By Ashley Kincaid
An artist’s portfolio tells a story, I’m proud of what mine is telling.”Ashley Kincaid
My personal journey with trauma and mental health began at five years old. I was molested at my small hometown elementary school by an older classmate. This was a devastating blow to my family.
No one knew that my classmate was being abused by his parents. He was just acting out what was being done to him. For him, his interaction with me was normal.
This doesn’t make what happened right, but it does stand as an example that how you treat others has the power to drive their future decisions and change the course of their lives.
I could look at that incident and mourn the loss of my innocence, but instead I choose to think of my classmate. After the dust settled from the investigation, his own suffering ended, and his healing journey began.
In my adulthood, I’ve experienced multiple incidents of sexual assault, and I have been the victim of domestic violence. I’m well acquainted with the struggles that victims face.
I am proud to say that these experiences have not ended my story. They have molded my character and developed a will within me to forge a new chapter in my life.
In the fall of 2015, I created The Type4Me Project as a way to develop and promote my hand lettering, graphic design, and typography skills. The project has evolved over the years into a vehicle that I utilize to raise awareness for the black and white thinking that affects trauma victims and those suffering from Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, and other mental illnesses.
Through Type4Me, I’ve been able to connect with others affected by trauma and mental illness. I create artwork that is meaningful to them. I then share the artwork as entries on Instagram. I share their inspirational stories.
After trauma, victims have a strenuous path to recovery ahead of them. The individual on this healing journey can be supported by trusted companions but ultimately must walk the path alone. By learning self-reliance and restoring their confidence, those victims can transform into survivors. Recovery is not linear. There are setbacks. This transformation is often clouded by extreme perception. We no longer view the world in shades of grey, we now see it separated into black and white.
Black and white thinking is something, as trauma victims, we struggle with every single day. Little things going awry have the power to make us feel like the world is crashing down around us. We have no control over this. We can’t help how our brains function after going through what we’ve experienced. We can only move forward. One day at a time.
It has taken me my lifetime to heal. Some days are good. Some are bad. But with each new day I feel like there’s a little less black and white and a little more grey.
The greatest accomplishment for my project so far would be the sense of hope it has instilled in myself and others. My work and skills are communicating a message of empowerment and offering a glimmer of happiness to a community of people that need it most.
My main desire is that through connecting with others who are struggling, they will see that something beautiful can be born out of suffering. Through small acts of kindness, we can make the world a better place.
What does the future hold for The Type4Me Project? I’m not entirely certain. It has already accomplished more than I ever hoped it would. I can only say that the project has taught me that it is better to heal loudly than to suffer in silence.
Ashley Morgan Kincaid is a dedicated Communications Specialist with 10+ years in graphic design, marketing, brand management, internal/external communications, social media management, web management, editorial media relations, advertising, and public relations. In her free time, she enjoys studying typography, illustrating, photography, and hiking. To view her portfolio, check out her website or follow her on Instagram.