By Rachael Mynatt
It is a battle only the individual understands. A personal fight of post-traumatic stress is combatted and fulfilled differently in each case.
Medication may be prescribed and successfully suppress multiple symptoms, yet there is still a yearning of something more; something natural and fulfilling.
The adrenaline rush of working out; community involvement; the peace of nature; the presence of God; and the companionship with animals have proven to be therapeutic.
Our own Veterans and their family members tell their own stories of the natural ways in which they fought PTSD:
Thomas Whiteway, United States Marine Corps Veteran
“At 21 my dream of having a career in the Marine Corps was over. I was left with a brain injury, PTSD, and no direction for my life. I decided to try CrossFit and instantly found my drive. For the past 7 years I have set goals, worked hard and stayed dedicated to bettering myself through fitness. It has changed my life and helped me immensely with my PTSD. It gives me a place to let out frustrations, to find that adrenaline I crave, a place to relate to others and connect with people in my community. Most of all it gives me ambition to live life, to deal with my issues head on but not let them debilitate me and hinder me from enjoying everything life has to give.”
Sergeant First Class Bradley Lee, United States Army
“After Afghanistan, I really struggled with learning how to balance the professional life with my family life. My head always hurt and as a result, I found myself constantly angry for no reason, stressed out, or just plain lost. I grew up hunting and fishing and loved being in the outdoors. So as my “therapy”, I went to the wilderness as much as I could. I learned to talk to God while sitting on a hill top, just staring into the wild. I found that the solitude of nature was good for my soul; it calmed me and gave me balance. The more I did it, the better I was able to manage myself when I returned to home and work. A few years later, I got my first horse. I didn’t even know how to ride. I quickly learned that he was more in tune to me, than I him. Many days, when those demons would start creeping up, I would just stand in pasture and let him rest his head on my shoulder. Those moments really crushed the demons. Still to this day, a trip to the woods or some time with a horse do more for my well-being than any medication the doctors ever tried on me. During my trials, I became a believer, and now I place all problems in God’s hands. Nothing is more holistic than a few prayers, a trip to the woods, a pond, or a horse ride.”
United States Army Veteran Spouse
“He returned home with a lack of emotion; a sense of avoidance. Every day seemed like a fight of restlessness and anxiety that stemmed from an unknown source. He constantly stressed about where his life was going, what he wanted to do. He was an avid fitness junkie but that just never did it. He was never a man of routine; he needed spontaneity, a challenge. The moment he got on a horse, it just clicked. There was a spiritual connection that was lit that day, and has burned like mad ever since. When he is on that horse, he is alive. His horse allows him to be emotionally vulnerable. His horse gives him the rush he craves, yet calms him at the same time. They are an unbreakable team of mutual hard work and respect. My husband’s experience with horses has given him a purpose. It has brought out the life in him.”
What inspires and fulfills each of us is different.
Regardless- there is something to be said of the healing aspects of the natural life around us.
Fitness, nature, faith, animals, community- are all powerful.
Rachael earned her BS in Health and Exercise Science from Colorado State University. She has a variety of experience in preventative health settings as well as rehabilitation clinics. She has worked as an Educator and Marketing Coordinator in Wellness Centers as well as assisting Physical Therapists with treatment programs and rehabilitation. Rachael is a yoga instructor of two extremes: Sculpt Yoga and Medical Yoga and Meditation. She is a firm believer in exercise as medicine.
In 2013, Rachael moved to Vicenza, Italy to be reunited with her husband stationed overseas. Rachael began working in the Army Wellness Center performing health assessments, exercise testing, marketing campaigns, and was selected to instruct Medical Yoga and Meditation to physically and mentally broken soldiers and referrals of Behavioral Health. While instructing, she emphasized mind-body awareness and the utilization of low-intensity movement and postures. Medical Yoga and Meditation is meant to improve strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, and coordination, as well as develop mind-body integration and self-regulation skills.
"I believe mindset and self-regulation are powerful tools. There is nothing more fulfilling than the sound of a soldier suffering from insomnia and PTSD snoring throughout guided meditation. Instructing our broken military men and women has inspired me and motivated me to create an impact. It is our duty to create positive change."