ASHTABULA, Ohio — On this day that celebrates our independence as Americans, Melinda Pillsbury-Foster wants every resident of Ashtabula County to be free of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well.
Once that goal is accomplished, she wants to move on to the next county, the next state, until every American with PTSD has found freedom.
“I want to see Ashtabula become a PTSD-free zone,” said Pillsbury-Foster, founder of the Ashtabula Renewal for Life Optimization.
The Ashtabula resident is launching her effort at a website that will eventually contain resources for locally grown food, rebuilding Main Avenue and helping the community help itself.
She feels that PTSD is a condition that affects far more people than veterans returning home from war or victims of violent crime. Pillsbury-Foster, who worked with PTSD veterans, also noticed that many people who have gone through America’s court system display many of the same symptoms as war-weary veterans.
It does not stop there, however. Many Americans who have lost their homes or jobs in the Great Recession or workers locked in jobs with no hope of advancement, increased pay or satisfaction also eventually exhibit symptoms of this trauma. Taxpayers who fall under the scrutiny of an IRS agent also frequently come away with PTSD, she said. And every American who is victimized by corporate greed and control can, at the very least, identify with the traumatized veteran or harrassed taxpayer.
Symptoms include fear, uncertainty, chronic anxiety, anger/rage and feeling like a trapped animal. There simply seems to be no means of escape.
“A lot of them turn to drugs and alcohol, and their health deteriorates from all the stress,” Pillsbury-Foster said.
The moderator of rumormillnews.com, which gets 50 million hits a month, Pillsbury Foster is a columnist for the Iconoclast in Texas and has been involved in many organizations dedicated to enacting positive change. An early member of the Libertarian Party, she is the author of “Greed,” The NeoConning of America” and several poetry books. She is the mother of six children, one of them deceased.
She arrived in Ashtabula from southern California six months ago. Her work for the rumormillnews site drew her to the city, home of its former moderator. Pillsbury-Foster revamped the popular site and is now turning her attention to healing her adopted home town.
“It’s a different experience from anything I’ve ever had in my life,” she says, diplomatically summing up the culture shock of coming to Ashtabula from California.
In the weeks to come, ashtabularenewal.org will add information on PTSD treatment modalities outside the realm of traditional medicine, modalities that she said are proven effective in actually reversing PTSD while empowering people to take back their lives and communities.
In the next few weeks, she will be working with a 29-year-old woman who suffers from PTSD as a result of a school shooting she witnessed some 15 years ago. Pillsbury-Foster is teaming up with an alternative medicine practitioner who uses neuro-feedback to treat PTSD.
She personally became a believer after just one treatment.
“A week later, I noticed I had no anxiety,” she said. Further, as she researched the method, Pillsbury-Foster discovered that “people get over not being able to drive for years, not being able to come out of the house. ... A lot of them have a hard time believing that something can help them that rapidly.”
The volunteer’s progress will be documented on video, which Pillsbury-Foster will share on the new website.
Luanna Hale of the Wellness and Total Learning Center said that the resources Pillsbury-Foster brings to the city will expand the alternatives for residents who don’t want to maintain their illnesses but actually repair the damage.
“It’s another possibility, another way to look at it,” Hale said.