This morning I turned on Entertainment News, and found out that Kesha, the pop star checked herself into rehab for an eating disorder. What I found even more intriguing, is her mother, Pebe Sebert checked herself into that same rehab center alongside her daughter for post-traumatic stress disorder. I thought this was a brave and totally admirable move. The National Library of Medicine defines post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you have gone through an extreme emotional trauma that involved the threat of injury or death. In the United States, physical assault and rape are the most common stressors causing PTSD in women, and military combat is the most common PTSD stressor in men (Prevention Magazine). Some events that can cause PTSD are, but not limited to:
- Sexual or Physical Abuse
- Domestic Abuse
- Death in the family
- Natural disaster
- Childhood neglect
Doctors are unsure why traumatic events cause PTSD in some people and not others. However, they do agree that your genes, emotions, and family settings might play a role. My, PTSD symptoms showed up immediately after a violent relationship ended; then it got worst after I went through the atrocities of being sex-trafficked. The symptoms stayed with me, for years. The trauma I incurred were both physical, and the threat of death; so my PTSD symptoms came in the form of recurring nightmares, cold sweats, rapid heart rate, crying fits, and even panic attacks. In fact, my panic attacks were so bad, that I would have to pull over to the side of the road to steady my breathing if I were driving. The thing that was most scary for me was I usually had no indication when these symptoms would take place, they would just pop up from out of nowhere. For the longest time I thought something was really wrong with me; I thought I was going crazy, and that there was nothing I could do about it. During this time, many people turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms however, after seeking mental health therapy I decided to try my hand at holistic alternative treatment. After working closely with my psychologist, and intensive research I finally found out what PTSD was, and how I could manage, and eventually heal from it.
The first thing my therapist wanted to do was prescribe me antidepressant medication. Antidepressant medications are psychiatric medications given to patients with depressive disorders to alleviate symptoms. I took them for a couple of months, and my PTSD symptoms dissipated. But I felt numb, and completely cold and stoic. I had insomnia, and splitting headaches. I felt, “fake.” I had no emotion whatsoever. The final straw was when a close friend told me her mother had passed away, and I looked at her with a straight face, and said, “Oh I’m sorry to hear about that, want to go grab something to eat?” All with a smile, yeah, I was completely numb and without emotion. Although, I no longer suffered from PTSD symptoms, I was not dealing with the real root of my issues either. I wanted to feel the full range of my emotions and be able to manage them, on my on. First and foremost, I do not recommend stopping your psychotropic medications without the advice, and authorization of a medical doctor. It could have serious side effects, and repercussions. I reached out to a local spiritual advisor for advice. I got more than I bargained for when she introduced me to, mind, body, and spirit wellness. She explained emotional health, the benefits, and how to achieve it. She went on to coach me on physical fitness, as it associates to the mind. I took up yoga, and meditation. For the first time, I wasn’t just working out for mere physical benefits. The benefits transcended to mental clarity, peace, and a heightened awareness. She urged me to allow my therapist to conduct hypnosis. The thought of going back to my source of trauma made me fearful. With hesitation I gave in to my therapist, and spiritual advisors request. To my surprise I was led way back to my childhood! Here I thought my PTSD started in my early adulthood, but the little girl in me was still there, waiting on me to embrace and heal her. She wanted me to tell her everything would be ok, that I was enough, and that I would never allow another person to hurt her ever again. I had to forgive myself, and let go of the guilt, blame, and shame; it has taken some time but I definitely have.
The power of forgiveness was also essential in healing my PTSD symptoms. The thought of forgiving those who have hurt me was preposterous. I looked at my spiritual guide, and life coach like she was crazy saying, “Forgive them? Really? Aren’t they the reason why I am here in the first place?” She followed up with, “Precisely, and by you forgiving them you release the anger, and take your life back.” I rolled my eyes, at her and swore all the way down the road. I had a hard time sleeping that night. I just couldn’t fathom how forgiving my abusers would free me, and help me feel better and live a full life. I thought it was a bunch of crap. Eventually I did forgive them for everything. You won’t believe the results! Almost immediately I felt the burden lifted. True forgiveness is in the heart; it takes more than simply stating, “I forgive you.” You have to release the person(s) you feel have wronged you from your mind, heart, and spirit. With the power of forgiveness I have taken my power back. I released all guilt, and shaming. I walk with my head high, and feel totally empowered.
My PTSD symptoms are no longer there. In fact, the child in me is happy, free, and no longer feels threatened. I can trust someone, without the feeling of paranoia; and my life is what I’d like to call normal now. PTSD is a crippling condition that can stagnate your progression in life. It prevents you from happiness, stability, peace, being able to trust others, and having a feeling of normalcy.
If you have experienced a traumatic event the first thing you should do is seek trauma focused cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy (because it affects those who are around you), medication (if prescribed), holistic treatment, and a life coach. All of these entities can restore you back to healthy functioning.