Thriving with Severe PTSD Induced Anxiety
By Arielle Spring
Life Coach and Author Arielle Spring, who published her vulnerable memoir titled “When Birds Sing: My Journey from Trauma to Triumph” by Arielle Spring this year. Arielle shares her personal story of PTSD and her healing and thriving from trauma.
Suffering severe trauma at an early age and through my adult years led me to a path of bad choices and mental health issues. It even led me to a state of homelessness. However, now as an adult I know I had an acute case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) brought on by significant trauma events.
When I was 16 years old, I got sexually assaulted by my boss’ husband (I did a work/school program). Just months later, I went out on a date with a new guy in the adjoining neighborhood and he picked up two other guys and proceeded to drive me out to a desolate area of town where all three of them sexually assaulted me. These horrifying traumas caused me to suffer from PTSD and amped up my already high anxiety.
My PTSD induced anxiety continued to drive me to make poor choices throughout my twenties and thirties. In my late twenties I married someone that would change my life and make the PTSD and anxiety I was already suffering from increase significantly. The marriage was extremely abusive on every level. I needed all my strength to leave after four long years. What helped me leave was continuing to work at an incredible job and networking with people who believed in me and helped me to see through the power and control maze to my true self. I put a safety plan of escape together. I executed that plan and left him!
After I gathered the courage and strength to leave, I thought I’d be well again if I took 6 months to abstain from dating. However, when I got into my next relationship, my PTSD anxiety came back with a vengeance. I stayed in the relationship for almost three years. After I got the courage to leave, I continued getting into one dangerous relationship after another as I had deluded myself that the relationships made me whole. I did not understand that I was using relationships to medicate my severe anxiety.
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.
I feel so broken-hearted seeing how you are in a vicious cycle of medicating your PTSD through relationships and alcohol. I just want to hold you and look at you and tell you that you are so strong and worthy of a better life. I would like to see you radiate the light that is still within you. How I recommend you embark on this better life is to start observing the behaviors and patterns of thinking that perpetuate you to medicate your PTSD, such as getting into abusive relationships, drinking, etc. Then you can begin to add behaviors that empower your mind, body and spirit to thrive.
Self-Care Journey Embarkation
When I left my abusive ex, I became a vegan and walked religiously on the beach (16 miles/week). I implemented more fresh juices into my diet (after my long beach walks) and also began swimming regularly. Even though all this self-care was excellent, I still medicated my PTSD through drinking excessively. I still didn’t realize that I had PTSD and needed further help from professionals. When I moved across the country and got into another unhealthy relationship, I began getting panic attacks. One day, after a horrific alcohol- induced panic attack, a lightbulb went off and I realized that I had to quit drinking. So, by the grace of God and my determination, I quit alcohol cold turkey. From that day I never drank again.
My dear Arielle, I want to reflect that you have not realized all the things that you are already doing to take better care of yourself because you are still not seeing the true you when you look into the mirror, but instead simply see all your faults and shortcomings when you look at yourself. But the fact is that you are already into so many alternative healthcare practices that you are oblivious to from not being able to see your true self. Remember when you went on the eight-day fruit and vegetable juice fast. Do you also realize that you focus on your health through taking supplements and not eating mainstream fast food or junk food, but instead making healthy choices by shopping at a natural food market where you buy fresh fruits and vegetable, hormone, antibiotic and chemical free meats and dairy? You ARE a light to the world, and I want you to reflect on that reality daily, Arielle.
Choosing Natural Solutions to Combat PTSD
As I sought help from naturopathic doctors, I honed in on a treatment regimen designed for PTSD by taking supplements containing adaptogens, amino acids, and certain vitamins which help control high levels of cortisol. Cortisol is created by your adrenal glands going into fight or flight mode. Rhodiola, ashwagandha, cordyceps, glycine, B-6, pantothenic acid, PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) and Asian ginseng; along with pharma Gaba, melatonin and phosphatidylserine, as the day wains, continue to lower my cortisol levels so that by bedtime my nervous system is ready to sleep. I recommend staying in a strict routine with how you take these supplements. I now sleep 7-9 hours most every night which is an amazing improvement over how I slept in the past. These are natural supplements and not pharmaceutical drugs of any kind.
My exercise routine includes swimming using pool weights, beach walking, elliptical, bicycle doing upper body weights, and gyrokinesis. You may not have heard of gyrokinesis, but it is the gyrotonic method exercise without the machines (using your own body weight). Gyrokinesis is a sacred body movement where the entire muscular body has been stimulated, stretched, extended, contracted, and wrung out leaving it capable of better supporting the skeletal body. I find that it lowers my PTSD induced anxiety exponentially because it combines breathwork with body movement that allows you to live in the entire space meant for you.
I also do schema therapy now to go deeper and deeper into understanding how I developed parts of myself to cope with the PTSD and how I can re-parent them which then strengthens my ‘healthy adult’. I work with someone who is a brilliant therapist and I value our time working together. This therapy, combined with all the other things I had already been doing has soared me into my true self.
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 are:
1. Doing schema therapy (involves looking at life traps (schemas created by trauma) and re-parenting child parts. (child parts will evolve sometimes which can lead to a calming effect in the body)
2. Taking supplements designed to lower cortisol throughout the day to balance adrenal glands leading to calming and balance.
3. Taking supplements starting in early afternoon that allow my cortisol levels to be where they need to be for sound sleep.
4. Sound wave chiropractic to align atlas so that my nervous system can function optimally.
5. Swimming and pool exercises with weights 1-3/week 6. Here are some amazing exercises to re-set the vagus nerve which are calming and re-centering for the emotional and physical body. (The name “vagus” comes from the Latin term for “wandering”. This is because the vagus nerve wanders from the brain into organs in the neck, chest, and abdomen. It is also known as the 10th cranial nerve or cranial nerve X. Medicalnewstoday.com
7. Beach walking (re-ionizes the body and calms the nervous system).
8. Gyrokinesis (‘wrings out’ tension and stress in the body by combining breathwork and spiraling body movements for calming the nervous system, muscle strengthening and stretching, range of motion and ‘taking up one’s entire space’.
9. Elliptical machine for lymph flow and general strengthening of muscles
10. Light weights for conditioning of the muscles which leads to dopamine release and ‘feeling good’
11. Eating right for your body type
12. Eating organic, chemical free foods
13. Drinking pure water
Which of the above resonates with you? Are you willing to be ‘in charge’ of your well-being and life? If so, try some of the holistic wellness tips and techniques suggested above but design it for you – what your mind/body/spirit needs are. And remember – never give up – Keep going! You can heal from PTSD induced anxiety.
About the Author:
Arielle Spring, author of “When Birds Sing: My Journey from Trauma to Triumph,” is a living example of a phoenix rising. Her idyllic life spiraled out of control for over 20 years due to experiencing many traumas. In her darkest moment, she saw a light to freedom and began her ascent to wholeness. Spring’s openness, insight, and warm empathetic heart has inspired her to share her story. A health and life coach, Arielle also has served as a group facilitator for abuse and trauma victims. Visit: https://www.ariellespring.net/