Changing My Brain . . . Changed My PTSD

By April Wimmer, Lieutenant Colonel (retired)

I was deployed in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2014. During my deployment, there was an insider shooting, and 15 of my co-workers were shot. Additionally, right as I returned home, there was an IED explosion that killed two more of my co-workers.

Once home, I had great difficulty sleeping. I would wake up in the middle of the night, completely panicked, with a full-blown adrenaline rush. I would also go into full-blown panic mode if someone approached my car. My brain was back to IEDs, even though I was safe and sound at home.

I hated going out in crowds because I was so hyper-vigilant. The things that once brought me joy, like professional sporting events or a concert, were now a source of great anxiety. My family was constantly on edge because they never knew when an encounter would lead to a confrontation or us having to leave because I could no longer deal with being in a crowd.

After a few weeks of integrating my primitive reflexes and learning about the brain, something wonderful occurred. I slept through the night! It was the first time in almost three years that I had slept for an entire night.

As the weeks continued, the nights of restful sleep grew more frequent. Additionally, thanks to the techniques that I learned during the Brain Highways program, if I woke in a panicked state, I could now calm myself and sometimes even get back to sleep.

My entire family has benefited from a well-rested parent, who is not exhausted. Even better, I was recently able to go to my son’s seventh birthday party at a crowded kids’ place—and truly enjoy the event! I was not so anxious and on guard that I missed out on the fun.

In the Brain Highways family course, I learned that my reactive lower brain did its job (so thank you) when I was in Afghanistan, when I was in true life-or-death situations. However, that kind of reactivity was not serving me well in my normal daily actions at home.

So, thank you, Brain Highways, for helping me finish my lower brain development, for teaching me how to calm my brain, and for giving me back the life I once had.