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Charlestown artist raises awareness for PTSD with his work

The Evening News and The Tribune - 6/6/2023

Jun. 6—CHARLESTOWN — According to the National Center for PTSD, there is an estimated 6% of the U.S. population that has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In 2009, Rick Gideons had begun working for Emergency Medical Services and then eventually became a paramedic. He ended up breaking his legs and had to retire from the EMS.

PTSD is something that Gideons has struggled with his whole life, from having a traumatic childhood, being in the army and his time as an EMS worker.

After breaking his legs and being forced to retire, Gideons was seeing everything that he had worked toward and devoted his life to be taken away from him. That, along with every other struggle he has lived with, caused a downward spiral into his PTSD.

"I was going to lose it if I didn't do something drastic," Gideons said. "That's when I decided to get help for my PTSD."

Gideons started taking Ketamine infusion treatments at Serenity Health, 6400 Dutchmans Parkway, Suite 205, Louisville, where they specialize in Ketamine treatments.

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic used medically for induction and maintenance of anesthesia; it can also be used as a treatment for PTSD and depression.

"I remember after my first treatment, I came home and took a nap, when I woke up, everything was different," Gideons said. "My mind was quiet, the static was gone. I remember hearing the birds chirping and it was so loud, because my mind was quiet. I felt like I never before, my anxiety was gone, my energy was back."

Starting out, he took treatments three times a week for two weeks and then moved on to monthly treatments.

The treatments became too expensive and Gideons had to stop because he had to pay out-of-pocket.

After quitting the treatments, he picked up his tablet and started to explore his artistic side, a side of himself that he had not explored since grade school.

"I was really into art and drawing in grade school," Gideons said. "Once I got out, I didn't have a lot of time to commit to my artistic and creative endeavors."

His art is something that helps him express the feelings and emotions he has trouble putting into words. Gideons' art also helps makes subjects such as PTSD and mental illness an easier topic for him to talk about.

"I've been trying to show how I've been able to take my PTSD and use it as the reason for my greatness, not a limitation to it," Gideons said.

He also joined Code EMS Peer Support, based out of Louisville, where he and other current and former EMS workers can support each other through their struggles.

For those who need help with mental illnesses, there are many resources in Southern Indiana. Indiana Center for Recovery, 601 North Shore Drive Suite 102-103, Jeffersonville, has many services.

"Post traumatic stress, it affects everybody," Gideons said. "It doesn't matter what race, creed, color, age. Everybody can be affected and it affects everybody differently."

Two people could witness the same event and it could be traumatizing to one person, but not the other, or it could be traumatizing to both of them, but could affect them in completely different ways, Gideons added.

Now Gideons is a stay-at-home-dad where he and his wife raise their son and he creates art.

"It's been an amazing journey so far," Gideons said. "It's (his art) really helped me understand myself better, which in turn helped me to understand the world around me."


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