• Cade DeBois

    I have PTSD from genderized (but not sexualized) abuse, in addition to having grown up in a troubled home. By the time I was 15, which was shortly after my episode of abuse, I began exercising, even before I was aware i had PTSD. I was encouraged by an adult friend who put his hand on my shoulder and noticing how tense my muscles were suggeted I take up exercising to help me relax. Although I wouldn’t know until many years later, exercise became my salvation (and conversely, for a period of my 20′s when I was too sick to exercise, yet still undx’d, I suffered the worse of my PTSD). As a survivor my sense of powerlessness and a disconnectionw with my body was very deep and so thorough it felt “normal’ to me. Through exercise I slowly began to be more aware of these feelings and patterns of behavior. Exercise helped improve not just my general physical strength and well-being, but my sense of awareness of and control over my own body, what fitness folks like to call the “mind-body” connection. It also greatly improved my confidence (an ongoing struggle for me) and my sense of personal agency, competency and ability.

    I don’t like yoga. I’m a disabled woman and don’t have the body type (yeah, yeah I have heard all the patronizng “yoga can be for everyone” crap–let’s get real please), I hate rolling around on hard floors and I hate how it feels too static. I actually feel worse after yoga. So i don’t even try anymore. Not much a fan of really vigorous exercise either. I prefer Ellen Barrett’s work-outs (ones with little matwork), walking, hiking or jogging–things that have a more medium pace and I can let my mind kind of zone out and find its rhythm with my body. My brain needs that–it needs to reconnect through my body with the physical world in ways where I feel completely in control of myself. That’s what works for me.

  • Tom Cloyd

    Your observation that exercise can be a way of “restarting” one’s relationship with one’s body is important. Absence (or reduction) of active trauma memory, a major goal of trauma-focused therapy, does not specifically promote initiation of a positive personal history, be it with ones body or anything else, yet this is essential to a life that is comfortable, rewarding, and productive. I do so agree with you as to the value of active creation of a good body-experience, something ReelSmartCookie also addressed in her comment.

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