Make our schools
WINTER SPRING 2018
Michelle Lynn Back
Wellness is wellness is happiness
My last stand against PTSD
Please we need our schools safe
Personal Testimony By
Michelle Lynn Back
By Bill Edson
Wholeness is Wellness is Happiness…my last stand against PTSD
By Bill Edson
My Post Traumatic Stress storyline is not unlike many others. I am a combat veteran, and during my tour serving in Iraq in 2005-2006, I was exposed to the worst that humanity can dish out. Horrifying death and violent oppression, indiscriminate destruction, imminent acts of violence while all the time being under constant threat of attack and dealing with personal feelings of emptiness and loneliness. That is not to say that I did not embrace my responsibilities as the task force Senior Medic of the Brigade Combat Team. I loved the job and the responsibilities that came with it. When asked, I will almost always state that it was the best job that I ever had. It was a remarkable duty assignment, and, I don’t regret having served my country during such a difficult mission.
Changing The Face of PTSD
However, like so many others, my service did not come without lasting personal effect. Initially, I thought that I dodged the PTSD bullet. I felt like I had deflected the trauma effectively and was going to be okay going forward. The first sign that something wasn’t right was the moment that we arrived home. I expected to feel a sense of elation, jubilant and victorious, much like you would see in the old films of war heroes coming home after World War 2. I didn’t feel any of that. Of course, I was happy to be home and with my family again, but there was no joy. Instead, I walked off the plane into a world of trepidation and transitional insecurities.
It wasn’t long before I began to experience all the classic symptoms when suffering from the invisible wounds of PTSD; disconnection, isolation, insomnia, anger, hypervigilance, dreams, and flashbacks…and later, depression and anxiety. . I did seek out and receive some very good mental health counseling and it helped me to discover and apply effective cognitive coping skills that would keep me functional within the realm of my family and productive within society. Yet, I was still silently suffering. The enemy from the battlefield in Iraq had followed me home and continued the attacks on me in the forms of chronic depression and anxiety. (I still, to this day, refer to my depression and anxiety as “my enemy”). Those issues began to cascade themselves in other debilitating ways and dramatically affected my overall well-being. Once active and vibrant, I became reserved and sedentary. This all perpetuated itself into greater issues and struggles with my physical health.
Sometimes the obvious is easily overlooked, like trying to see a forest through its own trees. For me, it had been eleven years since my return from war and I finally came to such a realization that I have been sitting around waiting too long, doing much of nothing, and expecting this misery to end all on its own.
the issues, were not really the problematic focus, but instead, it was a part of a larger problem. I heal Instead of simply looking at the fact that I needed to lose weight to better my health, or find treatment for my depression and anxiety, I realized that it had to be more than reactive response to my physical symptoms.
What if my weight gain, and subsequent health and mental health issues, were not really the problematic focus, but instead, it was a part of a larger problem. I decided to look past my obvious poor health and reflect upon my life’s wellness, as a whole. Remember not being able to see the forest through its trees? Well, by focusing on the symptomatic ‘trees’ that I was experiencing, I was missing the big ‘forest’ of my overall wellness. So, I began to break it down in this way;
There are five basic parts of my whole wellness, or my “wholeness”;
Relational – The relationships of which you are involved and your abilities to engage, develop, and foster genuine and meaningful connections with others that are positive and productive.
Physical – Your personal health and fitness, and the habits and behaviors that define your physical being.
Emotional – Your state of emotional mindset, mental health, and level of emotional intelligence.
Vocational – Your place of purposeful richness and security. Being provisionally productive in a way that makes you feel secure and in a good place.
Spiritual - Your place of spirit and soulful priority. This is where the heart of a warrior, the grace of compassion, and your ideals of a greater creator reside. It is the intangibles that so often keep you going through the most difficult times.
Admittedly, I was a little uncomfortable with this type of macro-dissection, but it was finally time to do something. I was getting sick and tired of being sick and tired, so, I began to take a good long hard truthful look at myself to discover real self-improvement. Because with self-improvement will come self-empowerment.
As a broken person, I needed to know what was broken so I could fix it. It may be a difficult process to admit our brokenness, but it is necessary to cope, to heal, to strengthen, and to overcome our challenges. Simultaneously, I believe the other key component for me to act, was my realization that this crap was not going away anytime soon, if ever. Just hoping that it will at some point dissipate or disappear was not realistic. Like anything thing else, real transformation requires real change. Hoping and wishing is not a strategy, action is the root of real change.
