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DRUMBOXING: The Experience

Some say that timing is everything. I constantly try to debunk this, and time after time, I am proven wrong. Drumboxing has once again proven me wrong, and I’m grateful! It’s been 6 months, 50 sessions, and timing couldn’t be more prime for a review of my experience.

My first session was November 11, 2023. This date has always been important to me seeing as I come from a long line of Veterans and recently, after learning more about my ancestry, it means even more to me. I decided to do my first session that day since I had just heard of Drumboxing and was looking for something to do in honor of our Veterans, and well; you had me at drumming and boxing!

What I wasn’t expecting to find was the key to healing wounds I had been trying to mend for most of my life. Let me explain. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist and have been working on my own generational trauma for over 20 years. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, now as a therapist, I understand what I was doing. Why is this significant? Because Drumboxing became my form of trauma therapy. Many of you might be familiar with EMDR, Somatic Healing, Breathwork, and Mindfulness. Drumboxing is a harmonious blend of all these techniques. Over the past six months, it has provided me with intensive therapy, and John in a way, became my therapist. I joke about it, but he truly did!

October of 2019 began what has been the most emotionally and physically difficult 4 years of my life. I was completing my Masters in Psychology and working on a project detailing extremely unsettling statistics from our military when I received notification that my cousin, who had recently discharged from military service, had died by suicide. This shook me to my core for so many reasons. It also was just the beginning of loss and grief experienced over the next several years. I won’t share all the details, but between losing several loved ones, having a life altering surgery, having a severe reaction to two different pharmaceuticals, being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and navigating a new career as a therapist during a pandemic, definitely sent me into an existential crisis. During the existential crisis, I was thrown into an identity crisis in July of 2022 when I received an Autistic diagnosis. The diagnosis was not too surprising, however it led to the discovery of other things that were surprising. Since then, I have been grasping at thin air, throwing spaghetti at the wall and trying to figure out who I am and what am I doing in this life?

Over the past 4 years, I have worked with many different doctors, therapists and coaches. All of them were great in their own way, and none of them provided me much relief. As a matter of fact, some of them actually made things worse. I don’t blame them or have ill feelings towards them, it’s just the situation and the lack of efficient research on neurodiversity, female hormones, and the negative side effects of pharmaceuticals. It is also due to the lack of understanding how Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), which is not even an official diagnosis yet, impacts the entire body; physically, mentally and spiritually.

By January 2024, I was unable to sit quietly for more than a few minutes at a time. If I was lucky to get to sleep, I would have nightmares and night sweats. Brain fog was an unwanted roommate. My living room floor became my best friend and cheerleader in an attempt of some form of stretching and strength training, and I was grateful for Amazon Fresh. I was using all the therapeutic skills I teach my clients and added in the ones doctors and other therapists recommended, and though I was grateful they had carried me through the toughest times, none of them were providing me sustainable relief. This is where Drumboxing filled in the gaps and provided me with sustainable healing.

I began doing classes 3 times per week. Like any social interaction, I was anxious in the beginning, but John and Christina were very welcoming and embraced my idea to utilize Drumboxing for therapeutic purposes. They were already in communication with neuroscientists, neuropsychiatrists and other MD’s and therapists alike, who expressed the neurological benefits of this exercise. As a matter of fact, John has clients who have been using it to slow the progression of Parkinson’s Disease, how cool is that!

About two months into my experience, I noticed that I could sit quietly for more than a few minutes. Not only could I sit quietly, I was craving the quiet again. Something I hadn’t experienced in years. I ended up spending a few days in complete silence, because I COULD! Oh peace…welcome back! Slowly I noticed the night sweats decreasing, I was experiencing more restful sleep and the nightmares were not as intense. The physical pain has been shifting from unbearable stiffness to the feeling of lactic acid buildup that many athletes crave; the sign of a good workout! My nervous system has calmed down and I’m no longer feeling like I have an unwanted electrical current pulsating through my entire body. For the first time in 4 years I am feeling emotionally, mentally and physically strong again.

Not only does Drumboxing combine all the most popular therapeutic modalities, it also added the community aspect for me. Since receiving the Autistic diagnosis, my entire life was flipped upside down; specifically in my career. Autistic individuals constantly battle with the decision to disclose or not disclose that they are Autistic. Then there is the battle between asking for accommodations or just masking and suffering through many of the unpleasant social interactions. My first experience with John and Christina created an environment that I felt safe in. I disclosed immediately that I was Autistic and never once did they make me feel less than or unwelcomed. As a matter of fact, they sat down with me a few times as I explained all of my thoughts and understanding of Autism, ADHD, PTSD and CPTSD, and how I have been experiencing them all. I never felt pity from them, which is another thing that tends to happen when you disclose that you are Autistic.

I spent the majority of time with John. John is amazing! He’s a master percussionist for the LA orchestra, so the music is bomb! Over 14 years ago he was asked to create a program for professional boxers to improve focus, agility and adaptability. Voila, Drumboxing is born. He’s also a great listener. Our 1:1 sessions were always the best. He’d put the gloves on me and have me go as hard as I could on the bag and mitts. Remember me talking about timing? Well, every time we had our 1:1 sessions they weren’t planned yet they were always perfectly timed! Why is that? Because a lot of what I have been processing was deep, rageful anger. So pounding on the mitts and heavy bag were just what I needed in those moments. He was also very good at adjusting for when I was tearful or anxious and needed a softer approach. Honestly, John has been like a big brother; constantly challenging me and also supporting me. He has helped me feel safe and find my self-confidence. I will forever be grateful.

Though I did not spend as much time with Christina, she also created a safe space for me. She was always kind, welcoming and supportive. She made me feel heard and understood, never judged for being Autistic and sometimes socially awkward. Again, something I am very grateful for.

My time Drumboxing is coming to an end; for a few different reasons. Now I’m off to master Brazilian Jui-Jitsu. Thank you Drumboxing for helping me re-center and find my flow, rhythm and timing again. You may not have a brick and mortar forever, but part of the charm and benefit is the flexibility Drumboxing forces you experience. I’m sure I’ll be back again, when the timing is right!

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