‘Is trauma a big deal? That experience was a long time ago get over it? But look at you now! You look great you are successful so what’s your problem? Stop grabbing attention you’ll be fine. It will all be OK in the morning, you see’
Over the years these are just a few of the things ‘friends’ have said to me when I’ve tried to speak to them about childhood traumas, to the extent where I choose never to talk about my issues from fear of disbelief, accusation of seeking attention, ridicule, information being used against me and being ostracised as a ‘troubled’ person.
Quite frankly any trauma that we suffer past or present, whilst as a child or as an adult has to be dealt with, as trauma lives in the body and will grow and mutate into all manner of physical and mental disorders.
Dr Karen Treisman at the Tri-borough Virtual School conference in June 2017 (that I was privileged to attend and speak at see other blogs) spoke about the importance of dealing with trauma in schools including not to ‘slap a trauma’ diagnosis on everything, as we have to allow room for children to development as a whole as well.
However, the importance of recognizing the root of trauma in young children, adolescents or adults is important as it will prevent the ‘cutting off the fruit’ mentality that misappropriated psychology can produce. As an adult listening to your own heart and healing is imperative, asking real questions even the simple ones of ‘do I feel better’ is important as to not over diagnose, under diagnose or be dealing with the fruit of a behavior and not the root cause.
When trauma enters the body I believe it fractures identity, and the healthy bodily equilibrium becomes altered of mind, body and spirit, altering the core structures of developmental skills for example.
Dr Karen put a slide up at the conference of why school might be harder for young people experiencing trauma, I was interested to think how trauma even for an adult has similar debilitating effects.
Missed schooling/absences/multiple moves
Issues with relationship with authority and power-trusting adults/relinquishing control to adults
Sense of safety is lost – a person can become overly ‘clingy’ or shut down and fearful.
Live out of survival mode – The use of the ‘survival mode only’ in the brain means that the higher sections in the brain linked with problem solving and creativity are not being utilized, resulting in a huge early learning deficiency and mental imbalance. Fight or flight is the only option.
Cognitive and executive function difficulties.
For adults like children the seesaw of trauma/attachment issues is still relative.
On one side you have: Fear, insecurity, threat, danger, survival mode, feeling unsafe, arousal level and dysregulation
And on the other side of the balance you have: Exploring, learning, curiosity, play, safety and cognitive ability.
*Without correct professional/knowledgeable support to understand any of these complex mental states and re-align the balance, a person can be left seriously shut down in whole areas of their lives.
I can testify that many of the issues surrounding trauma and attachment as an adopted young person I struggled with for years, and following 2 years of counseling and many more years of personal reading and study, I was able to reclaim lost areas of development. Wellbeing is so important to apply if one is to have a happy and stable life.
This article is brilliant, ask yourself – have you ever suffered from ACE – adverse childhood experiences and addictions? This article joins up the dots for you.
ACE TOO HIGH ? by Jane Ellen Stevens in May 2017
Recovery is about talking back responsibility for your life and refusing to let your past present or future dictate to you a negative outcome. Can you change your destiny? I believe yes, knowledge is power when applied correctly and over a sustained period or periods of time.
Dr Karen spoke of a child in survival mode is not so much attention seeking concerning bad behavior but actually attention needing. The body has a memory both good or bad, information is stored in the heart and mind alike so to restructure pain it has to be dealt with.
So now what?
Dr Karen wisely spoke of the importance to see bad behavior in a child as the opportunity to gather ‘data’, ‘its easy to get bogged down with extreme behavior for example lying or violence but we have to learn to de-code the messages. Only then can we connect firstly with a child before trying to correct.’
I guess as an adult we can learn to recognize our triggers, know our own ‘hotspots’, areas that we know can trigger emotional outbursts or negative behavior’s in ourselves which can also be brought on by challenging behavior in others.
The injection of trust.
It’s interesting how trust as a foundation with someone helps to build positively and hope. Trauma makes you feel powerless, out of control and that awful things are being done to you and no one can stop it.
Trust opens the door to hope, peace and love. Building into another a tower of their strengths, accomplishments a ‘positive patchwork’ as Dr Karen said which some teachers have literally made with the child to help them to focus on something good. We all know that mice can be re-programmed to overcome negative fears, we are similar, new words and experience all help to restructure a painful past.
If teachers/parents/guardians today are being taught about the complexity of trauma therapy and attachment disorders it could help prevent so much pain and suffering entering into our society. There are currently 700,400 children in the care system at the moment, and if you think about how many children have grown up and become adults without having any help, care or support the heart hurts.
I see this as being the ‘scarlet fever’ of our day, we have the antidote and solutions but we need to get the information out.
Could it affect you? Well yes, adoption/fostering/care affects a quarter of the population in some way, so learning more about how do deal with others challenging behavior more wisely could help. But at the end of the day – trauma is trauma, if something awful happens to you then remembering some of this information could help you get back on your feet sooner rather than later or never.
I see emotional wellbeing as much as a lifesaver as basic first aid.
Some of you may be thinking ‘Love is enough’, well yes and no, love with knowledge and understanding is powerful, but I believe that just blind love when dealing with such complex issues sadly isn’t enough.
Thank you for reading.
To find out more about Dr Karen Treisman please do visit her website