Guest Blog: Kristen Elise and her Vestibular Healing Journey (Part 2)

My Healing and Recovery Journey

This blog post is all about my journey of healing and recovering from PPPD. If you haven’t yet read part 1 of my story, check that out!


While still struggling alone, things began to shift for me in a positive way when I discovered the field of neuroplasticity -- the idea that I could literally rewire my brain through repeating more helpful thoughts and actions. I began reading, watching, and learning everything I could on neuroplasticity for healing chronic dizziness. I joined Joey Remenyi’s (Vestibular Audiologist) Facebook group, completed her online neuroplasticity program, and read her book, “Rock Steady.”


While all of this was helpful and definitely gave me hope, my symptoms were still quite elevated, and at many times, I felt like a “failure” for not being able to heal fast enough or how others in the group spoke about. I also had doubts and felt like maybe I was the “odd one out,” and this healing approach wouldn’t work for me, in the same way it did for others. I knew I was on the right track…but I still felt alone.

Feeling alone with dizziness - finding balance with yoga and meditation

I continued to seek out guidance, especially from those who deeply understood this condition. The beautiful Emma, from Balance Your Life Now, coached me through using neuroplasticity for healing. I can’t recommend her YouTube videos and coaching enough, as she is a survivor herself, and completely healed PPPD through neuroplasticity.


During this time, I also got settled into a sacred home in Denver, CO. I was finally grounded and rooted down. What a blessing! I began doing a specific type of therapy called Exposure Response Prevention (ERP). This therapy was extremely helpful for me getting out of the anxious – dizzy – anxious cycle I had been in. With this modality, I literally made myself dizzy on purpose (via spinning in circles) to habituate myself to the feeling of being dizzy. In this way, my brain stopped labeling being dizzy as a threat or important, and slowly, but surely, my dizziness became “boring” and “every day,” and began to fade into the background of my awareness.


Alongside this CBT-based therapy, I sought out the support of a physical therapist who truly

understood vestibular conditions -- the fabulous Jess. She provided reassurance, clinical practices (VRT) exercises, and set achievable goals for me. Through the VRT work, I strengthened my vestibular system, and especially my visual operation, as I found that was a huge trigger for my dizziness. Doing these practices was also a form of “exposure” as I learned to no longer respond to intentionally triggering my dizziness in an anxious or heightened way. Above all, Jess normalized my experience and was such a stabling force for me through the ebb and flow of healing my vestibular system.


Meditating every morning was (and still is) crucial for my wellbeing. Sometimes, my

meditations were standing or seated body scans, other days I needed to focus on my breath or tend to “parts” that were feeling heightened emotions. (I use the very practices I found most helpful for healing, such as Internal Family Systems, in the meditations I guide in our Yoga for Balance series). Continuing to practice yoga and meditation helped me to feel safe and further supported the building of new healthy neural networks. Suddenly this vague and intangible topic of neuroplasticity was coming home in a real way for me. I was living and embodying neuroplasticity healing, without even really realizing it.


Yoga for balance - Meditation and mindfulness to promote neuroplasticity

To sum it up, I rapidly began to heal when I no longer feared the dizziness. When it no longer mattered whether it was around or not, it lost its power over me. The less I checked to see if it was present, the more it dissolved into the background of my awareness. I found myself exercising again, driving freely, enjoying busy social events, and continuing to push the boundaries I had placed upon myself prior, when I had been so lost in fearing the symptoms. I was building my confidence back in big ways.


Me Now

I am proud to say that through the emotional work, exposure therapy, yoga, active

neuroplasticity practice, and VRT, the struggle and suffering is something very much of the past. After achieving full recovery, I decided to make it my mission to serve the vestibular community in a deep way. I know how these conditions and symptoms have a way of making you feel very alone, and it can feel so tough to get the care and treatment you need.


I created the Balance Yoga Facebook group and teamed up with Jess, my amazing Physical Therapist, to make healing more accessible and widespread to this community. Jess was a powerful figure in truly helping me to overcome, and because of that, I knew her expertise needed to be shared WAY more broadly with the vestibular community. Together, we created the comprehensive vestibular healing series, Yoga for Balance. Jess teaches the clinical yoga, and I guide meditation and mindfulness. We both feel so honored to know of the lives we have touched and the profound healing that has occurred for participants

since launching in January of 2022.

Kriste - dizziness and PPPD survivor.  Yoga for Balance

Reflections

Experiencing vestibular conditions and recovering from them takes so much strength and

courage. This work is not easy. It changes you – everything about who you are, how you

perceive the world, and your relationship to the external and your internal environment. I look back now, with gratitude for having experienced what I did, as it awakened me to my strength and deepened my inner connection. Surrendering to this change process is crucial for healing.


I practice acceptance. I know that I will always have a sensitive vestibular and nervous system – that’s just the way I’m wired. I know that neck alignment, tight neck muscles, and stress have huge impacts on the way I feel. These physical aspects that make me who I am won’t change, and I know I can’t always control my external environment, but who I am on the inside and how I respond to these forces is where my power lays. That part of me has changed drastically.


My healing journey ultimately empowered me. As the poet Rumi so beautifully says, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you,” and I don’t think that could be any truer.


In Closing

As I close, I just want to say... Thank you. For being here. For reading my story and sharing in

my vulnerability. And, for embarking on and actively participating in your healing journey. It

takes courage, and I am so glad you are here.


And above all, I really want you to know that you are not alone, and you do not have to do this alone. We are here for you... this community is here for you! Please know this is a safe space to express. You are held and known here.


Giving you a BIG hug,

Kristen Elise


https://www.kristenbredar.com/



Kristen Bredar, yoga for neuroplasticity healing journey

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