In Memoriam and in awareness of all the veterans who have given their lives for us to live freely. And for all the veterans suffering today, remembering their friends and family who didn’t make it home.
Before I write anything else, I want you to be aware that GiveAnHour.org is an organization that locates psychotherapists willing to give free treatment to veterans and their families. I am a volunteer for them and happy to give service in this way.
“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” ~ George Santayana
So many veterans are still fighting a war inside themselves every single day. Many are suffering wit the symptoms of PTSD, fighting the urge to do violence to themselves or others, waking up every night with nightmares, staying in bed with panic and depression, having terrifying flashbacks and fighting to make it through the day every day; pretending to be “normal” in front of loved ones often to just not scare them; sometimes abandoning wives and children in a mis-directed attempt to protect them from themselves.
Let’s remember those who fought for our country and lost their lives. But let’s also SEE the brave veterans all around us today and every day who are still struggling.
We lose 22 vets per day to suicide. 22! That’s an epidemic. And speaks to the horrors that the service men and women are experiencing. And the hopelessness they feel during service and upon return.
I’ve been a yoga teacher for over 15 years and did a training through Connected Warriors, which is free yoga for veterans and their families (and friends too). Judy Weaver, who founded the organization and was doing the training says that PTSD is mis-named. It should be called “Post Traumatic Stress.” It’s not a “Disorder.” It’s a physical event that can become a psychological event. It’s an expected reaction to trauma.
PTS is a physical injury. Brain scans reveal cortisol inflammation in the brain, which is related to long-term memory loss. Trauma is also realted to the Abdominal Brain. The psoas goes into flexion and the spinal erectors go into extension. You end up with compression in L3, L4, S1 which is why many trauma survivors experience low back pain.
The body is hijacked and the primitive brain is taking charge.
So what helps veterans reduce trauma and heal from PTS?
- Mindfulness practices create a bridge between the two hemispheres of the brain.
- Trauma conscious yoga (look for an informed instructor, not just any yoga class)
- Psychotherapy / talk therapy
- Hypnosis with someone informed about working with trauma (If you’re local to Broward, that would be me).
- Being part of a community. Get connected with other veterans or any community you feel comfortable in.
- Spirituality practices, knowing and increasing awareness that you went through war to protect others.
If you’re a Family Member
- Support the veteran in increasing healing practices.
- Remember you’re not alone in this journey. Increase your community involvement and get connected with other family members of Vets.
- Learn about PTS and how it’s affecting your loved one. Click Here to read more about this in depth.
- Set appropriate limits when necessary. Make a safety plan if physical violence is possible during a flashback or PTS episode.
- Practice healthy exercise and mindfulness techniques yourself.
- Get help if you need to. Psychotherapy can help you take care of yourself as well as increase your knowledge about your loved one.
Yours in health,