Healing the anxiety and hypervigilance of PTSD and panic attacks

Over this past weekend, I worked with three different people during Healing Ceremony. One ceremony provided many lessons on how to work with anxiety, grief, and PTSD-like symptoms.

(I am changing the personal details in the following story, to protect anonymity.)

I was contacted by a gentleman who was experiencing great anxiety, ruminating thoughts, and panic attacks. He works in the healthcare field, and recently lost a patient in the Emergency Room. He had to perform CPR, but wasn't able to save the patient.

I immediately felt compassion for the man, as the patient's death obviously affected him in some way. He agreed, but felt that it was only a "surface pain" and that there was something much bigger and more "shadowy" affecting his ability to cope with regular life. He felt that he was "loosing it", because he had such hypervigiliance at work (senses heightened for any crises, always feeling on edge, not being able to calm down, feeling paranoid that co-workers were silently judging him, etc.). He stated that he had lost patients before, it was a necessary evil of working in an Emergency Room, and his training usually kicked in and kept him compassionate but distant from the effects of death. But now he felt panic, and had so much difficulty even getting out of his car to walk into work, that everything felt like a crisis, and he wasn't sure he could cope with it anymore.

I worked with this gentleman shamanically, and together, Coyote, Bear, Flamingo and I worked with his chakras.

As we began at the feet and Root, we saw great inflammation and pain. Bear spoke of a need for better shoes at work, and the lack of trust in other co-workers. The client agreed, stating that he does not trust in his coworkers beyond working with them, and so he felt as though he could not start any close friendships with any coworkers because of the backstabbing and gossip that he perceived. Because of the constant stress of holding everything in and not trusting others to "vent", the patient's death severely affected his self confidence and his ability to stand firm.

We moved to working with the Power chakra, and it was full of intrusions and cords (mostly placed there by the will of the client). He looked exhausted. We saw images of money, banks, and "allowance" given out. This highlighted to me that this gentleman's concept of power and will centered around money. I asked about his relationship with money, and if he thought it was healthy, or anxiety-provoking, etc. He spoke of the difficulty of "always ensuring that I have enough money to support others."  Because of the economy, many of his family members were unable to find gainful employment, and so he felt it was his responsibility, and a demonstration of his love and power, to financially support them. Coyote helped highlight a darker aspect to this type of power, and we spoke to the client (very delicately) about the use of financial power as a means of feeling in control.

Immediately, his face changed from anxiety to confusion to wonder. "Wow!" he exclaimed, "that's really interesting! Maybe by trying to help my family with money, I am trying to control their own emotions of disappointment and sadness, and then I feel in control of my family's joy and feelings of self-worth!" It was a wonderful breakthrough, and I had him write it down, as "shamanic homework" for the next few months.

As we moved to the Heart Chakra, we discovered a battleground. Barbed-wire fences, band-aids, smoke, and feelings of despair. Underneath the band-aids (symbols of the client trying to mend his own heart), there was intense image of Grief and Death. The patient that died was a mere shadow, barely on the surface of this warzone, but as we waved the image away, we saw two deep, bloody scars along the heart. As we shrunk ourselves down to go inside, they showed images of the times in which they occurred. One looked like a female that was paired with the client, and another, a stereotypical mother-figure.

I asked the gentleman about the images, and he grew very silent, and then began to cry. He spoke of two deaths, of his ex-wife and his mother, and that they both occurred within the past 2-3 years. Bear showed me that his grief process had been aborted, as the gentleman felt that he had to show love, compassion, and power for the remaining relatives (for the kids when his ex-wife died, and for the family when his mother died). This was the root of his anxiety & PTSD-- the patient's death at the ER was the Universe's way of restarting this man's grief process, so that he could experience these emotions (and not cover them with scars).**  He had poured out so much love to others, that he was unable to focus inward anymore. Bear and I spoke about the need for self-love, in order to balance the love and compassion that goes to his family, patients, and significant other. And we also spoke about the need to reflect and integrate his experiences, which may be painful.

At this moment, the gentleman relaxed, and began talking aloud (while we brought parts of his Soul back to himself). He spoke of the need to call EAP (employee assistance program), as it was a confidential and free way to seek out therapy. We heartily supported him with this, as it may help him process out loud, and move the great anxiety and panic out of his physical body.

We completed the healing, and gave him a big Bear-Hug at the end. He appeared stronger and more peaceful, and stated that he was already thinking of ways in which to deal with his grief and loss. We thanked him, said our goodbyes, and wished him luck and love.

I am constantly thankful for the working relationships that I have with different spirits, and that they are able to help others in this way. I am also amazed at how emotional health and well being has such an affect on physical health. I pray that this man continues with his "shamanic homework" so that he may feel greater healing.

** All emotions can be processed through the physical body, which can be both positive and negative. In the case of this gentleman, he was unable to work with and integrate his grief emotions, because of his need to support others (a noble need). The human mind is wonderful at being able to section off different painful thoughts so that we can continue with life. However, if that pain is not processed at a later date, and/or  is constantly ignored, then it may have the side effect of creating physical symptoms in the body (panic attacks, hypersensitivity and vigilance, etc.). This is called the psycho-somatic effect, and is a very real power that the mind and body share. Read more about it here!


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