Anna sat bolt upright in her bed when she heard the first bang. Then she heard another. And another, all in quick succession.
Her roommate Jan was still awake and getting ready for exams. She said she didn’t hear anything.
Anna was drenched in sweat. She knew her nightmares were getting worse. And more real. And more scary.
She’d had them for five years now, starting the day after the car accident. Laughing in the back seat of her Mom’s car over her new purple hair color with her BFF... They didn’t even see it coming. Then she was gone.
It took almost a year of therapy to stop the movie from replaying in her own head. A whole year, to be able to hit the “pause” button in her head. But she was never able to hit the ‘Stop’ button... or the ‘Delete’ button. The movie was always there.
Whenever she heard a car horn, a door slam, or any kind of loud noise, it triggered the movie. Her heart started to race, the adrenaline started to flow, and five minutes later she was drenched in sweat. She was a wreck.
She was so exhausted from these perpetual attacks she wanted to sleep for a month.
Anna was in her last year of college. She had sleeping pills prescribed by her doctor, and two other drugs prescribed by her psychiatrist.
The drugs worked... sort of, because even though the movie was still in her head, she was more numb to it. Like watching a scary movie on mute. If you can’t hear the sounds, it’s not as scary.
She wasn’t afraid to drive, which she found curious and weird at the same time. But she was thankful at least for not being afraid of cars.
Then, on the first Monday of her exams, as she was pulling into the parking lot... she was rear ended by another student. Probably late for an exam.
She froze. Her mind and body seemed to shut down. She could only feel herself breathing. But not moving. She heard the voices around her, getting louder and louder... and angrier. Why were they angry? Why were they shouting at her?
But she couldn’t move. Like in a dream, she felt herself being lifted, then covered with warm blankets, and straps were placed around her. The voices were soothing now.
Her eyes were open, but she couldn’t register what she was seeing. Like someone disconnected the wires between her eyes, ears and brain. She wasn’t scared. She felt nothing. Thought nothing.
Anna woke up in a hospital bed. She was told that she was asleep for almost 18 hours... but that she was unhurt in the accident. Now she remembered. Remembered everything.
The yelling...the angry voices... it was because the car behind her barely bumped into her and they couldn’t understand what she was doing... faking maybe.
The doctor told her she was fine... physically. But the accident triggered her past trauma... probably because it involved a car, a physical jolt and a loud bang.
She was discharged from the hospital with an appointment set with her psychiatrist. Now what? will her life be forevermore defined by an ongoing battle with nightmares and trauma?
How would she ever hold down a job? Have a relationship... or kids even? She could feel the paranoia building in her mind. She suddenly felt cold... then flushed. The adrenalin again... even without the movie in her head.
Anna arrived early at Dr. McLeary’s office. She was welcomed by a smiling receptionist that reminded her of her mother. She was given a warm, fancy coffee and led into a comfortable... soothing even, private waiting room with a large, comfortable leather chair in front of a gas fireplace.
The room smelled of flowers. The wooden paneled walls were covered with paintings of landscapes... but no people. And there was no window. The room was just the right size. Not too big... not too small.
She found herself feeling safe. Like she was in a cocoon. Or maybe it was because she knew that Dr. McLeary had the answers. That he could help... will help.
She was called into her appointment right on time by the friendly receptionist.
She knew Dr. Mcleary well. He was a kind doctor, with a warm smile and a gentle demeanor. Slightly balding, in his mid fifties, wearing a nice, but casual shirt and jeans.
She sat down across from him at his desk. Not on the therapy chair. Curious, she thought.
Dr. McLeary was silent for several minutes while he read the hospital physician’s report. His face was expressionless. He was careful never to give away anything with his face.
He looked up, took off his glasses and crossed his hands in front of him. And told her.
Told her it would take more time. Told her it would take more drugs. Told her it would take more sessions. Told her... that he really wasn’t sure what will work. Or how long it will take.
For Anna, time stood still. She was frozen, and trapped with a mind that would not release its grips on her.
At that moment, she knew she was alone. Failed by all the people, though well meaning, who tried to help... but couldn’t.
And finally, it was an admission, actually a confirmation of what she’d suspected for a while... Science doesn’t have all the answers. In fact, science raises more questions instead of fixing dilemmas.
For Anna, it meant just one thing. It was up to her. If she wanted to have any kind of normal life, SHE had to find a solution. But how? Where?
One minute before her appointment was up, Dr. McLeary stood up, and with his warm smile ushered her out to the door. It’s how the system works.
She left Dr. McLeary’s office with another prescription and another appointment slip. She spent the next month searching for solutions on the internet. If science could not help her... then could nature?
Could people heal themselves? What did they do for thousands of years before pharmaceutical drugs were invented and medicine became a science?
Anne knew that drugs were a mask of symptoms. They didn’t actually heal anything. Only your body can heal itself. Drugs may sometimes help in the healing by speeding up certain things... or slowing them down... or killing things... like cells... or viruses...
But when it comes right down to it, our bodies have to heal themselves.
Anna felt, deep inside that she couldn’t be the only one trapped in this kind of quandary. She couldn’t be the only one - alone in trying to become free from the nightmares, the fears and the anxiety caused by trauma.
She also felt that odds are... someone has already figured out how to fix this.
She just needed to find what it was... find out what might work for her.
She was prepared to try anything. And she knew that a lifetime of prescriptions was not the answer.
If she didn’t take now... she may never. And now she knew that getting better really came down to taking action in her best interest.
Anne finally realized... accepted... that her health, her future was her responsibility.
Especially after having gotten no real results from anyone who was trained in ways to help her.
In some ways, Anne was relieved. Relieved because she felt like she had some control... she had options... she had choice...
She had the power to change her future and the power to find a solution for the darkness and fears haunting her... Knowing that made her feel better than any drug or any therapist has ever been able to.
She actually felt the muscles in her cheeks... it was a smile. Something she’d almost forgotten.
At midnight one night... too tired to study any more, she decided to continue to research her solutions. She already had a list... but nothing jumped out at her... until she came across this website and watched the case study.
It spoke to her. It sent a message to her soul. She cried as she thought of the future... a future without fear... without the movie in her head... without the nightmares and the darkness always lurking inside her soul.
She booked her healing retreat. It was a week long. Afterward, it turned out that it didn’t change her life... it gave it back to her.
The nightmares disappeared. The movie, though still there, had lost its meaning. It was now just a memory. A memory with no power over her any more.
It’s been a whole year since. She wished that she had done this years ago. She wasted years. But today she was free.
If there’s a darkness within - from a trauma in your past... it’s time to take charge of your own future. Today. Because if you don’t do it today... you’ll have wasted years of your life.
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