Posted by: Judy | February 16, 2016

PTSD and Canned Dough

Canned dough is dough sealed in a can, under pressure at the factory. Pillsbury is famous for their biscuits, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, and crescent rolls in a can. It sits in the container through storage, shipping, at the store, and finally your refrigerator. It sits and sits and sits, harmless, the same size, never changing.

Until it’s time to use it.

You peal off the freshness outer wrapper. The dough is still safely in the container. Undisturbed. The same as it was when first placed in the specially lined cardboard-like container.

Sometimes, you can use a spoon to pop the seal. Other times, it takes hitting it against the counter. (I’ve used both methods.)

It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done this. I jump every single time the dough in the container bursts its seams. It doesn’t matter how I prepare. It doesn’t matter that I know exactly what will happen. It doesn’t matter that what happens is what’s supposed to happen.

Once it’s open, there’s a wide variety of things you can do with the dough, and it doesn’t have to be the intended use. I’ve used biscuits to make savory empanadas. I want to try the apple dumpling recipe, where you place an apple slice inside instead of a meat mixture. Cinnamon rolls can be cooked in a waffle iron. The biscuits can be cut up and made into monkey bread/pull-apart bread. The possibilities are only limited by a cook’s imagination.

Once the can is open, you can’t put the dough back in the can. It’s impossible. You can’t reseal it. You can’t rewrap it. The dough will never fit back into the can.

PTSD is like opening a can of dough. Once the experience has happened, you can’t undo it anymore than you can put the dough back in the can.

My sister and I have talked about our concern regarding those who want to go back to the way they were before PTSD. The dough is out of the can. You can complain about the dough being out of the can, but you can’t put it back. All you can do is see what you can do with it. You can complain about the PTSD but complaining won’t change what happened. All you can do is see what you can do with it.

There are disadvantages. Yes, I hear the chorus of “Well, duh.”

There are also advantages. Wait… what? Yes, advantages.

PTSD survivors first and foremost are survivors. Congratulations. Many don’t survive. Some… many wish they hadn’t. Been there. Done that. If I give up, the evil wins. Not. Going. To Happen. Not. Ever.

PTSD survivors possess the capacity for deep compassion. We’ve seen the evil of this world, and we know how difficult it is to survive it.

PTSD survivors are incredibly creative problem solvers. We have to be in order to function.

PTSD survivors are capable of giving and giving and giving. We’ve given so much we never should have had to give. We know what it is to give until there’s nothing left. Because we’re creative problem solvers, we are able to learn to give without being doormats.

PTSD survivors know about practicing. So many people never learn the value of practice.

PTSD survivors know how to do or die, except we’ve already said “No” to the dying part.

PTSD survivors are tenacious. We keep hanging on, trying,

PTSD survivors are courageous. We live through the terror and continue to hope someday we will conquer.

PTSD survivors are fighters. We fight for life.

PTSD survivors would never wish our nightmare on others, except in those few occasional moments when we wish others could understand. But only for a moment. We quickly amend the thought.

PTSD may be a life sentence, but it is not a death sentence. Life is a death sentence. No one escapes alive. PTSD is simply a part of my life. I’m not grateful for what brought PTSD into my life. I am grateful I’ve never allowed it to win. I’m still here. I win.




  1. I guess I have a hard time seeing the advantages of having PTSD. I’d give just about anything to have a mother who loved me — but as you say, the dough has burst from the can.

    • She had you, and I’m glad you’re here. Having her wasn’t the advantage. The PTSD itself isn’t an advantage, but there are things we’ve learned that are advantageous. My sister likes to point out that hyperawareness on the freeway is a definite advantage.

      • There you go making lemonade out of lemons 🙂

        • I love lemonade. It’s my drink choice when I eat out, unless I can have a chocolate milkshake, then it’s definitely a chocolate milkshake. 🙂

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