Yoga Helps Many Living with PTSD

Contributor Cheyenne Forsythe (CF) shares his “Facebook conversation” with a high school buddy (NF) who knew nothing about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Their exchange started after Cheyenne posted a comment about this article: How Transcendental Meditation May Alleviate PTSD by Jerry Chautin.

Cheyenne Forsythe participated in the Ride 2 Recovery from Tampa to Jacksonville. He finds physical exercise helps him handle symptoms of PTSD.

NF: What’s PTSD? Forgive my ignorance…

CF: We’re doing a better job of getting the word out. It’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Rape victims, combat veterans, and anyone else who’s ever experienced anything where they thought their lives were in danger, are all highly susceptible to suffering from this disorder. Signs of it include a hyper-aroused flight or fight response, flash backs, trouble sleeping, irritability, substance abuse, isolating, homicidal or suicidal ideations, and/or depression that lasts for more than a month and negatively impacts an individual’s daily life.

It leads to a lot of acting out if not treated aggressively. Soldiers from these wars are coming back with it by the thousands. We’ve seen the effects on military families for the last five or six years. We’re talking homicides, suicides, domestic violence, substance abuse, and a whole host of other self destructive behaviors.

What we’ve found with yoga; it gives the individual back a sense of humanity that combat strips away. The destructive behaviors of combat find a way to slip into normal life and individuals living with PTSD can find themselves divorced, alone, in jail, unemployed, or even homeless.

Most of the homeless veterans on the street started out with simple PTSD that should have been treated. I get a lot of thanks from Vietnam veterans who see what we’re doing to make sure this generation of soldiers do not go through what they experienced. That’s the goal. We’re going to make sure we take better care of those that look after us.

Yoga has been accepted as legitimate treatment by the VA. So, we’re telling anyone who will listen to get to a yoga class, or one of my favorites, acupuncture.

I’ve learned first hand exactly how the two mesh. Acupuncture forces the body to stay still and breath, otherwise those needles get uncomfortable. You learn how to be still; learn to trust someone putting needles in you; learn to take time out to just be. Trust is a major issue with veterans. We’ve seen human beings at their worst, so it’s understandable, but it can be managed.

Yoga is a follow-up to acupuncture, allowing you to become comfortable with your humanity, once you’ve calmed down. The hyper-aroused state is intense and can last a whole day causing havoc in an individual’s life. If you aren’t aware of your condition, this can lead to panic attacks, which have put me in a fetal position on the floor on more than one occasion.

Later on, with more yoga, you get to explore your own renewed, refreshed, almost reborn, mind, body, and spirit. For veterans, this can be a matter of life and death. Dwelling on the horrors of war can put someone in a very unhealthy state of mind. We’re close to a “cure” here if there were such a thing.

Spread the word.

NF: Wow, great info. Thanks, Cheyenne.

Contributor Cheyenne Forsythe is a University of South Florida student and a 6-year Army veteran who served with the 85th Medical Detachment. He was on one of the first Combat Stress Control Teams sent to Iraq’s frontlines in 2003 to help soldiers with combat stress symptoms while still “in country.” After surviving two IED attacks, Cheyenne now lives with PTSD as well.  Speaking out on veterans’ issues has become his self-ascribed mission because as he puts it: “It’s just the right thing to do.”  His other contributions include:

Learning to Take a Break

Serving on a Combat Stress Control Team

Dissipating My PTSD: Working on Large Crowds

%d bloggers like this: