Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: 8 Holistic Ways to Thrive With Severe PTSD-Induced Anxiety by Arielle Spring
The first post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) inducing event in my life was when I was assaulted by my boss’s husband while on the job at the age of 16. The anxiety began when I was told it was safe to go back to work after the assault. Looking back, I can see that I handled the event with a lot of maturity but when I was made to go back to work, I began to doubt my ability to make wise decisions. I began having daily flashbacks of the event and took on the responsibility as if I had caused it to happen. I began "running from my life" to avoid the feelings of shame, but only understood this fact through exploration in therapy years later.
In the same year as my first trauma event, I went out on what I thought was a date with a new guy in school. The date became a nightmare when he picked up two other guys from our school and ended up in an abandoned field with me being sexually assaulted multiple times. I never told anyone for 15 plus years of this second trauma-induced event. I lived in a veil of shame for that entire time and only through writing my memoir and researching that the boy had committed statutory rape on a 13-year-old a few years after my assault, did I begin to step out of the shame.
My initial traumatic events occurred before PTSD was a diagnosis, therefore I had no treatment. My life spiraled for over two decades as a result.
Have you experienced trauma and are suffering from any or all the following?
- physical pain
- nightmares or flashbacks
- depression or anxiety
- withdrawal or isolation
- emotional numbing
- guilt and shame
I suffered from everything on the list above for over two decades as I spiraled into a pit of darkness and despair, where I ended up not being able to work, being financially dependent on my parents, isolated from social settings, unable to drive, and barely eating. I deluded myself that I could get better on my own and was oblivious to my decline. It was as though I was in a glass room and could see outside that everyone was going about their lives, but I was locked inside that room and did not have the key to get out!
After I managed to graduate from high school, my symptoms began to escalate as I went further into escape from my life by marrying someone that I did not know as a boyfriend let alone a potential husband. Despite my symptoms, I was able to land a great job, and that accomplishment thwarted me from seeing I was in the grips of PTSD. Things slowly started to erode from that point and by the time I was 24 years old I would find myself jobless and homeless.
My PTSD-induced anxiety continued to drive me to make poor choices throughout my 20s and 30s involving suffering in abusive marriages and a dangerous relationship to self-medicating my trauma. Because I never sought help for the initial onset of PTSD due to the horrific traumas I experienced as a teen, I got in a vicious cycle of medicating my PTSD, through relationships, for many years. When I looked into the mirror one day and truly saw myself as I was and not from a judgment or delusional place, I stepped into a journey of loving myself enough to stop the dysfunctional behaviors I had developed as a result of untreated PTSD.
Choosing Natural Solutions to Combat PTSD
People might think it would be a lot easier to pop a pill to treat their PTSD; however, I have learned that PTSD is something one must manage or co-exist with. I simply remind myself to focus on my well-being. My body/mind/spirit are my responsibility, and it is up to me to be my own advocate for my health. This mindset allows me to soar higher and higher.
Tips to Thriving With Rampant PTSD
- Doing schema therapy, which involves looking at life traps (schemas created by trauma) and re-parenting child parts.
- Taking supplements designed to lower my cortisol throughout the day.
- Taking supplements starting in early afternoon that allow my cortisol levels to be where they need to be for restful, peaceful sleep.
- Sound wave chiropractic to align atlas so that my nervous system can function optimally.
- Swimming and pool exercises with weights one to three times a week (also good for nervous system).
- Beach walking (re-ionizes the body and calms the nervous system).
- Gyrokinesis, which "wrings out" tension and stress in the body by combining breathwork and spiraling body movements for calming nervous system, muscle strengthening, range of motion and "taking up one’s entire space."
- Elliptical and light weights.
PTSD does not improve if you do nothing and like many mental health illnesses, it will tell you that you’re fine and do not need help. So, getting help is essential to break the downward spiral that PTSD creates.
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