WISDOM WITHIN - May 2016 - Kansas City
Courage and Strength on the Path to Healing PTSD
By Suzette Scholtes
Susan arrived early for yoga class, placing her mat by the window where she could see the oak trees stand like sentinels. She was quiet but not aloof, confident but not arrogant. As we became friends, she surprised me with her story of surviving Hurricane Katrina. She shared that she had waited to abandon her home until the crisis had hit a tipping point. Then she and her young son loaded the car with their cats and a few possessions and hit the road.
“Truly, in the largest sense, this was one of the best things that happened to me,” Susan said. She said she was not making light of the tragic situation, and it took time to find a new place to live. It took time, she said, to calm the many emotions she was feeling. “Still, it was such a new beginning for us; it changed us from the inside out. Now, I take nothing for granted,” she said.
Susan said Katrina was tragic because so many people died. “Life was good for me, but it got even better,” she said. Susan practices mindfulness meditation, yoga, and takes good care of her health and family. She looks for the good and beauty in each new day.
About 10 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives with women twice as likely as men, the number reaching 5.2 million during the course of a given year. Symptoms include disruption to the mind, body, and brain characterized by hyper vigilance, emotional numbing, insomnia, anger, isolation, and depression.
“When I first met with the group of men and women soldiers, they were aloof and a bit hostile,” shared Sherry, who worked with vets for six months. They were required to attend her yoga class. “Gradually, I won them over, but it took time to build trust.” She said the most impactful changes in behavior came from the use of guided imagery or yoga nidra. Guided hypnosis also helped them.
When her young husband died suddenly in a car wreck, yoga student, Holly, relied upon yoga and classic therapy to manage her stress. “It took me years to heal the emotional wounds,” she said. “I almost had back surgery, but I realized my broken heart and my back pain were connected. The pain lifted.” Holly said imagery and easy yoga helped her the most as well as her therapist.
As Dr. Nancy Russell wrote in her Holistic Health Column in March, the human nervous system is complex. The brain dictates how you act, how you feel, what you are craving, and more. To “re-route” the neruopathways from negative to positive is found with meditation, exercise, yoga, therapy, supplements, and more. Then the body produces the “feel good” neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and others.
Even the “PTSD” from a fender bender or job loss requires courage to feel the complexity of our true feelings. A trusted friend, a therapist, or someone who listens to you from his/her heart is fundamental to healing.
“People are surprised when I share how Katrina served as a good experience for my growth and well-being,” Susan said. “But it is true. That silver lining is there if we look deep enough.”
Suzette Scholtes’ non-fiction writing won the prestigious “Writers Digest” award. Her passions are writing and yoga and she feels one needs a sense of humor for both. She founded The Yoga School of Therapeutics where she manages one of the regions prestige teacher training programs. 10400 W. 103rd Street,