My name is Katherine F.H. Heart. I’m a survivor who found a path to post-trauma wellness. My blog is about exploring the path – past, present and future – to creating a “new normal healthy lifestyle.” Here I am on the path where the transformation took place!
I experienced nine years of child sexual abuse. What matters is that I escaped and thrived. I became an award-winning scholarship athlete at the University of Pittsburgh, where I earned college degrees in health and physical education. I managed nonprofit fitness and health programs. I worked as an advocate and training coordinator at rape crisis and victim service agencies until a major life event triggered severe PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in 1992.
Over the next 15 years, I had 27 inpatient hospital stays. I felt so hopeless! I started smoking for the quick high, gained 125 pounds, developed diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol. By 2007, I was taking 14 medications and eight insulin shots daily. The psychiatric meds caused Medication-Induced Parkinsonism and Tardive Dyskinesia, which are serious and often permanent side-effects.
I decided to take charge of my own recovery. I joined the 10×10 Wellness Campaign, a federal initiative aimed at reducing the risk of premature, preventable deaths of people with mental health problems sponsored by SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
I searched for and found effective treatment. Brainspotting, a promising new brain-based psychotherapy, helped me to finish processing the leftover feelings and memories. With PTSD resolved, I could tackle the physical health problems in consultation with my healthcare team. I’ve been smoke-free for more than five years now, achieved a healthy weight, blood pressure and cholesterol, and was able to taper off medications.
I started a social enterprise company, Heart Resources, LLC to spread wellness. I assist nonprofits to develop fitness, health and wellness programs and write grants for funding. Effective programs are needed for people who experience psychological, financial and other barriers in the community. Heart Resources, LLC has helped to win millions of dollars in grants from corporations, foundations, United Way and government funders. One of the programs was awarded a Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Grant.
I co-founded and am a coach for Turtle Team, a fitness walking team for people in recovery to participate together in the Pittsburgh Great Race 5K during National Recovery Month in September. Some of my posts will share experiences with Turtle Team. The photos here were taken on the path where I found wellness, and Turtle Team workouts happen along the Monongahela River at the Waterfront in Homestead, PA.
I’m thrilled to have been selected for a 2012-13 SAMHSA Voice Awards Fellowship. Through this Fellowship, I have an opportunity to share insights and resources in presentations, social media, and this blog about the personal side of the journey of recovery and wellness. From survivor to survivor, we want to finish therapy and live a long, healthy and happy life. Yes, it’s real and possible! I hope you will join me on this path and use my blog to ask questions, get straight answers, discuss the issues, get resources, and share your own discoveries and passion. Please join me on the path by sharing your thoughts. I’ll be excited to meet you!