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“How PTSD Transformed My Life” by Laura Jane McKeown

12 December

by Freedom Of Mind

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In this guest post, writer and life coach Laura Jane McKeown shares her journey with PTSD and how it’s lead to her creating positive change in both her life, and the lives of others.

CW: PTSD and some references to Suicide and Sexual Assault

‘What Is Personal Is Universal’

I recognise that the ways in which we heal, grow and change look different for us all, as we are all unique and beautiful and completely individual. But, as my partner likes to tell me, we are actually “more alike than we are different”. I have come to know, from my own experience, that just by sharing and telling our personal stories we can be a catalyst for healing in others as well as ourselves. I want to also quote psychologist Carl Rodgers here who reassures us that “what is most personal is most universal”. This being said, I will be sharing with you one of my most personal stories today.

I have a theory that extends from Carl Rodgers quote. In the book ‘Radical Healing’ by Rudolph M Ballentine, he explains the beauty and wonders of nature and how the earth has been designed to support us. If you think about it, we support each other, as we breathe out, the trees breathe in, and in return gift us clean nurturing oxygen. Rudolph Ballentine mentions how specific plants that resemble particular ‘diseases’ are actually a clue for what it cures. For example, he points out a flower that looks like it has warts on its stem. It is this plant that in fact is used to for the treatment of warts. Upon reading that teaching I arrived at my regular drum circle at Hamilton house and began to beat of the skin of my djembe.

The moon was full and I had been holding in feelings of frustration and anger. As an extremely sensitive soul, I’ve always found it difficult to express my anger, it either rattles out in the form of tears or push it down too long and I tear myself apart – including the house! This time however, I channeled that emotion into the drum. The sheer sound of the drum’s expression sounded exactly like mine when unable to formulate it into words. After the session I felt clearer. It was as if the beating anger in my heart and the sound of the drum connected due to their similarity in shape and danced away together into the ether.

So my theory, “that which matches heals” is why I share my story with you today, in hope that my own experience may resonate, create connection, open up communication and perhaps encourage your own healing.

Listen to your gut

In my final year at university, studying a subject I had chosen with worry and no real thought, I was lost and miserable. I had always struggled with low self esteem and had found myself constantly seeking love and approval outside of myself until one day I found myself in a life threatening and traumatic experience.

I had been asked out on date. Getting into his car, ignoring my gut instincts shooting off alarm bells, I decided to believe he was taking me out for dinner. I quickly realised that this wasn’t the case and it suddenly dawned on me that this could quite possibly be the last or most terrifying day of my life. Through following complete inner guidance I got myself back to safety.

Another Chance At Life

I had survived and escaped and I had been given a second chance at life. In that moment I had been shown my biggest fear and greatest gratitude in one instant.

However, from this incident, I began to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress disorder, phobias and terrifying panic attacks. I didn’t know what they were at the time. These attacks occurred frequently throughout the day and all through the night! They were exhausting, constantly feeling like I was trying to stay alive and grip onto my life.

My Lightbulb Moment

My ‘ah ha’ moment, where I noticed a real change, was when I went to a PTSD group. I realised we were continuously describing our panic attacks in full detail and discussing how much of a struggle it was. I would end up coming home feeling ten times worse! Constantly reliving the feelings and sensations of panic attacks just wasn’t working for me anymore.

I completely refused to believe that my panic disorder would be something I would have to live with my whole life! From that point I made a decision and that my full focus was to be on my recovery and finding another way.

Free From Fear

At night, my palpitations would pull me awake and I stopped being able to fall asleep, spending every night writing goodbye letters to my family and notes to myself if I made it through. Most of my letters to self were “if I survive this I promise to be more loving, to myself and others, more grateful and always positive” I noticed that in what I believed to be my last moments, the teachings and desires came through most. I knew I didn’t want to return to my old self, a change was happening and I wanted to discover a different way of living my life that was free from fear.

My biggest lesson was learning that every word I had uttered, scribbled or thought about myself had been a prayer and affirmed my belief system and fed my fears of unworthiness.
I rummaged through my collection of personal diaries and page after page was filled with self hate, worry and doubt. Having spent years of being so horrible and nasty to myself I had a huge habit to change. But I was going to get through this, I knew it was what I had to do if I wanted to heal.

A Change Was Happening

I was unable to take the medication for my depression and anxiety because they too would trigger panic. So, I turned to meditation instead, as well as reiki and my Mum’s book shelf!

– I read copious amounts of self help books and studied books on healing. Louise L Hay’s book ‘You can heal your life’ became my ‘go to’.
– I took up meditation and yoga to calm my mind and settle my energy.
– I followed the practice’s in the ‘The Lindon Method’ By Charles Lindon.
– I used clean eating and food as my medicine.
– I directed my excess of adrenaline and anxiety into running in nature everyday, helping me to trust in my body and my heart again as well as ground my energy and connect with nature.

Through journaling and meditation I began to discover a deeper love and appreciation for myself and connection to my inner wise voice. My palpitations started to heal and panics subside, I had made such a miraculous change and soon my panic attacks completely dissolved.

My Journey Continues

I now work as a healer and a happiness coach coaching many women to tap into their full time sense of joy and security. I am also becoming more and more aware of the anxiety in children and young people and hope to be a form of support and pass on to them all that I can. I want to help us to feel safe, calm, confident and connected to the wise, loving inner voice within all of us.
For further insight into my story and tips to recovery you can check out my channel at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTptBO9t47RScHd3KcduERw/videos?view_as=subscriber

And please do feel free to comment with your feedback, stories or get in touch with me to continue the conversation and the healing.

If you have something you want to say about mental health send us a pitch to cai.burton@freedomofmind.org.uk

Keep your pitches to less than 150 words and tell us what content you want to make and why you want to make it. It can be anything, from a poem, to an article, to a video, to a piece of artwork – we’re just after stories to tell. We can keep things anonymous if you’d like and we’ll help you to edit your piece then get it up on the blog.


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