The key was to genuinely self-reflect and take a hard and honest look and discern where you stand within your own wholeness. If you are not willing to be completely honest when it comes to yourself, then likely, you are not willing to do the hard work that it will take to improve and you will remain stagnant within your own affliction.
So, in my case, after honestly reflecting upon my five wellness categories this is what I realized:
Relationally, my marriage was solid and secure but the level of our intimacy and open communication had diminished substantially. We were more like roommates who loved each other rather than life-mates in love. Outside my marriage, I virtually had no friends or social life. My children and their spouses were my network of friends, and my ‘real’ friends were few, and far between…none of them were local or easily accessible. You may have some support in those distant connections, but you remain isolated, so nothing really changes.
Physically, I was a mess. I had become the ‘ever-inflating’ man. I had gained 80 pounds on this ten-year rollercoaster of dieting and binge-eating that found me in a state of physical disarray and sedentary dysfunction. Sure, I had arrived home with some physical challenges because of serving in combat within very austere and toxic conditions, but it was my PTSD that exacerbated the physical challenges into serious health issues. Beyond my obesity, I had high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, hip and back pain, and significant swollenness of my feet and ankles and hands (which is sign of pulmonary insufficiency). At, 53 years old, I had become a fat old man sitting in my chair watching television and eating my life away. in a comfortable quality of life. Yet, while I was a functional employee, and my job was producing good income, the work environment was challenging, and this did diminish from my overall wellness. Yet, I was very satisfied that I could provide my wife with a comfortable lifestyle that she so much deserved. Perhaps, it waMy emotional state was in lock-step with my physical state. I was quietly oppressed by my bouts of depression and anxiety, and that effected my moods and my happiness. I was generally living in a state of emotional malaise and that simply was not living a life that felt meaningful or satisfying. My declining health and body image impacted my self-esteem and my energy levels and self-motivation remained flat, and so, I was generally unhappy most of the time.
Vocationally, I was mostly in a good place, not perfect, but solid. My wife and I both had good jobs and our combined-income allowed us to sustas my Spiritual self that was causing me the most turbulence. I discovered that my spirit is my true foundation of my overall wellness. I am a very spiritual person and have a strong Christian faith belief system that has always propped me up during times of personal challenge and duress. As it had turned out, the progression of my traumatic combat experiences had dissected my own faith to a point of disconnection. This disconnect had lasted for nearly eleven years despite many efforts to regain it within a church-based support system that I had once spiritually thrived.
When taking this 30,000-foot view of my entire wholeness, my deficiencies were clear. I think it also became quite evident that my issues were not merely five separate issues but connected categories that synergistically influence and impact one another. A deficit in one area led to a deficiency in another that led to a ripple-effect breakdown of my overall wellness. Conversely then, a reverse positive effect would see a corrective action in one category help to create subsequent healing and resolution within the other categories, thus empowering restorative personal wholeness.
But let me say LOUD and CLEAR, initially this process was NOT easy, it was NOT fun, and it was NOT fast. It took real devotion, true resolve, and self-discipline. It required goals and a realistic vision that drove results. It took patience and a warrior spirit to fight against my “enemy’. It took an open mind to understand that victory comes in small daily wins, and it is the cumulation of those small wins that equate victory in a transformed life.
Indeed, real transformation requires real change. So, having a new perspective, plan, and optimistic attitude is critical. For me, it started with my family and my Spiritual self. My family held me accountable to my commitment, and my spiritual wellness category was the essential missing element that restored my fortitude to win this battle. Miraculously, a new church had opened just minutes from our home and it provided the loving atmosphere that helped me renew my Christian Faith. That restoration gave me a sense of hope and personal value that motivated me to begin a fitness and healthy eating program, it encouraged me to reaffirm our marriage, and it provided me the desire and purpose to be social again. .
I found myself having a more confident mindset that had me doubting less and seeing things in more positive light. Emotionally, I became stronger and could now push back against the intrusiveness of my depression and anxiety. I now had a weapon to fight my enemy…and that weapon was ME.
In the first seven months of this process, an incredible personal transformation has occurred. I now run 3 to 5 miles a day, at least five days per week. I have lost 70 pounds and have restored my health. I feed my soul with things that I love, and I am devoted to daily self-reflection and prayer. My wife and I have improved our relationship and enjoy being and doing things together again. The new church has introduced some budding friendships, and an outlet to share my experiences by leading a fellowship group with new and renewed believers.
And, although this sounds like a much improved personal situation, and it is, don’t be fooled. I still struggle with my own anxiety and depression. The biggest difference is that I am strong enough now to push back against those challenges. To lean into them and use them as motivation against themselves. I know that I can overcome those challenges, and with that knowledge and confidence, I am now winning, and that empowers me even more. So, despite my affliction, I am now in a good space…the best in over a decade. Why? Because I discovered that my Wholeness is Wellness is Happiness.
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everyone, regardless of severity can reap the benefits.
Michelle now dedicates most of her time to humanitarian activity, is currently working on her fourth book and planning to write many more concerning true stories of abuse, mental illness and recovery. Since the release of her first book in her autobiography, Cursed, those from all over the world have come to her to tell their stories. She prays to write to educate the world on the truth concerning those effected and how to help them. As a holistic nutritionist and personal trainer, she also plans to publish books on nutrition, health and wellness. View all of her books and projects at www.michellelynnback.com
Michelle grew up with her single mother who had been brain damaged in a car accident when she was five years old. The accident left her mother addicted to pain medicine, alcohol and without feeling for her daughter. From this, Michelle was physically, mentally and sexually abused for years. She ended up living out the rest of her childhood incarcerated in group homes and girl schools.From being forced into the psychological evaluation and treatment from an early age, Michelle has witnessed first hand, the misdiagnosis, over medication and under treatment that goes on in the field of psychiatric medicine. After years of bad relationships and mistakes from a negative past mindset, she took it into her own hands to do something different. Now, this treatment is needed more than ever in order to teach the masses to know how to help themselves and others. The more who are educated, the fewer who will have to suffer.
Now more than ever the effects are being witnessed around the world through suicide, homelessness and depression statistics, not only from those who have witnessed trauma but also by their children. For too long, too many have suffered because there has not been enough motivation in the psychology field to treat instead of medicate and rehash the trauma. Studies now show this form of treatment, that has been mainstream for decades, as unbeneficial and actual harmful to the psyche.
Anyone who has been through traumatic events that scar the mind to feel its effects on a daily basis. Combat soldiers, rape victims and those who suffered years of child abuse have been reported to be affected the most and there are so many, too many, out there waiting for help.
This is the mainframe of my work. Over the last decade I have read hundreds of studies, experimented with countless treatments and interviewed everyone I could to find the patterns that lead to a healthy, happy mind. What works, what doesn’t, what drives a person to suicide or gives them a new lease on life. I honestly believe I learned more from the interviews with those affected by PTSD than any one research study.
What did you learn?
I’ve found that no one is the same as another with this disorder, but there is help for all. I have put together a self help book, incorporated into the third book of my autobiography called Blessings, Treating Your PTSD. This book reveals all the treatments I have personally studied, experimented with and have used to help others deal with and recover from the painful thought processes brought on by the disorder. There is a variety of treatments for all the different associated affects and disorders soeveryone, regardless of severity can reap the benefits.
Michelle now dedicates most of her time to humanitarian activity, is currently working on her fourth book and planning to write many more concerning true stories of abuse, mental illness and recovery. Since the release of her first book in her autobiography, Cursed, those
Michelle Lynn Back <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Michelle Lynn Back: Why I Write
With degrees in psychology, kinesiology, nutrition and education, Michelle Lynn Back has been a passionate researcher and proponent for PTSD for over a decade. Teaching the subject to middle and high school students and counseling many who deal with the pain on their own or live with a parent or guardian with the disorder.
Changing The Face Of PTSD
The power of my time with the indigenous Waitaha and the thread that ran through this New Zealand trip fell into perfect alignment with who I am… Where I have been… And what I have chosen to do with it all.
Home… Family… Do No Harm!
I shared my story for the first time hiding behind the shirt tails of Junebug, the leading character of my first novel by the same name. From this vantage point, I was given the space to watch the story of my life play out as an adult and really listen and see her journey from all angles. I could see her struggles standing beside her amazing wisdom. The experiences into different realms or realities, interactions with beings outside of what we have made solid is where she gets her truths.
