to be fixed by you, your empathy (not sympathy) is the most valuable of comforts. Listen to us, learn about our lives and reasons, do not judge, do not bully. If then, and only then, we ask for help or you wish to offer it, simply accept what we need and if you can help we will be most grateful.

 

mental illness quotes

 

Living with agoraphobia is like being a caged animal who fears its capture and environment. My mind passes back and forth and my panic increases with everyday that passes. Daily events round the world confirm the need to be locked away, for my own safety and sometimes others. On occasion certain parts of my mind wish to escape the confinement the agoraphobia has created, parts of my other illnesses such as my borderline personality disorder and psychotic depression bash their metaphorical heads against the bars of my prison. This illness is the child of my post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), from trauma comes anxiety and this ultimately changed my entire behaviour and personality.

Charlotte Farhan - Photography by Lisa Reeve
Charlotte Farhan – Photography by Lisa Reeve

If you or anyone you know suffers from agoraphobia please find more information via these links:

ANXIETY UK

NHS

Psych Central 

Here is another article I wrote on this subject:

The Agoraphobic Artist – My Story

 

 

Art Saves Lives International Posters designed by Charlotte Farhan

As the Managing Director of ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL creating merchandise for our new online store (which will be launched early next year) is a fun project for me to take on.

We shall be selling posters, postcards, greeting cards, art prints, music, arts and crafts, T-shirts, stationery, books, online-courses and we hope to stoke items from artists around the world, so you can by from the artist through us! So as this is my baby, I decided to take the plunge and start creating.


 

Here are 3 NEW posters I have created the artwork for:

ASLI Poster By Charlotte Farhan

 

 

Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.
(Plato)

 

ASLI Poster By Charlotte Farhan

 

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

ASLI Poster By Charlotte Farhan

The animated bug has bitten pop culture. It makes me feel happy and free. When you don’t act seriously, you can make up your own rules.”

(Nicki Minaj)

 

More artworks to come very soon…

We will also be doing competitions for artists to enter their designs to be featured on our merchandise.

If you are not familiar with ASLI and our mission and aim then check them out at http://www.artsaveslivesinternational.com

ASLI infographic by Charlotte Farhan

Remember when we at ASLI talk about artists we are talking about all disciplines within the arts…

Such as: visual artists, photographers, writers, poets, dancers, performance artists, thespians, graphic designers, crafters and artisans, musicians, singers, cartoonists, fashion designers, film and documentary makers, journalists, bloggers… basically if you are using your artistic and creative self to make a difference we are talking to you!

ASLI infographic by Charlotte Farhan

If you have any questions about ASLI or wish to get involved please fill in the form below or contact us at artsaveslivesinternational@gmail.com

ASLI WEBSITE BADGE

 

Art Spotlight – Female War – By Charlotte Farhan

Female War – By Charlotte Farhan

 

Female War - By Charlotte Farhan Acrylic On Boxed Canvas 10" X 12" X 1"
Female War – By Charlotte Farhan
Acrylic On Boxed Canvas 10″ X 12″ X 1″

 

This Depicts The Want For Freedom For Women.

From The Rigid Gender Roles That Society Has Imposed Upon Us.
Our Gender System Has Created Oppression And The Female War Has A Mission To Overthrow This System By Any Possible Means.

We Believe That We Must Wage A War Against Patriarchy And The Gender System Which Confines Us To These Rigid Social Roles.
The Domination Of Women Is The Oldest And Worst Kind Of Oppression In The World. This Is Because It Spans Across The World Oppressing Women Of Different Races, Ethnicity, Classes And Culture.

 

Female War - By Charlotte Farhan
Female War – By Charlotte Farhan

 

“As Anarchism Is A Political Philosophy That Opposes All Relationships Of Power, It Is Inherently Feminist”

(L. Susan Brown)

 

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