David George Uses the Power Within for PTSD Stress Relief
By Christine Leccese
At first glance, David George’s story sounds similar to many service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. While deployed in Iraq, he witnessed and was part of a traumatic event. His compound was car bombed and about 50 people were injured. And he saw it all. About a year after returning home, he was anxious, depressed, drank a lot, and prone to recklessness. His life was spinning out of control. The rest of David’s story, however, is different than that of many returning veterans with PTSD, and one that Operation Warrior Wellness made possible for him.
After returning from Iraq, the barracks’ normal sounds would make David’s heart pound. A slamming door or artillery practice in the distance could cause him to panic. The smell of burning rubber could take him right back to the war. Stopping at a red light at night? Forget it. That made him feel like a sitting target. He describes the keyed up feeling he had day and night: “You know that feeling you have just before a race? That jittery feeling? I had that all the time.”
David sought help from a bottle — Jack Daniels and whiskey could bring him a little relief, but that, of course, brought its own problems. He had several car crashes, and didn’t care whether he lived or died. His mother was frantic and said she woke up every morning not knowing whether her son would be dead or alive. Relationships and lost jobs were casualties of David’s PTSD. He wanted it to stop so he sought help. The VA was treating him with medication, but it wasn’t making a difference for David.
Here’s where David’s story takes a twist. One day, while listening to the radio in between classes, he heard an ad for a research study that was looking at the effects of transcendental meditation on PTSD. Someone had told him about TM a year or so earlier, but he could not afford to take the classes to learn how to do it. He jumped at the chance to be part of the research study, and signed up.
The first time he practiced TM, he noticed that for that 20 minutes he was free of anxiety. He started looking forward to the next day’s practice knowing that he would have another 20 minutes without anxiety. Then, the calm that he felt during his TM practice started seeping into other parts of his day. Eventually, David’s symptoms subsided. He credits it all to TM.
“The first time I meditated, I experienced this relief from the constant anxiety attack my life had become,” David said. “You have to give yourself a chance to make yourself feel better, because no one else is going to do it for you.”
David says that he will never stop meditating. “I’m so happy and I’ll never stop. It has this compounding effect and gets better every day.” Today, David meditates for about 20 minutes twice a day. If he is stressed about something, he’ll do a little 10-minute meditation. When he sits up in bed in the morning, he meditates, and also if he has any other opportunities, such as sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. Transcendental meditation turned David’s life around, and could be a great option for other people with PTSD. If you are wondering whether your own symptoms are likely a result of PTSD, depression, anxiety, or alcohol use, you can take a free, anonymous screening. Service members who want to learn more about TM can check out Operation Warrior Wellness.
Christine Leccese is the marketing and communications manager for Military Pathways.