The Underwater City: Trauma Expressed via art

Photo by Sabrina Dedek.

Much like many famous painters who’ve expressed their heartache on canvas, poetry too can often be a method used to convey pain and trauma; Processing it through the mind and then out to the fingertips, with words that flow mellifluously onto paper as a symptom of a tumultuous road. 

Student Maggie Bedrin is no exception, using her poetry as an outlet to her deepest thoughts and emotions. Afterall, even our innermost sensations deserve to breathe. 

Bedrin’s poetry comes from the inspiration of the misfits; “A large part of it [where her inspiration comes from] is being generally misunderstood by lots of peers. There seems to be a lot of disconnection between my home life and mental illness,” Bedrin says. “There was a severe lack of communication in my childhood; I’ve worked very hard at communicating as a person.”

She began using poetry as an outlet her freshman year of high school, writing a poem daily; Sometimes up to twelve. She had just moved to Oregon from Dublin, California, and she “didn’t have any friends. I felt less lonely when I was writing about my feelings.”

Bringing her process into adulthood, at the young age of 19 Bedrin carries herself like a fine pink floral aged mead, only getting richer with time and a little wild in its complex flavor. She continues to do poetry because she feels she can accurately express herself that way, hoping to be better understood. 

Most recently, she has been diagnosed with complex PTSD. 

“I have a very new diagnosis that I think is commonly misunderstood because it’s hardly studied. It’s called complex PTSD, which you can think of as the worst umbrella term. Complex PTSD, for me, can include OCD, bipolar, personality disorder, anxiety and depression, memory loss, and more.” 

This diagnosis in her case is caused by childhood trauma. Like gasoline on a fire, Bedrin uses this trauma as fuel for her poems. To date, she has written three poetry books, the first is titled “The Underwater City (My Deepest Thoughts.)” However, she has a fear of copyright, so if you’re interested in purchasing one of her books, she has asked that you reach out via her email;

“Maggie is so talented and good at everything she does. I just wish she liked her own art as much as everyone else does,” says student Anna-Marie Smith. 

Though studying graphic design, her primary mediums include writing, painting, and ceramics. One of her most proud pieces is a series of paintings and poems called “The Bluest Tears.” This four part series is “about a girl who loses the ability to see the primary colors because of grief. In each painting and poem, she regains one of the primary colors through healing.” Stay tuned for another article featuring this set.

Bedrins goal as a writer is to try and reach the public, to “help people understand [mental illness as a whole] and to create a better dialogue.” She does ceramics “mostly for my mental health.” Ceramic Professor Renee McKitterickcan often be heard telling her students that “ceramics is cheap therapy.” 

 She hopes that within her artwork, both of the writing and the 3D plane, she can reach those who may or may not be struggling with mental health. “I’m sorry for the possible hardships you have faced. I hope my poetry brings you comfort.”

In reference to mental health treatment, Bedrin says, “I think one should only seek therapy when they are ready to listen. Everyone needs to heal at their own pace.”

Below are five of Bedrins’ poems.

Second Thoughts of a Second Skull

“This is about how trauma robs you of a lot of things. Such as energy motivation, or even relationships.”

I suppose carrying trauma

Is like having a second head

Probably rotten


Probably broken

Probably dead

It feeds off your life

Yet stays so dull and sore

Like an eraser only taking life

When you only wish for more

I suppose it happens in the worst of times

Where you’re already too tired

It sucks the color from your words

Leaving kindness to be desired

And I suppose it takes the happiness

From both you and I

For you can’t act too nice

And so I can’t reply

And suppose you’re trying very very hard just to change

Trying to find

Not having a second head won’t be too very strange

And soon you’ll lack your second thoughts

Of another skull to your brain

You’ll have color

You’ll lack strife

You’ll be free and full

And full of life

An Unforgettable Feast 

“This poem is about overanalyzing yourself in search of a solution.” 

The rabbit feasted on the moon

As it’s only source of life

Picking at the craters

Using teeth like a knife

“It doesn’t taste like cheese,”

The rabbit tells the black

“It tastes more like dust,

And the life is does lack”

While the rabbit’s eating

It’s running out of room

No room to place it’s feet

While it still moves to consume

So feast away it does

Till standing on a rock

Balancing on its tip toes

It still does try to talk

“I’ve feasted on myself,”

The rabbit tells the moon

“For myself I have destroyed,

And now I lack a room,

Tell me simple stars,

If I didn’t feast,

Would I still be empty?

Or would I be at peace?”

Complex PTSD 

“This poem is specifically about complex PTSD, paranoia, and memory loss. One of my favorite lines in this poem is ‘as I seek forgiveness for things I did not do.’” 

The farther I reach into my mind, the less I can grab

And the nothingness naws at me, as I am a mindless fool 

Full of too many thoughts and not enough memories to think of

But questioning if I really want them leaves me thankful that I can’t remember

My memory doesn’t serve me well, and for that I should be thankful or maybe just afraid

Afraid of what waits for me as I seek forgiveness for mistakes I didn’t make

Afraid of the realizations, the thoughts, and the fears that wait for me in the dark 

I find myself seeking fear, as I cannot help it

There has to be something there, behind the corner, just past that door, on the other side of my bedroom walls. 

Something waits. 

It has to be waiting, I have not seen it. 

I must have a reason to be afraid. It is what’s not there that I fear, and everything invisible that keeps me there 

Before the corner, in front of the door, and inside my bedroom walls

It is I who keeps myself here, and for that I am thankful and also afraid

A Fearful Flight

“This one is about misconceptions with anxiety and the ability to do things; Once you are about to do something, it is easy. Well it’s not.” 

“If we fear the fall,

We will never fly,

Since a bird never doubts its wings,

Why the hell should I?”

“You’re forgetting the most important piece,

The steps to the cliff,

The baby bird would look at the ground,

And just go straight up stiff,

For each feathered thing must learn,

What it’s like to fly,

Also how to fall,

And not to fear too much to die.”

One’s wise, One’s wicked

“This is about me not opening up to people in fear of being hurt. It’s about my vulnerability, consent, and my feelings.”

“If you’ll only part your ribs,

Enough for me to see,

I’ll plant a flower,

But I need your key.”

I scowled at him

For I knew

That once a flower’s rooted

It tangles around and through

Each bone

Every organ

And every single thought

Leaving me defenseless

Leaving me to rot

I spun my ring of keys on my fingers

And he stared at my heart

Locked and guarded

And not to be torn apart

“You must think yourself very wise,

With such a full proof plan,

But I promise you,

I’ll never give my heart to such a man,

You may have given me flowers,

A letter and a ring,

But one thing you never brought,

Is the love you couldn’t bring.”

Photo by Sabrina Dedek.
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