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July 14, 2010

Face Facts

From the book "I Will Not Be Broken" by Jerry White

No matter what trauma you are exposed to, you have to face the fact that it happened, that it is in the past and you can't change it but what can be change is the future.

When the writer was in the hospital after losing his right leg in a landmine explosion, when he had to wheel himself down to the lunch hall during the recovery time, at the beginning he didn't appreciate that he was the one who is doing that. He would think to himself "don't they see the bloody stump?". But he did it and wheeled himself. When he reached the lunch hall he met a lot of people who were exposed to a different kind of trauma. He remembers an old guy who had been in the hospital for months going through rehabilitation having a prosthesis above his knee, telling him "don't worry you'll have your own fake leg one day". These people helped him to get through a very difficult time.

Being in the hospital, Jerry had to face the fact that he lost his leg and he had to deal with it. He started to appreciate his stump. He had six months of rehab to go through. The staff really helped him. If the staff was too sympathetic or pitying, he would probably have sunk into a funk, Jerry says.

People react differently to trauma, some will have intense emotions, some will react with denial, anxiety, frustration, guilt, anger, hopelessness, depression, etc. Dealing with these feelings is the way to get over them and proceed to recovery. Feeling self pity is normal but when it progresses it will lead to negative effects on the survivor. At one point a survivor has to stop feeling self pity and start to move on with life by accepting the facts. For the writer, the key to preventing self pity was outing it. Every survivor has the options and choices to change his/her life to the better by focusing on the things that they have and the things that they can change and do rather than focusing on what they lost or can't change.