You see, my journey through childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse fuel the passion that has kept me moving forward. I was in therapy and drugged for 30 years. On the outside, you would think she had a great life. I owned a successful salon. Married an amazing man… an actor. We had two beautiful daughters. What the outer picture didn’t show is what happened when I turned off the lights and locked the doors to this thriving business. The mask came off. I hurt all over. Couldn’t keep any food inside. My body was dying. My mind was caving in on itself. I went home and slept and got up the next day to do it all over again. Sometimes. As I suffered those that loved me and that I claimed to love suffering.
Deepak Chopra, my teacher, and mentor said… “Pain happens but suffering is a choice.”
This became my motto for finding freedom. I was angry. I was incensed and I sat with it. How many years is it going to take for me to breathe my first unlabored breath? As I rise I look around and see the multitude of others chained in the same prison. My promise to them was and is… I’m coming back in with a map and a flashlight.
An interaction with a Medicine Man in Baltimore spoke to me about the magic of woman. The Creator uses a woman as the vessel for the creation of life. She chose a woman as the guardian over Her in Her most vulnerable state. We forgot. We forgot Our magic. We forgot Her power. In remembering… Woman finds respect. Respect for self and respect for each other. In remembering we acquire wisdom… The wisdom of the GrandMothers??
The Medicine Man told me of the tribune of Grand Mothers. Each choice made by the elders was sent through the women for approval. If they deem the proposal unsound back to the drawing board they go. Balance.
A shaman in Ireland spoke to me about the children. He spoke to me about woman’s power and the importance of home. Home… What is that? Not a house. Home… which I felt in my bones for the first time with the Waitaha. Welcome home… the first words I heard.
The shaman spoke of the need for a woman to step into what I call MOM ENERGY and heal ourselves. Rid ourselves of cancer that undermines our lives and the lives of those that our choices affect. It ripples out. It ripples throughout our lineage… backward and forwards. Like a hummingbird. The rules don’t apply.
PTSD is the cancer of the mind. It is cancer that stealthily winds its cells around and into every choice we make from underneath… We don’t know it’s there until it starts affecting the outside.
These threads that run through time as cycles… Are a chain reaction to the blips on our timeline. That point when an outside choice was made that had an adverse effect on your programming. You began to make different choices. And so did the reality around you.
PTSD keeps us in the backward flow of reaction. A reaction that never gains momentum. When in this state of reaction, we are surviving… but merely functioning. We are on guard and responding to what is showing up versus the forward motion of action. The state of action is like a game of chess. Your senses are blazing and you are at attention. Taking your time to consider what you want and how you’re going to get it. What is acceptable? Who do I want to be? How do I want to be Remembered?
PTSD is the call to remember. It is the pull of those parts of us that have been left behind. A fragment of your soul, trapped, living in the loop of that same experience over and over again. At that point of the blip… that point where… in reaction… we decide that we are going to do something different—we are going to create a new reality.
The medical world calls it dissociation. I call it REALITY HOPPING.
Astral travel and dissociation? The same thing. One is a choice and the other a reaction… Today. It was a choice the first time. In all my studies, I hear no talk about where we might go when we leave our bodies. You don’t just disappear. You travel. You reality hop.
Science says that every possibility for every moment is happening all at the same time.
As a student I can say I hate it. School that is. Kids are taking it too far. Buying guns, taking them to school and killing each other.
Most students just want to go to class, study and go on to college. They don’t want to risk their lives every day as they move from class to class. We all want an education, but for what price?
Our schools are not safe. Currently their is a limited amount of school officers. Sometimes the officers are out numbered over a thousand to one. Districts around the country are looking into stepping up the amount of school security officers. This increase can also potentially prevent this horrible tragedy from happening by better relations and communicating with the students.
Being able to move on kids and their parents need to feel safe while their children are on school grounds in order to receive a proper education.
Sadly children around our country are being traumatized by what they see and experience at school.
It is ultimately up to us as parents to educate, advise and protect our children.
Will this have parents buying bullet proof vests for their children to wear. This is just a random opinion from a random writer.
As well as this controversial issue, their is an issue of children not receiving lunch if they dont have the money. What kind of adult working with children would embarrass them to washing, wiping tables and not giving them a lunch tray?
Food to ponder.
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