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Animated series 'Triggered' features Kentucky women suffering from PTSD

This is a frame from the animated series 'Triggered' depicting an aspect of PTSD.
courtesy Jessica Mathis
This is a frame from the animated series 'Triggered' depicting an aspect of PTSD.

A Kentucky writer has created a collection of animated stories depicting women dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

The award-winning series is raising awareness of PTSD and is being featured in Mental Health film festivals around the world. 

   Jessica Mathis is a writer, producer, and director with a background in comedy and journalism. She created the animated project to raise awareness and empathy about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She calls the disorder a psychological injury that impacts brain function. 

“It’s when your consciousness experiences something shocking. And it could be something different for everyone. It could be a car wreck. It could be domestic violence in a relationship. It could be childhood abuse. It could be growing up with a narcissistic parent where it was always about them and you’re taught that you don’t matter. It’s just something that trains your consciousness or shocks it instantly to respond to your environment differently,” said Mathis.

This is a frame from the animated series Triggered.
courtesy Jessica Mathis
This is a frame from the animated series Triggered.

 In the project, Mathis focused on ten women from Kentucky who had been diagnosed with PTSD. She interviewed each woman extensively and then developed short animations telling their stories. She named the collection: Triggered. 

“And the reason it’s called Triggered is because that is the word used to describe when a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has experienced something that activates the trauma that’s stored inside them and can completely change your frame of mind in an instant. It could be a smell, it can be a sound, it could be the way somebody is speaking to you. But that is what led to calling the project, Triggered,” explained Mathis.

Mathis said each animated story deals with a different aspect of PTSD. In one episode, Mathis said the woman in the story recalls being belittled, gaslighted, drugged, and taken advantage of by her boyfriend. 

 Mathis said in another scene, the woman described the process her therapist used to help her cope when she’s triggered.

A frame from the series Triggered depicts one woman's journey with PTSD.
courtesy Jessica Mathis
A frame from the series Triggered depicts one woman's journey with PTSD.

   The 45-year-old Mathis was inspired to produce the collection of short animations because of her journey of healing from PTSD. She said there’s also another reason she felt this series was necessary. 

“Most people think that PTSD is something that only affects war veterans or people who’ve seen combat. That is simply not true. That’s why I wanted to create something that was more about civilians," said Mathis.

 Dr. Christal Badour is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky.  She said PTSD is a disorder that can affect a wide range of people.

“ It can affect children, adults, all sorts of people. People all over our country are diagnosed every year. Thousands of people each year including judges and police officers, homemakers, teachers. It really runs the gamut of people.” 

The project, said Jessica Mathis started with a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, an organization that promotes positive social change by supporting feminist expression in the arts. Avery Guess, grant program manager at KFW said Jessica Mathis has been a multiple grantee on a variety of projects. Guess is especially inspired by the series Triggered. 

“It has won accolades. It’s been named an official selection at multiple film festivals. It’s still touring. It’s an honor just to see it happening," said Guess. 

The series has been screened in the 2023 Reel Recovery Film Festival in Los Angeles, and film festivals based in Chicago and Australia. It received three Telly Awards which recognize outstanding work in video.

Kentucky writer and producer Jessica Mathis spent a year and a half so far working on the series Triggered.
courtesy Jessica Mathis
Kentucky writer and producer Jessica Mathis spent a year and a half so far working on the series Triggered.

 While Mathis is honored by the awards, she said she’s most proud of the women involved and what it took for them to tell their stories. 

“It took so much courage from everyone involved. Each of us underwent years of hard work on ourselves. Really, the award here for me is when these women get excited alongside me. And when these women talk about how they feel validated or heard. 

Jessica Mathis plans to expand her work with 'Triggered' in hopes of developing a documentary.
Here's a link where you can access
the animations.
https://triggerstories.com/

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Cheri is a broadcast producer, anchor, reporter, announcer and talk show host with over 25 years of experience. For three years, she was the local host of Morning Edition on WMUB-FM at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Cheri produced and hosted local talk shows and news stories for the station for nine years. Prior to that, she produced and co-hosted a local talk show on WVXU, Cincinnati for nearly 15 years. Cheri has won numerous awards from the Public Radio News Directors Association, the Ohio and Kentucky Associated Press, and both the Cincinnati and Ohio chapters of the Society for Professional Journalists.
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