Do you suffer from mental health issues? But tell yourself it can’t be childhood related as your parents are ‘good people’ and your childhood was ‘normal’?
Trauma doesn’t just mean you experienced a tragic event, or were physically hurt. Many kinds of childhood trauma are psychological or emotional.
And what your adult brain has decided about your childhood is irrelevant. Childhood trauma cannot be changed by what you think now, or what seems ‘logic’ to you.
Childhood trauma is not even about what ‘really’ happened, it is experiential. It is about what your child mind perceived as happening. That is what will affect your patterns of thinking and behaviour well into adulthood, not someone else’s explanation and perspective of ‘what really happened’.
Well-known forms of childhood trauma include:
Other forms of childhood trauma are environmental, such as:
And then there is emotional and psychological trauma:
If you had a few solid years of good parenting in a safe environment, you might be more resilient to a later trauma than a child who didn’t. And two children can experience the same truama, with one growing up with more mental health issues than the other. We all have different personalities.
But saying trauma is okay as children are resilient is a dangerous generalisation, and a terrifying way to undermine the very real long-term affects of trauma.
A child’s brain is still growing, and is more vulnerable to trauma than an adult brain. Research shows that trauma directly affects the growth of things like the cortex, which affects behaviour and learning.
And of course children do not have the same options for dealing with stressors that adults do. They can’t walk out the door and rent their own apartment, or turn to a wise friend.
Yes, children can ‘forget’ trauma. But evidence of the trauma will plague their adult years via psychological and behavioural issues.
Not sure if what your experienced as a child does or doesn’t count as childhood trauma?
Consider some of the general mental health issues that childhood trauma contributes too:
Childhood trauma is also connected to mental health disorders like the following:
Yes, self help is a good start. And there are useful forums online so that you can get informed and talk to others who know what you went through.
But childhood trauma runs deep. Getting to the roots can release long repressed emotions and memories that can be really overwhelming. And turning to friends and family can cause problems if they are in any way implicated in the trauma.
So of all psychological issues, this is one it's essential to have support with, particularly if you suspect you suffered abuse. Working with an experienced counsellor or psychotherapist is highly recommended. At the very least, if you decide to deal with childhood trauma, see if you can find a support group near you.