A woman has shared how she manages her PTSD with primal screaming – even when that means scaring unsuspecting members of the public.
Cristina Alciati, 54, a fitness coach from Milan, who now lives in Essex, started getting panic attacks that felt as though they were happening ’24/7′ as a result of severe PTSD.
She suffered major trauma and was left looking for ways to cope.
She said: ‘For weeks and months, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t think.
‘I was just really scared of everything, even things that nobody should be scared of. Like I’d see a leaf moving the wrong way, and just like a racehorse, I’d jump ahead.
‘It was literally ruining my life, because I couldn’t really function like a normal person anymore.’
Cristina said that she went on to seek professional help from the NHS, and that’s when she was diagnosed with PTSD – but unfortunately, getting help was not a straightforward process.
‘I think it started in childhood,’ she said, looking back. ‘I was raised in a very violent environment, and the surroundings that I grew up in meant that I was on edge all the time from a very young age.
‘But it wasn’t until more bad things happened that it came to a head. Then it was an adventure trying to get help.’
Cristina went to her doctor, but was unable to get help on the NHS, so then reached out to a mental health charity – but it had a long waiting list.
After nine months, she started counselling – something she said was ‘worth every minute of the wait.’
While Cristina said that she benefited from therapy, she also had to come up with her own additional solutions to deal with her trauma.
She turned to art, Photoshop, parkour and singing to help, but it wasn’t until she found primal screaming that something clicked.
‘I met my friend Jo Ellul, who used to sing in a band called Terrorvision that were quite famous in the 90s. She’s since become a voice coach. She said, “Oh, I’ll help you with that”,’ she said.
As Cristina’s friend was in a rock band, and she’s always been a fan of that type of music, it wasn’t long before she was tackling her PTSD by death metal screaming.
‘The whole thing degenerated into death metal screaming lessons and which neither of us is any good at, but it we ended up spending hours laughing on Zoom,’ she said of the lessons, which took place during the pandemic.
‘That was the part that really helped the recovery. It was laughing and also screaming, which is a good way to let go of the anger.
‘If you’ve been silenced for some reason, and you just let it all out in a way that’s not confrontational, it comes up just gives you a massive, amazing release.
‘It is best done under supervision because it also dredges up a lot of emotions that are stuck in your body.’
She had to do it when the neighbours weren’t home ‘because otherwise I’d have got an ASBO’.
‘You have to do the screaming in a way that doesn’t destroy your vocal cords and causes you problems. It’s more fun now because I can scream in tune now,’ she added.
Cristina has no plans of stopping her primal screaming, even though it has received shocked reactions from her partner and strangers alike.
‘I go to sleep when I listen to that stuff – it’s the kind of music that relaxes me,’ she said.
‘I used to go to the stables [to see my horse] and go for a walk around the farm, thinking I was on my own. Then I screamed and turned around there was a jogger coming up to me from behind.
‘I didn’t realise because I had my headphones in for the music – there were people walking their dogs too.’
Cristina sees the funny side to this, which has happened many times, although she doesn’t deliberately do her death metal screaming in front of other people.
She said: ‘I used to stand in the middle of a field, and although there were houses in the distance, I did it in the winter when it was dark, and I said, “Okay, nobody is going to hear me,” and then the lights would come on.’
Cristina is now hoping she can encourage others with PTSD to think outside of the norm when it comes to their recovery.
She said: ‘It was really helpful to speak with a counsellor for six months, but the unconventional stuff is a good way of releasing it too. It’s about following your instincts.’
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