The following is what I needed someone to explain, simply. I needed PTS to be demystified and I needed to know that I was having normal reactions to abnormal situations. What was the passcode to take the chaos and make some sense of things? Here is my version of what I needed.  It is a very simple version of an extremely complex diagnosis.  Hope it helps those of you that have it, those of you that know someone who does and those of you that wish to gift the world with a sense of balanced compassion.PTS requires having at least one life threatening experience combined with a moral compromise*. The life threatening event could be as simple as a motor vehicle collision, combined with the rules of the road being broken. It could also be far more complex than a one time event.  It could be cumulative and complex because of repeated exposure to events. The circumstances surrounding 911 workers, corrections, and those that have lived/worked in combat zones make for rich fodder, when it comes to “catching” PTS. Conversely, not everyone who plays with a petrie dish “catches” the germs.

Regardless of who “gets” PTS, not everyone who “gets” it lives with symptoms the rest of their life.  In other words, PTS is similar to the common cold.  It is possible for anyone to “catch” a cold, but unlikely pneumonia will develop. Even for those that do develop pneumonia, not all will live with life altering side effects. Further that, not all who develop PTS live with permanent, life altering, side effects – this is hopeful and important to remember.

In my opinion, PTS is, an injury not a disorder. Once it is recognized, understood, and accepted, growth can result.  Regardless of the positive bi-product called “growth” it is not a method of learning that anyone would ever ask for, or deserve. Once lived, it is something no one would wish on any other person.

Regardless if it is a metaphorical common cold or pneumonia, trust is compromised with PTS.  It is that simple. Safely learning to trust is critical to healing and being healthy. Start with trusting yourself and trusting your confusion. Once you start trusting again then rainbows will come out of the fog.

rainbows do exist

This water tower has been a study for me during some very tough times. Last week I tripped over the rainbow. Literally tripped!  I was so exited to see a rainbow I fell on top of the makeshift stool I was using to capture the image. Laughter is another way to produce tears and I found myself laughing at my behaviour, and producing tears of joy.

*The following is are links further explaining PTS.

It takes a lot to be diagnosed with PTSD. There are very strict requirements and it is often mis-diagnosed. What was written above is an incredibly simple version of something very complex. If you wish to be more informed, have a read of the linked medical document by Bessel van der Kolk. Know that what is written on the website is lived experience, not medical.  There is much merit to lived experience, particularly when driven by a determination to turn a “disorder” into “growth”. That merit is evident on the website, but the medical expertise is to be sourced elsewhere.

To make reviewing the  link to the Bessel van der Kolk article on the Assessment and Treatment of Complex PTSD easier here are some points:

  • Page 3 has a list of indicators in a person’s life that predisposes them to PTSD.
  • Table 5 (page 12&13) gives you an idea of what someone with PTSD may have to manage.
    • Please note that those symptoms may not be visible to the public or even to person themself.
  • At the top of page 15 there are five points for a phase oriented treatment plan.

Further recommended reading: “The Body Keeps The Score” by Bessel van der Kolk.

A real rainbow!


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