Veteran’s Day came and went…and I never feel like the one day is nearly enough to thank those who have served.
The topic of veteran mental health is one that is so near and dear to my heart, and until now I’d been hesitant to talk about it because of the stigma surrounding it in the world today. Anytime we talk about mental health, there is a sense of “shame” or “taboo” around the conversation.
I’m not 100% sure why that is, but I think it has some to do with the fact that it is an invisible illness. Michael has said many times before that it would be easier for him to explain the pain he lives with every day if he had lost a limb. If he was in a wheelchair or had a prosthetic limb, other people would be able to see why he has to go to the VA hospital regularly.
It’s like we assume it would make “more sense” for Michael and others like him to be on disability if they had a physical disability because that is something we can see. It’s also easier to understand why a veteran with a drug addiction has to go to the VA regularly…but someone struggling with PTSD? That’s more difficult to wrap our minds around…
It’s like those of us outside the service have to qualify veterans’ disabilities in our own minds before we allow it to have weight and significance…before we “approve” of their need.
I’m so sick of that mentality. It not only invalidates the pain of others but it ENCOURAGES SHAME in the lives of those who live with mental illness. And that SHAME leads to intense emotional damage.
I would argue that our societal understandings and stigmas that we place on mental illness and those who live with it every day inflicts SYSTEMATIC ABUSE on those who live with mental illnesses, and especially our veterans with TBI and PTSD.
And those societal stigmas discourage veterans with TBI and PTSD from seeking help because of that shame they feel for what society tells them is their “lack of strength.” And that pisses me off.
So let’s talk about this.
If you’re a veteran living with TBI and/or PTSD, I want you to know that society’s lack of understanding of your experience does not make your experience any less real and traumatic. You are not “weak” for needing help. You are not "making it up.” What you feel, relive, and have difficulty dealing with are all REAL. And you deserve to receive the highest level of care and treatment. But I can empathize with your unwillingness to seek out help. If you can’t take that step just yet to get professional help, keep reading this blog and the one I posted a few days before this: Oils for Combat Veterans Living with TBI and PTSD: For Sleep. I don’t share your experience, but please know that I truly seek to empathize with you just as I have sought to empathize with and support Michael.
If you are a family member or friend supporting a veteran with TBI and/or PTSD, I know it can be difficult to know what to do in the day-to-day situations with your loved one. You want to help, but, if you’re like me, you feel like nothing you do really does any good and you find yourself struggling to understand and worrying that you can’t relate to your loved one in this thing he or she is going through. And it’s so important that our veterans feel like they aren’t all alone in their experience. So what do we do? That’s a question I’ve asked so many times…and I don’t have all the answers. But I’m going to continue to do anything and everything I can to educate myself on TBI and PTSD and be present for Michael in every way I can be and then share what I learn with others who may be going through similar circumstances.
My education and my desire to be present with Michael have turned my attention to essential oils for emotional support. Here’s what I know and some of the essential oils we’ve used to support the emotional health of Michael, a veteran living with TBI and/or PTSD, and my own emotional health as his loved one.
Essential oils are the only substance can breach the blood/brain barrier. That means that when we put an essential oil on our skin, take it internally, or breathe it in aromatically, that oil does not just enter our bloodstream and exit our body through our body’s waste system. Essential oils can absorb into our cells and actually reach our organs and our brain.
That gives them incredible power to have positive effects on the brain, supporting the brain’s natural functioning and healing process, especially where Traumatic Brain Injury is concerned. Our emotional side of our brains have to be functioning properly and regularly detoxing when we sleep in order for us to have a consistently healthy emotional life.
Some of the oils that can help promote healthy brain function are Cedarwood, Frankincense, and Helichrysum. Michael often applies Cedarwood essential oil to his brain stem (back of the neck) and on his big toes and thumbs—the VitaFlex points on hands and feet that are connected to the brain.
Another thing I know to be true about essential oils is that when used aromatically, they enter the olfactory system, which is directly connected to memory. I’m sure you’ve heard the example of when you smell something like a warm chocolate chip cookie it makes you think of your grandmother’s house or “transports you” back to that moment when you were a child and everything was sweet and good.
As a veteran with PTSD or a family member of a veteran with TBI and PTSD, you know that there are also certain smells (as well as images and sounds) that trigger your traumatic memories. While images and sounds can be quick triggers for panic attacks, I think that smells act as even more intense triggers because of the olfactory system’s direct connection to our emotional memories.
