Taking A Break From PTSD Recovery

August 28, 2014 Michele Rosenthal

Sometimes you just do have to step away.

Sometimes posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has to cease being the focus of your life, even if only for a few hours or minutes. Healing work can be draining; shoring up your mind and emotions with an experience outside the realm of PTSD can actually help your recovery reach a whole new level.

Design Your PTSD Vacation

Music can bring you confidence when you most need it. Also, participating in the power of the communal experience can lift you out of your own isolation and bridge the gap between yourself and the rest of the world. In my own PTSD recovery I used breaks as a way to remind myself that there was more to me than PTSD. And, I often put together music plus community by attending live concerts.

At times PTSD has to cease being your focus. Healing work can be draining; shoring up your mind with a non-PTSD experience can help your recovery.

When was the last time you reminded yourself that there's more to you than PTSD?

In the world's calendar there are built in days for rest, relaxation and checking out of the routine in which we all live. This weekend is Labor Day, which is a great time to stop laboring and just kick back for a second, a minute or even a whole day. What would you do if you weren't working so hard to survive survival?

Give Yourself An Experience

A few years ago I was reminded of these ideas when I went to see the Eagles Long road out of Eden tour. I'd had a long day of working with clients and helping them help themselves through the muck of trauma recovery. As I drove to the concert I was still thinking about how difficult healing is, and wishing there was an easier, faster way to heal.

Of course, since I had to slog through my own recovery years ago I know there isn't any simple, quick fix. What I found myself thinking was about how important it is to stop trying so hard to heal. Sometimes, the most successful element of PTSD recovery is trying hard to live. Or, taking steps to remember, or even discover for the first time, what it means to have a life, connect to it, and enjoy it.

At the Eagles concert, the band was dressed in black suits with white, Oxford shirts and black ties. They played for three hours to a packed house. There was no opening band, only the Eagles playing everything from 1971 to the present, including many of their own solo hits.

The very last song of the night was one of my personal favorites, "Desperado," sung while the stage was mostly in black with no video component and a white spot on Henley. I love this song anyway, but listening to it again and thinking of all our PTSD journeys, I thought it should be one of the PTSD anthems.

Take a look at the lyrics below. Don't they describe the PTSD isolation, struggle, and convoluted path? Don't they describe how the years go by, and how easy it is to recede further and further from yourself and those around you? Also, don't the final two lines offer hope for anyone who feels dissociated, detached and lost?

Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
You been out ridin' fences for so long now
Oh, you're a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin' you
Can hurt you somehow
Don't you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She'll beat you if she's able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet
Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can't get
Desperado, oh, you ain't gettin' no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they're drivin' you home
And freedom, oh freedom, well, that's just some people talkin'
Your prison is walking through this world all alone
Don't your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine
It's hard to tell the night time from the day
You're losin' all your highs and lows
Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away?
Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin', but there's a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it's too late

When you love yourself and let others love you, when you accept your right to the experience of love and the joy it can bring as easily as you accept your trauma(s), and when you come down from the PTSD fencepost and begin the long walk back toward yourself and a community, that's when you begin to heal. If you don’t make the effort to reconnect, then you remain in your prison, walking this world traumatized and alone. This weekend, let yourself out of the prison, even if only for a moment.

Michele is the author of Your Life After Trauma: Powerful Practices to Reclaim Your Identity. Connect with her on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and her blog on

APA Reference
Rosenthal, M. (2014, August 28). Taking A Break From PTSD Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Michele Rosenthal

September, 14 2014 at 4:34 pm

Really loved this story and it is so very true. All of it. Thank goodness we are able to see in others what we are going through and that there is an end..... a healing. We are so close to finding a way to make this a shorter less invasive process. The medications a lone can be traumatic. Thank you , it makes the journey bearable and yes letting go of the pain for a while teaches us how to let go and that we are more than our trauma.

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