1. bury or drown beneath a huge mass.
2. defeat completely.
3. have a strong emotional effect on, be too strong for; overpower.
Overwhelm is from the Stroke of Emotions Series I created in 2017.
In this image, I sit blindfolded in a boat without oars. Helpless to the environment that surrounds me, I am unprepared for the future and what it holds.
Do you ever feel helpless or overwhelmed?
I believe it's a natural part of dealing with emotional trauma.
For me, the feeling of being overwhelmed happens early on in a crisis, that moment in time when we are aware of what is happening but before our brain can process all the implications of the event. It is a feeling that also occurs again and again in the weeks and months after the initial crisis.
It's a bit like being in shock.
Your brain knows what's happening. Insert your life event here - I have just been told I lost my job,I just found out I have cancer, my beloved pet just died, my spouse just had a stroke...
but your emotions haven't had a chance to catch up.
I'll give you a couple of examples from my own life to help explain this phenomenon.
In 2010, I was sitting in a doctor's office with John. The doctor had just told us that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. We couldn't think of many questions, and left her office. What to do? We had planned to go grocery shopping after our visit to the doctor, so that's what we did. Even though we just received a verbal bomb shell, we carried on with our day to day lives. We hadn't yet begun to process how the words "you have cancer" would impact our lives. We were overwhelmed.
In another example from 2017, John had just had a major stroke and was being airlifted from our home town to a hospital in a major city. Unable to join him in the helicopter, I was making the hour long drive with our two dogs in the car.
I was calm and controlled and the mantra going through my mind was "everything I have experienced in my life has prepared me to deal with this moment". Over and over again, I repeated this aloud in an attempt to reassure myself that I would be able to deal with what may come.
The only other memory I have from that car ride was a 25 year old song coming on the radio. Alanis Morrisette wanted me to know that everything was gonna be just fine, fine, fine because she had one hand in her pocket and the other hand was making a peace sign.
Looking back, I realize that my brain was in shock and protecting me from feeling a paralyzing fear that in fact, maybe it wasn't going to be fine at all.
About Stroke of Emotions:
In an effort to deal with my worry and feelings of helplessness after my husband had a major stroke in 2017, I turned to my hobby of photography. I took self portraits and created composited images using my photographic library to help define and illustrate my feelings. From devastation through rejuvenation, it is a story of a healing journey that I hope will help others going through a difficult time.
The complete story of Stroke of Emotions is available in book format. To view and/or purchase online click on this link.