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Survivor Asks Professionals to Stop Seeing PTSD as Incurable

18 Oct

A survivor of decades of debilitating posttraumatic stress wrote this letter to selected military and volunteer mental health professionals, and copied us.  She is reacting to an AP article by Sharon Cohen, published on April 12, 2010, [Revolving door of multiple tours linked to PTSD], which describes PTS as something you just have to learn to live with, because the symptoms just don’t go away.  She refutes this, explaining,

“I am determined to keep speaking up until my time is up!  If just one person reads this and thinks,,,,just maybe this could be true for me,,,,,,,then it's worth it...” 

Here is what she wrote them:
As someone who struggled with long-standing, complex, pts for years before being diagnosed and when pts was still considered an intractable condition, may I share with you and the soldiers my truth of recovery and healing?
There are many pieces of my journey that played a part, none more significant or critical than a wonderful resource book:  Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal by Belleruth Naparstek, BCD, LISW.  The book contains 21 guided imageries that I read until they were firmly in my thoughts, recorded a few in my own voice, and since then I've listened to many of them via BR's cd's. Have also shared the imageries with "my vets" (family and dear friends) and many other folks.  

The guided imageries are wonderful to experience and are backed up by sound and documented research which makes them site specific to the part of the brain where pts lives.  As you know, pts symptoms need more specialized, targeted, mind-body treatments because of how/where the stuff is stored in the brain.  Guided imagery is a key piece of pts works...and I am living, breathing proof!
My heart grieved as I read these comments in the article:

"I don't believe that you get over it," he says. "I think you learn to live it with it. I think you learn not to let it control you. You learn to control it. That's where I am. It took a long time to get there."  Jeff Hall

"I tell people, 'Look, I'm going to have PTSD the rest of my life,'" Sam Rhodes

"It makes me tense in my shoulders and my back," he says, "but I can do it.. A while back, I wouldn't have had my back to the door. I just want to have a small farm," he says, "hang out with my family, grow vegetables and be left alone. I just don't want to be a part of it anymore."  Joe Callan

These sound like statements of powerlessness to me and we are so powerful and able to heal!

Especialliy in light of all the amazing new research and findings about brain plasticity, we know that PTS is no  longer a life sentence.  I certainly understand the desire to "just be left alone" as well as the pain and the exhaustion and the constant/intense hypervigilance and the anxiety/panic attacks and the false accusations of 'faking'/malingering, et al.  These feelings and experiences were all part of the illness and the challenges of recovery that I experienced.  
May I share with you that yes, I am forever changed by the experience and there is life on the other fact, a fuller, richer, deeper life. That I no longer wish to just be left alone...and I love being alone!  I would share that the physical pain that used to hover around 10+ is virtually gone...except for the normal aches and pains of the wonderful old age I couldn't imagine I would live to see!  I would share the feeling of triumph over my own dragons and fears and the freedom and contentment that mark my days now in the midst of quiet and abiding gratitude for this life, the lessons learned, the folks along the way who have held out their hands and opened their hearts.  
My good thoughts surround you all this day,
Belinda B.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award