Hi, I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger and this is our YouTube channel where I have the opportunity to answer some of your questions without you talking back to me. This is from Lidia:
"During my naval service 25 years ago, I was severely injured [ooh], and shipped to the naval hospital for knee surgery and physical therapy (both of which were mishandled). There I spent a year alone [ooh] and in agonizing pain, and no one in my family bothered to visit. This had a lasting emotional effect -- but I thought long ago I'd come to grips with it.
Recently (at your urging) [yeah I nag about this on my radio program], I joined a gym. But every time I went in to grapple with those same machines and smells I recognized from the naval hospital PT-gym, I began filling with RAGE. Employees there are so perky and cheery - but I could barely SPEAK to them. I hated it. I hated them. I hated my new, cute gym clothes. I felt positively FURIOUS.
At first, I just got angry when I arrived. Then, I started getting sullen HOURS before leaving work to go there. This wasn't mere laziness. I was filled with the kind of anger that made me want to STRIKE OUT at anyone near me. Finally I stopped going and I discovered that being filled with that kind of rage sickened me.
Now I'm paying $29.95 a month for the privilege of NOT going to the gym. And in a weird way, it's worth it! BUT beyond walking the dog, I'm not getting much exercise. Do you think this could be a kind of PTSD? I feel blindsided. Do you have any suggestions?"
Yes, I wish I could do this with you in person, but I will pretend you are there, and hopefully you are watching this. Hypnotherapy (hypnosis) is a really good way to work through this. This isn't about your injuries, this isn't about your rehab - this is about you feeling abandoned and I think that's a pain that never goes away. So we've got to transform it into something else because it doesn't go away and that's what you're suffering from. This reminds you of just being left, not being cared about, nobody paying attention and I can't for the life of me... (I wish you had written more to me as to why that would be the case) but some people come from rotten families; what can I say?
This is what I would like you to do: I would like you to sit comfortably in a chair (I am going to do this with you here). You just sit comfortably in a chair. You've got to let your legs hang straight and your hands be on your knees [pats her knees] just like that. Let your shoulders drop [closes eyes] and it's sort of nice if you have some nice music in the background (I was not prepared for that so I don't have any), and you just relax. Then I've got to ask you to do something really terrible. I've got to ask you to, in your mind's eye, go back to the time you were in rehab and you kept watching other people get visited, and you kept looking at the door and you kept hoping somebody was going to come through it. I want you to get back to that really terrible, miserable, horrible feeling.
You've got to take some time sometimes to get there because you're going to resist it. [Keeps eyes closed]. Once you get there, I just want you to feel it, just let it consume you, let it make you angry because anger is really how you're coating pain. It's like a kitty cat: it gets scared [makes a squeaking sound] and what does it do? [Acts like she has claws]. And that's where the rage comes from - it's a response and a defense against feeling really scared. And you had to be scared on top of hurt.
OK, open your eyes [opens eyes], just shake your body around, just get loose again. Calm down, let your blood pressure go down. OK, now you're going to close your eyes again [closes eyes], and you're going to imagine being in the hospital, doing the rehab, and now you're going to remember something nice that happened. Maybe somebody visiting, or somebody else came up to you and said something supportive. Just go back to that time and pluck out of it. Maybe it was a physical therapist who was really nice, understanding, supportive, made you feel a little more comfortable and a little less worried. So go back and picture that and stay there for a bit. [Deep in thought, keeps eyes closed].
OK, so I want you to open your eyes and shake yourself about. And here are the two places: you realize when you were in the angry place you weren't thinking of anything sweet, and when you were in the sweet place, you weren't thinking of anything angry. You can't be in two emotional places at the same time. It is not physically or psychologically possible, but you can take yourself from one place to the other. You just proved that to yourself.
So this is what I want you to do: I want you to anticipate going to the gym and let that ugly feeling come up, and I want you at your desk at work to just close your eyes for a moment, put your hands on your quadriceps and let your body relax. And I want you to go back to the physical therapy with the machines when something nice happened. Just go there. If you have to do that a few times before you go to the gym - fine. If after you go to the gym you start getting into that place again, all you have to do is allow yourself to do this right at the gym. You don't even have to leave - just hold on to something so you don't fall over or just find a place to sit, and I want you to keep bringing yourself back to that place.
Now, this is going to help you face what you need to do now to get physically fit. It's also going to help you realize that you have control over the emotions. What it's not going to do is fix that hurt. So here's how we do something more that fixes the hurt (so this is part three or four...I lost all my parts by now). When you're at the gym, look around for somebody having a hard time and go help them. Become that pleasant experience that you had for somebody else. It's amazing how when we are in the hurt and "what I didn't get" and "what I didn't get" place, that when we are solicitous to somebody else, how we come out of that ugly place. That's what I think you ought to do, and I appreciate that you asked me the question. Now follow through or I'll come to your house and pinch your head off!