Our bodies vibrate at certain frequencies—vibrations of life. When we are healthy and happy—experiencing that moment of pure childhood joy in our grandma’s kitchen eating a warm chocolate chip cookie—we vibrate a higher frequency. When we catch a cold or are home with the flu, our body’s frequency is vibrating lower than that healthy/happy body. Essential Oils also contain certain frequencies. The frequencies of essential oils are significantly higher than even the natural/healthy frequency of our bodies, so when we use oils, they help oxygenate our blood, cross our blood/brain barrier, and raise our body frequency.
So knowing that about essential oils, and knowing how our sense of smell is so intimately connected to our memories and emotions, we can understand why essential oils may be helpful in supporting the emotional health of veterans with PTSD.
D. Gary Young, the founder of Young Living Essential Oils, created oil blends that contain the very frequency that our physical bodies vibrate at when we experience certain positive emotions. The blend “Joy” contains the frequency of the emotion of joy. The blend “Inner Child” contains the frequency of that feeling we have when we get to feel and act like a kid again. The blend “Forgiveness” contains the frequency of the emotional release that comes with forgiving another person or yourself. Dr. Young put such care and devotion into the creation of these blends.
Think about the various negative emotions you experience when you’re having a PTSD flashback or attack, or a panic attack. I’ve heard emotions described such as fear, shame, guilt, vulnerability, terror, helplessness, and self-hatred. When you are experiencing a flashback to a traumatic memory or a panic attack as an effect of the memory surfacing or trying to surface into your conscious mind, your body frequency lowers to match the frequency your body was vibrating at while you experienced that trauma.
Our memories and emotions are not just stuck in our minds. They cause physical symptoms as well, so knowing that our bodies vibrate at a lower frequency when we are physically ill and also when we are emotionally “ill,” we can begin to understand how an experience of memory or a panic attack might cause us to have a physical reaction as well as an emotional reaction.
But we can raise our body frequency back to a healthy, positive emotional and physical state through the use of essential oils. The oil blends that Young Living sells have been vital to my own personal emotional growth—in overcoming the emotional trauma of divorce, the emotional trauma of self-loathing and poor body image, etc.—and they have also had a positive effect on Michael in working through the emotional traumas of his combat experience.
Some of the oil blends I’ve used that have helped me overcome emotional traumas are SARA, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Release, Transformation, Awaken, and Acceptance. Michael’s favorites to help raise his emotional frequency are Aroma Life, Peace & Calming, and Grounding. We often diffuse the oil blends or we will apply oils to our wrists and behind our ears.
We will dive further into how we can use the oil blends Dr. Young created in the next blog on this topic about oils for Emotional Release for Veterans living with TBI and PTSD using Dr. Young’s Feelings Kit Protocol, but I hope you will try a few of the blends I mentioned here or explore the other options Young Living has to offer.
The best way to start on your journey to emotional health with essential oils is to purchase your Young Living Premium Starter kit with Desert Mist Diffuser. For $160, you get 11 oils/oil blends and a BONUS diffuser, plus a year membership with 24% off everything else you purchase—including the specialized oil blends you choose to support your emotional health. That is how I started us on our journey to emotional support. Here’s how easy it is:
Step 1: Order your premium starter kit by clicking the button below. My member number will automatically populate so you will be added to my team upon purchase. Once I am notified that you have purchased your starter kit, I will send you my popular eBook “30+ Ways to Use Your Young Living Starter Kit” for FREE. The eBook will help teach you how to use each of the oils that come in your kit to support every system in your body. Then, I’ll be in touch with you to help coach you on what to use to make the real strides you want to make in your wellness journey.
Step 2: On the order page, be sure to sign up for the Essential Rewards Program. Once your starter kit order processes, simply sign into your account on YoungLiving.com, go to “Essential Rewards” and add the following products to your monthly order: Mindwise and Ningxia Red (plus any oil blends you desire for emotional support). For more info on Mindwise, be sure to refer back to the last blog post in this series: For Sleep.
That’s all there is to it. As a member of my team by purchasing your starter kit, I become your coach and I am committed to helping you cultivate your story of wellness, purpose, and abundance. I can’t wait for you to join me on this journey! Support your veteran or take charge of your own health as a veteran with Young Living’s Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils.