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PTSD Survivors Perspective: Changing Perspective, Part 2

Posted Feb 03 2010 12:00am

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 • •

lesan-21Last week LeSan got us started on redefining PTS(D). There’s been a great response to her idea, both from profssionals and survivors, both here and in the world of social media.

Today, LeSan takes us all the way through the rest of her thought process to a wonderful conclusion about why this idea of dropping the ‘D’ in PTSD is so important.

With a traumatic event there is an almost overwhelming amount of unprocessed information just jamming up the works. It makes everyday life nearly impossible. It would be as if you had an enormous program running on your computer and then tried to open a photo heavy disc. There are going to be some problems with that operation. This doesn’t mean your computer is dysfunctional or broken. It just means it’s working on something else.

While your brain was busy trying to protect you “the self” during the trauma it was also very busy collecting as much information as possible about the event. This is designed to inform and protect you from another such occurrence. This is not dysfunctional but rather the height of functionality. The problem occurs when we short circuit the process from completing itself.

All that information about a terrible life threatening event has now become the most important thing in the world to focus on as far as the mind is concerned. And why shouldn’t it be? You sanely concluded that what was happening was a seriously bad thing and to be avoided at all cost in the future. You would be crazy if you didn’t come to that conclusion. Nature tells you that if you do not understand and learn from an event you will not likely survive another. Trying to go on about your life as though the trauma had never happened is tantamount to throwing the car into reverse while driving 60mph down the freeway.

I have focused on redefining how we think of PTS because how you approach any task makes all the difference in your success or failure. Fighting the “symptoms” of PTS only serves to block your path through to your better future. The nightmares, anxieties, flashbacks and all those debilitating issues you deal with are valuable clues to unraveling the complex chaos of a horrible and incomprehensible event. No one wants to keep living the nightmare of their trauma but it will never go away until we turn around to face it, to finish it.  There is nothing wrong or dysfunctional with you. That your mind found a way to protect you and store up information that could save your life in the future is a profoundly powerful thing.  Be proud of that feat and honor the rest of the process. 

LeSan is an artist in every way: former President of Northwest Watercolor Society and Chairman for several national juried shows, she paints in oil, watercolor and pastel. She also sculpts in stainless steel mesh. She has taken the past couple of years off to build a garden and rebuild her reserves. You can see her personal progress at She says, “I would like to say that I hope to figure out the great mystery of my life before it’s over but I suspect that I am going to use up every last minute of living in process. It’s not a bad way to live.”

The opinions represented are solely those of the author. To contribute to “Survivors Speak” contact Michele.

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