Healing From a Dysfunctional Southern Family Through Art



Jeanine Wiggins was born in Jacksonville, FL where she lived most of her childhood. 

In 1981, she moved to South Florida where she attended two gifted programs. In 1981 she attended the Center for the Expressive Arts.   The following year, she attended The Performing and Visual Arts Center, which was a very competitive program that evolved into an Arts high school.  She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelors of Fine Art.  She’s been in several shows over the years and has had two one-person shows, all in Florida. She was also nominated and accepted into Who’s Who of American Women.

Through all of her successes, she suffered from hypo-mania and PTSD, which was not accurately diagnosed until 2010 with her current psychiatrist, who also helped her to get disability.

I can’t handle stress anymore and my memory is horrible. But, the trauma I suffered as a child and young woman may also have created the situation where I hid in my room when not at school and just drew, read and day dreamed with the company of my clock radio. I knew if I could get through high school and go to college, I could escape my insane mother, brother and vindictive, drug addict sister who dropped out of school in the eighth grade because she was doing a lot of drugs, especially Quaaludes. The art programs also saved my life. They kept me in school.

Through my faith in a creator, my artwork and journaling, I’ve been able to move past the fear and anger I felt growing up and then the anger towards myself for stupid choices (like marrying my ex-husband who was abusive in every way, except actually hitting me).

When I truly forgave everyone for everything, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. I’m much more at peace now. But my fight or flight mode is shot. To much stress sending me into tremors from anxiety. I also spend a lot of time alone, which is also a symptom of PTSD. But also it’s just what an artist does.

I continue to paint and write. My heart still feels heavy sometimes, but I keep trying to move past it. Slowly, I believe I’m making progress.
— J.W.