It was one year ago today… give or take a day or two, but distinctly an anniversary of sorts. The days, weeks and months leading up to this day, one year ago today were characterized by anxiety, tension, depression, insomnia, severe physical pain, and a host of other distinctly stress-related symptomology. To be around me, as others were… family members, business partners & relationships, as well as members of my small-town community (when I had the energy to leave my “safe” home)… even complete strangers, must have been terrifying and surreal. To them, Marc was no longer in the building… To them, something dark, scary and powerful had taken him over… To them, wondering when he was going to completely lose it.
Shortly before I decided that there was a problem and my solutions weren’t working, I encountered a person outside my parents condo who questioned why I was smoking outside his building. I was wearing a hoodie… it was dark… my wife was standing 10 feet away and saw the whole thing… Something deep inside me took over and I shot forth a stream of defensive/offensive words, my body trembled as I “puffed up” and took several purposeful steps towards him… I saw the look of fear in his eyes… I heard Heather’s voice… Something brought me back and I walked away…
Two days later on Dec 26, 2014, I admitted myself into an in-patient treatment center specializing in PTSD and Trauma. I had already been misdiagnosed as bi-polar II, several months earlier by a Psychiatrist who admitted knowing nothing about trauma-related mental health, nor PTSD… even when I broke down in her office in the midst of a flashback! She meant well, though, and sent me on my way with two types of Xanax and an anti-seizure drug with such severe potential side-effects as to be life-threatening if mis-taken. I was a wreck… Here is a post I wrote before things got really bad… Click here.
Making the decision to get professional help undoubtedly saved my life… My entire being didn’t know what was real anymore; everything was a threat and I was constantly fighting; life itself became meaningless. Towards the end, for weeks, at some point, I would curl myself up into a ball and want to die… Let me be clear, this was not some wanton or casually flippant statement to garner sympathy, rather this was a visceral, dark, insidious desire to not be alive anymore… with imagery, how-to’s, suggestions and probabilities. I was terrified and didn’t know what to do anymore. My yoga practice that had once sustained me had fallen away, gone for over a year and a half at this point, did not make me feel any better the times I tried to go to the mat… in fact it made things worse. (quick side note: My daily asana and meditation practice sustained me for many, many months… I had peace, joy and clarity… There was balance and ease. I founded the Sedona Yoga Festival during that time… met my wife Heather, got married and together we started several businesses and built a world-class destination Yoga Festival. Somewhere in all that, I began to have less and less time available to practice, or so I thought! It didn’t take long before I was making excuses for not getting on the mat and finally those stopped. I lost touch and it didn’t take long for the world to close in…)
I came to find out that my body and mind were in an endless loop of the fight/flight/freeze response, I was living in/from the Limbic System and everything about my systems were overloaded. I no longer could look at “the moment”, let alone be in it and as I said, EVERYTHING was a threat, automatically categorized by my limbic brain as such… and from my limbic brain came my responses. Let me tell you, the Limbic System is no place to live for a long period of time… it is cold, dark, calculating and cruel… bluntly it sucks for you AND those around you!) Ironically, as I am a Yogi, I had no idea that this was actually happening… and I couldn’t hear, nor did I believe those around me.
So, you’re wondering… if he went in on December 26, then why is today an anniversary? Well, this is where it gets realzies folks… I was on the watch list for near 3 weeks at the Level 1 Physchiatric Facility I went to (that’s right! I spent 40 days in a mental hospital!!!) And for that time, even though the environment was super-cool, relaxed and ultra chill, I was still combative, anxious and depressed… my first day I had flashbacks so real I nearly passed out! Day after day, I went through the motions… going to groups, therapies, classes, meals and meetings… looking inward, digging deep. I wasn’t getting better, nor was I making any friends of my counselors, trained to “call my bullshit” at every opportunity. Near 3 weeks this continued… they must have seen it first… before me, as they pulled me off the watch list first… a day or two went by and then it happened.
I will NEVER, EVER forget the sensation as the tension left my body, the world took on a new look, the colors became more vibrant and the smiles around me were noticed. Looking around me, I wondered where I was… It was safe, secure, there were beautiful souls around me… and I was HAPPY. Deeply happy… Bliss would describe it perfectly! It turns out, that I was so severely out of balance that my entire experience was being governed by the Limbic System… 24-7 for easily a year and a half or more. (since I stopped practicing to be sure!!! note to self) It also turns out, this is not uncommon for many, many who suffer the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress.
Can you imagine?
Now, clearly I am an extreme case… and there are other extreme cases that you may run into in your endeavors to share Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness with Trauma Survivors and those who suffer from PTSD… These people may, as I did, need professional help and a complete reset… or they just may need a guide. You will need to determine this as you go, but worry not, because you will learn from experts in the field all about Traumatic Stress, TBI(traumatic brain injury) and Healing with Yoga at the 3rd Annual SYF Gives Back Pre-Festival Intensive Training.
Here’s the good news! The ancient science of yoga IS the healing balm to manage traumatic stress, PTSD, TBI and other trauma or stress related illnesses and diseases. It IS proven effective and it DOES work… I just have to do it, consistently, steadily and with passion.
Those affected by PTSD need our help… Your help. You can be the guide… you can be a beacon of hope.
On March 8th-10th, 2016 at the Hilton Sedona Bell Rock Resort you will learn how mindfulness can help someone to regain control of their physiology, how yoga cleanses, conditions, energizes and aligns the energy body’s, how and what meditation’s are helpful for Trauma Survivors, and how pranayama is effective in stimulating coherence in the brain. Just a hint, as you join the world class faculty, all experts in their respective fields come together to share with you: Traumatic Stress: Resiliency and Healing with Yoga.
I am good. I consistently return to the practice… steadily apply my efforts and I do so with a passion. Yoga is the Journey out of the Darkness, and a teacher is the guide. I am blessed to have been shown the way by my teachers and I am blessed to be a part of bringing these teachers to you…
“NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO LIVE LIKE THIS”, I screamed inside my head over and over and over again… and they don’t.