Lyn Williams-Keeler
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Lyn Williams-Keeler

Traumatologist opens up about being Claustrophobic: ‘Don’t let fear dictate your life!’

An overpowering fear that is capable of both immobilizing your entire body and affecting the way you hear things, see people, and even how you sleep. You feel as if you’re constantly in danger, and have no control over your own body.

Lyn Williams-Keeler, might see you as a potential trauma victim.

Williams-Keeler first started out as a Research Associate at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Hospital. Since 1996, she is a certified clinical psychotherapist, specializing in assisting those who have gone through traumatic events.

Preppy and enthusiastic, she comes across as fearless. Yet, at a young age Williams-Keeler discovered that she is severely afraid of being enclosed in small areas.

“I’ve had Claustrophobia for my entire life,” she admitted staring down at her quivering hands.

There have been countless occasions in which Williams-Keeler has left buildings because of this phobia. To this very day, her biggest rival continues to haunt her wherever she goes, The Elevator.

“I’ve tried countless number of times to ride up the elevator,” she laughs nervously, playing with the gold rings on her fingers. “Each time I’d step on, I always ended up chickening-out and launching myself out before the doors shut.”

On an unlucky day a few years back, Williams-Keeler built up enough courage to take the elevator to the top floor of a very tall building for a meeting, or so she thought. “Worst mistake of my life,” she said, shaking her head. “I’d never been so scared in my entire life, I almost passed out.”

As a professional traumatologist, Williams-Keeler often uses her personal experiences to form strong relations and connections with her patients. Fear and trauma often go hand-in-hand and are surely nothing to be ashamed of. Even though she mainly works alongside adults, she wishes to pass a message to everyone who might be seeking mental aid.

“Don’t be afraid to make yourself vulnerable,” she said.

There is no way of completely being cured of mental trauma. However, according to Williams-Keeler, medication can ease some of the stress and many of her patients with sleeping disorders resort to marijuana (for medical purposes). Instead of having the objective of ‘getting rid’ of the issue, she teaches her patients with PTSD how to cope with all the reoccurring memories.

“You can’t really be cured of PTSD, you can only learn how to live with it,” she states confidently.

There are many tests that can reveal if a subject has experienced a traumatic event. “Trauma has an enormous effect on your imagination,” she explains, her shaky hands motioning towards her center of her head. According to her studies, the images in inkblots seen by those who have PTSD vary immensely from those who are mentally healthy. “Instead of seeing that picture of a butterfly or a flower, you see can see some pretty horrid things that have the potential of bringing back some traumatic memories,” she continued, as she paints splotchy images on the table with her fingertips.

Being both heavily influenced and fascinated by the survival of those who have undergone traumatic life changing events, Williams-Keeler plans to remain in her adventures as a clinical traumatologist, and continue mentally rehabilitating those in need for quite a few more years before considering retirement.

In her perspective, no one should ever have to live in fear of something.

“In order to be able to truly help people and understand their fears, you have to understand your own first.” she comments. “Don’t let fear dictate your life!”


Written by: Kassya Murray