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Florida Gulf Coast University
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Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
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ALYSSA BATES

I FELT SO MUCH I SOON FELT NOTHING

Senior Project DECEMBER 2015

“When will the nightmares end,

when will I be whole again?”

-Michele Bates


The mind is a complex environment with a delicate balance that is easily upset by trauma. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that is triggered by events so terrifying that the person cannot cope or function. Although this condition is often associated with the military, anyone can be diagnosed with this disorder. There could be someone standing right next to you suffering, and you wouldn’t even know it. When the traumatic events do not end, over time the mind is unable to cope. The person feels trapped within themselves, reliving the trauma over and over. How do you cope when you can’t escape? These invisible wounds ensnare the individual in a battle that never ends. The inner struggle to cope is what I am uncovering through this project.


I Felt So Much I Soon Felt Nothing is inspired by my past, present and future exposure to PTSD.  My mother was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when I was a child. She did not bring up her condition very often; if she talked about her life, it meant that she had to relive the darkest moments. Over time I normalized my mother’s symptoms as just a part of who she was, a part of her personality. Now, my husband is about to join the Navy, and my thoughts are brought back to the “what-ifs.” What if we do experience another disastrous war and he comes back with this terrifying disorder? What if we can’t find a way to cope with this life altering condition? Within these works I am exploring the emotions and coping methods of those battling with PTSD. I am focusing on the emotionally charged words a person suffering with this disorder feels. The creation of this work is fueled by this real desire to understand this disorder, my mother, and the military life on a deeper level.


To start this project I turned to interviews with my mother and online interviews with those suffering from PTSD to better understand the feelings I am trying to portray. Words are important for my works. In some of the online interviews, soldiers had a hard time talking about their experiences because they did not want to be looked down upon. I have been using their phrases and stories both physically within my works and as inspiration. Textures and layers create a visual analog for this condition. I am using acrylic paint, crackle paste, tape, ink, and charcoal within my pieces. These layers are meant to represent being overburdened with trauma and being unable to escape from it. Each piece became a process. The letters within my pieces had to be individually made. The step by step process of thinking about the word and stamping each letter is a way to emotionally connect to what is being expressed.