Tell us about yourself. You can share as much or as little as you like. (This can include your job, your family).–
My name is Jason Nelson, I’m originally from a small town in Minnesota but now live in Mesa. I moved to Arizona almost 20 years ago on a whim and would not have changed a thing. Im married to my beautiful and amazing wife Tammy and we have 3 kids, Chase, Collin and Madison. I currently sit on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Burn Foundation and am co-owner of Exhale PTSD Recovery in Chandler.
June is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness month. Please feel free to share how PTSD has impacted your life
My PTSD story started on February 9th, 2014 with a cigarette break. I was working on a rental house I owned in Gilbert, all the normal stuff, painting, cleaning and repairing when I decided to take a cigarette break in the garage. At the time I had no idea but there was natural gas leaking from two pipes just in front of the house and unfortunately with the flick of a lighter I ignited a 1200 degree fireball that burned me over 80% of my body.
I was burned from my knees to my ankles and from my waist to my face, 60% of which were deep 3rd degree burns that nearly went down to muscle in some places. I was still conscious, screaming and begging for someone to help me. I remember running back thru the house, the skin on my hands looked like candle wax drippings. Luckily one of the neighbors heard the explosion and my screams and called 911. I remember the sirens, seeing the ambulance and first responders coming around the corner. I remember walking into the ambulance still screaming, within seconds a paramedic shot me up with something and I was out. I’d end up spending the next 200 days in the hospital, learning to walk again, talk again and feed myself, enduring trauma after trauma from medical procedures that were necessary to save my life.
Over the next few years I’d share the story of what happened that day and every day after that in great detail 100’s of times, mostly with other burn survivors to help support them in their journey of healing. It was almost like
looking in the mirror each time at where I had been a few years earlier, physically alive but mentally still broken.
The more and more I shared my story and spoke to other trauma survivors the more I realized that we are great at treating the physical person but there’s an even greater need to treat a persons mental health after a traumatic event. As i spoke to more and more survivors about my experiences with PTSD and tried to guide them into seeking help I had so desperately needed at my time, then the more I realized there wasn’t really anywhere that trauma survivors could go that specifically on PTSD in a residential setting.
Almost 5 years to the day of my life changing accident Exhale PTSD Recovery residential treatment program opened its doors to anybody suffering from PTSD and trauma. Exhale was designed around variety of researched-based treatment modalities including somatic resourcing, sensorimotor psychotherapy, yoga therapy, adventure therapy, EMDR, group therapy, art therapy, psychodrama, family therapy, internal family systems, and more.
Our goal from the day we opened was to promote a nurturing and compassionate environment that provides our guests with a high level of clinical care and recovery that they can’t find anywhere else. We created a community of wounded healers—a specialized team who have survived and recovered from trauma.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is struggling with PTSD, what would it be?–
PTSD just doesn’t magically disappear on its own, if you have PTSD or even think you do ask for help, its the best thing you can do for yourself.