I’m going to share some of my personal past with you today in a way that I never have.
While I have mentioned in a blog or two that my Dad died of a massive heart attack at age 58 (when I was 15), that’s not the whole story.
You see, in addition to (obviously) having heart disease, my Dad was also an alcoholic.
All that meant to me as a kid was a LOT of anger and resentment toward him, because I was too embarrassed to have friends over. Plus, he would pick fights with my Mom or brother when he was drunk.
What I didn’t realize (but do now as an adult in the health field) was my Dad was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
He was a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy during WWII, and I can’t even imagine the horrors he witnessed as his ship was hit in the South Pacific.
Unfortunately like many other vets in that time era, my Dad chose alcohol as his coping mechanism.
June is PTSD Awareness Month
I told you this story because June is PTSD Awareness Month, and while I’m not the biggest fan of most “awareness” events that do little to solve the problem at hand (and instead create a lot of hoopla), I think we all could use a reminder that PTSD is very real.
And it doesn’t just apply to people in the military! ANYONE who has witnessed or suffered a severe, shocking, or life-threatening event may develop PTSD.
That includes people who have experienced a natural disaster, abuse or assault, an accident, serious illness or the death of a loved one.
It’s more common than most people realize too.
Experts estimate that about 7 out of 10 US adults will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives, and about 20 percent of those will go on to develop PTSD.
More than flashbacks
A lot has been discovered about PTSD in the last several decades, and there is a whole lot more than flashbacks going on.
PTSD may also include severe anxiety, depression, angry outbursts, nightmares, insomnia, refusal to discuss the event, being tense and on edge, suicidal ideation and having frightening thoughts that come out of nowhere.
There are also physical issues too. Researchers have found that people with PTSD have abnormally high levels of certain stress hormones, especially adrenaline.
Chronically elevated levels of stress hormones can wreak havoc in the gut, ruin digestion and weaken immune function.
The go-to treatment for PTSD is usually medication—antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds. While these may be helpful in getting relief in some instances, in others they do absolutely no good at all!
Plus let’s not forget the side effects of psychotropic drugs that can include anger, suicidal or homicidal behavior, and even worsening anxiety or depression.
Help beyond medication
Thankfully there are other, safer ways to help with PTSD, the most obvious of which is psychotherapy with a skilled therapist.
Many therapists have expressed that cognitive behavioral therapy (examining thoughts to determine how they affect behaviors and self-perception) is very effective with PTSD sufferers.
In addition, here are some other ways to help bring about relief and healing:
Acupuncture can help balance the energy flows in the body and induce relaxation, both of which can help reduce anxiety and stress levels.
These include deep breathing, meditation, stretching, prayer and yoga.
Yoga in particular has an impact on the physical workings behind PTSD because it affects the vagus nerve—a large bundle of fibers that connects your brain and many internal organs, sending chemical messages and signals between the two.
Studies have shown that you can directly influence the type of hormonal and chemical signals sent from the body to the brain…so if the body is encouraged to relax, similar messages will also be sent to the brain!
Stress and nutritional support
Stress harms your gut microbiome, which in turn impacts your immune function, digestion and absorption of nutrients, so it’s essential to give your body the support it needs to overcome those harmful effects.
Plus, most of your body’s serotonin (your natural antidepressant) is manufactured in your gut, so a healthy gut is vital when battling depression!
The best place to start is with a nutritious diet of wholesome real foods, and avoiding sugar, refined carbs and processed foods. These are the foods that will give your body (and mind!) the nutrients they need to work properly.
Also helpful for mental health are Omega-3 fatty acids. Since our diets typically don’t provide nearly what we need (since most of us don’t eat fish 7 days a week), a top-notch fish oil formula like VitalMega-3 can provide health-supporting levels of these crucial fats, including the all-important EPA and DHA.
Plus taking care of your microbiome is a MUST! Nothing beats probiotic supplementation to help pave way for a healthy gut, and a full-spectrum formula like Super Shield is the perfect way to achieve this important, possibly life-saving goal.
Super Shield’s complete blend of 13 well-studied, potent probiotic strains has been helping to create happy guts and fewer digestive problems for people all over the world for the last 10 years!
Can’t argue with results!
Reach out to others
People with PTSD have also found it helpful to join PTSD or other mental health support groups or taking advantage of volunteer opportunities in the community.
If you or someone you love has PTSD, you are not beyond hope!
Take comfort in the fact that there are several ways to bring about healing and relief and do whatever you need to do to make that happen.
To your health,
Your story touched me deeply, Sherry, as I have had my own challenges with PTSD.
My “therapy” is writing music - it is a powerful form of meditation and emotional release. Powerful!
Although I can’t sing well at all, I try to record my songs as demos in the hope that someone with a gifted voice will hear them and want to do them the justice the Universe deserves. I say the “Universe” because I am finally old enough and humble ehough to realize that I’m just a channel and that the music is a blessed gift.
Anyway, about 2 years ago, in the throes of a PTSD episode, these lyrics were channeled through me, complete with the music, in an epiphanous healing release of personal angst . I hope you enjoy the message of the lyrics… and the music, and that you can hear and feel the Spiritual Joy that channeled through me during its creation.
If you wish to hear it, please listen free here:
Boy, did your story sound just like mine!!! My Dad was in the Army in WW!! in Germany—-Battle of the Bulge! I was 2 when he came home. He almost killed my mother so many times. He pushed her through the kitchen window, he strangled her and she fell backwards on a kitchen chair, he shot a gun through her bedroom window while she was in bed. It went in the wall just above her head. This all happened before I was in grade school. This went on till I was in 11th grade. I had ulcers my whole childhood. He would not let my mom drive a car or get a job. We had to live where we could walk to everything. I am so glad my mom had all 4 of us in Church, because God was the only one I could talk to. He has saved my life. He left us when I was a junior in high school. I prayed for that every day. He would not get help..He would scream and yell the war in his sleep. Anyway it took me forgiving him to have peace. He was gone though. I knew it was not his fault. Anyway, I know your pain. Hope you were able to forgive him too. Thank you.
A video (linked below) I was just listening to today, dealing with the healing of trauma, which I highly recommend for anyone who’s suffering from PTSD or CPTSD. What I really loved about it is that these are two men who truly understand trauma…and what’s necessary to free ourselves from its grip. I know this only because I’ve seen what has and has not worked for me over decades of my own healing process, and these men truly nailed it.
“Healing Trauma and Spiritual Growth: Peter Levine & Thomas Hübl” https://thomashuebl.com/healing-trauma-and-spiritual-growth-peter-levine-thomas-hubl/
I’m a sober alcoholic 27 yrs now and I grew up with an extremely abusive and debilitating alcoholic mother. I’m also a veteran so yes PTSD was a challenge for me. The cure? Great taste no pain and products that sherry b. makes took my pain down to nothing and made it soooooo much easier to cope and have a happy and balanced emotional life. Unfortunately my mother used food as an abuse tool and it took a real toll on my gut. Bless you all for sharing your truth as I am challenged by mine daily however because I did the work of good therapy, getting up and moving physically everyday, straightening up my food habits was CRUCIAL to staying well. Lots of love and healing I send to all of you!!!!!!!! Thank you for having the guts to speak and share. It helps us all heal so much faster!!!
That was a very touching story. I have similar memories of my parents and alcohol. My Dad was in the Navy and I don’t really know if he saw action as he was a diesel mechanic. But he definitely had odd behavior that I attributed to bipolar syndrome. Maybe PTSD would have been a possibility. I will look into this thank you for sharing.