On August 31st, 2019, a mass shooter in Odessa, Texas killed seven people and injured twenty-five others while driving down the highway between Odessa and Midland for around an hour, leaving behind a traumatized Midland-Odessa community. My friends and family live in that area, and for me, this event led to a struggle with the effects of secondary trauma, including panic attacks and depression. Creativity is one way I have coped. Specifically, I joined an organization called Healing in the Arts, where students write about their traumatic experiences to begin the healing process. In this autoethnography, I discuss my experiences of writing for the show and how it led to me to realize that my mental health struggles after the shooting were not my fault. I frame the discussion using Arthur Frank’s three types of illness narratives: chaos, restitution, and quest. Chaos narratives do not have much structure and occur when people are just trying to handle an illness. Restitution narratives occur when society expects the ill person to get back to normal as soon as possible. Quest narratives occur when people learn from their illness and help others who have similar experiences. Each of these narrative stages played a role in my own healing process and can be seen my in experiences writing for the Healing in the Arts show. This study may further inform researchers, clinicians, and trauma survivors on how creativity can be a vital and necessary coping method.
"Chaos, Courage, and Creativity: Writing and Art to Cope with Secondary Trauma,"
Survive & Thrive: A Journal for Medical Humanities and Narrative as Medicine: Vol. 8:
1, Article 16.
Available at: https://repository.stcloudstate.edu/survive_thrive/vol8/iss1/16