PTSD – The Impact of War
I have been on a personal and professional journey for most of my life. Beginning with a traumatic childhood that raised my anxiety levels and put my fight and flight response on speed dial! In my 40’s I trained as a CranioSacral therapist with the Upledger Institute and received a lot of help along the way. After my training, I wanted to find out more about PTSD and the impact of war on the individuals involved.
This was partly because of my own journey and partly because my biological father was a Polish refugee who had seen his family massacred in front of his eyes and became one of the most highly decorated polish airmen in our airforce the last war.
To this end, I volunteered with a charity to go to Sarajevo for three weeks, just 4 years after the end of the siege. The city was riven with bullet holes and blast damage in the ground and the walls of every building, tower blocks were burnt out, every space was filled with graves marked with simple wooden crosses, teams of doctors were working on the mass graves to identify bodies from the massacres that had taken place and there was trauma in every soul I saw or met. I treated about ten people every day and had a local lady to interpret for me.
One day in a makeshift clinic in an old damp house in the city and the next going out to find people in their homes in and just outside the city who could not travel in. Every person had been through horrifying events and I learnt, amongst many other things, how creative man can be when torturing his fellow man. I treated people with mangled bodies and minds who had been on both sides, fighting, civilian, torturer and tortured and I listened to all their stories. I learnt that for myself, as a therapist, the most important thing I could do was just be with them and not run away from their pain, not judge, but listen with compassion. It was quite extraordinary how many people with such terrible emotional and physical injuries were able to benefit from one or two short sessions. I felt humbled and deeply touched by this journey.
A few years later I very nearly drowned in a serious scuba diving accident and damaged my heart, lungs and most of all my mind. Added to the childhood trauma I was to begin my own very personal journey with chronic PTSD. I am still on that journey.
Since then I have worked on several intensive therapy programmes with the Upledger Institute specifically run for military veterans with PTSD both here and in the USA. On these programmes, we work in teams in one big room on a small group of veterans all day every day for a week and the results are incredible. It is a safe space and somehow the community created there is healing as much as the therapy. The work we do is a light touch form of bodywork that addresses emotional issues at the same time and this is part of its magic for PTSD, which as I know from my personal experience, is a whole body experience.
These intensive programmes are now run in the UK when we can, although the funding is difficult as they cost a lot to run. I also treat people with PTSD on a one to one basis in my private clinic in Marlow,
Here are some of the things people have said about our work:
And Veterans interviews from one of the programmes I worked on:
Written by Nikki Kenward