You do not have to keep feeling like that.
An infant trauma, like any psychological trauma, leaves deep mental scars that affect your mind, often in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can prevent you to heal from your trauma for a long time – even decades, in some cases.
There are many symptoms of PTSD that you may not even realize you live with because you experience childhood trauma in your own way.
The nature of your trauma – as well as the antecedents and relationships of your childhood – contribute to the symptoms of your PTSD, which means that they can be complex and differ from typical symptoms.
Your symptoms and your life can change. You do not have to live that way. All this can be adjusted.
If you ask yourself, "Do I have a PTSD?" then you have probably noticed disturbing behaviors or symptoms. So, what is post-traumatic stress?
It may be helpful to know the definition of trauma and whether the symptoms you present are "typical" of this disorder.
Remember, however, you are you. The way you feel the after-effects of your trauma will not have the same meaning or the same symptom as others.
Here are some "universal" signs or symptoms of PTSD:
- Recurrent and unwanted painful memories of the traumatic event
- Relive the traumatic event as it recurred (flashbacks)
- Heartbreaking dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
- Serious emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you
- Try to avoid thinking or talking about the trauma
- Avoid places, activities or people who call you back
- Negative thoughts about yourself, others or the world
- Despair for the future
- Memory problems
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Feel detached from family and friends
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Be easily surprised or scared
- Always on guard for danger
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much
- Sleeping troubles
- Difficulty concentrating
- Guilt or overwhelming shame
Most of them are traumatic reactions and the causes of PTSD are numerous. What underlies your dreams, nightmares, negative thoughts about yourself, your guilt and your shame all have a complex meaning.
To understand the effects of childhood trauma, these must be understood. You have lived terror. This terror has created distinct feelings for you.
PTSD is a matter of terror. When you had a trauma during your childhood, you found yourself in an overwhelming helplessness. Now the trauma lives in your symptoms and your constant fears.
How can this happen?
When they are afraid, people react with a reaction of "fight" or "flight". But what happens when you can not fight or escape, because there is nowhere to go?
C & # 39; trauma. You feel helpless in an unmanageable situation.
In case of trauma, you "go out" of your mind through what psychologists call dissociation. Dissociation means that during the trauma, you detach yourself from your emotional reactions without feeling anything.
In fact, you may have the impression of floating when this happens; as if the person who suffered the trauma was not really you. This is a form of "theft".
Many times, this trauma comes back into nightmares, vivid flashbacks or different ways of reliving again and again. Even if you do not have flashbacks or nightmares, there are other ways to revive traumatic fears.
Terror dwells in your bones and you can not get rid of it even if you thought you were doing it.
Here are 8 ways to respond if you have PTSD due to trauma:
1. You are hypervigilant and vigilant
Your mind is on alert. It's not something you do intentionally; it is the effect of a trauma.
You are constantly scanning the world for evidence of danger; do not feel safe anywhere can not sleep. You check the locks. You are afraid to go anywhere alone, especially at night.
But it is also hard to believe that anyone will protect you. The world seems out of control. Anything can happen and you are powerless to stop it.
Your unconscious says that your only option is to keep a close eye on everything and everyone around you. In this way, you may be able to protect yourself this time.
2. You feel the danger at every corner
Trauma of childhood means that you were in danger. This has caused your brain (more deeply your subconscious mind) to believe that a danger can occur at any time.
You were helpless and there was no safe person to turn to. Maybe your trauma was inflicted by someone who was supposed to take care of you.
You have been very vigilant, have to take care of yourself by being very careful.
You must feel in control and know what it means to not be. Your child's mind remembers the trauma of helplessness. Hypervigilance and anxiety about danger are designed to protect you.
You will pay attention to yourself because nobody can trust you to protect you – especially from the disaster you are sure is about to happen.
3. You have a feeling of impending doom
Yes, you feel that the danger is on every corner. But even worse is the terror that a catastrophic catastrophe is about to happen.
Believe it or not, very often, this terror is triggered if you have something well. The catastrophe you expect is certain to remove what is good.
Someone might die. You could be killed. Everything is going to collapse. You are afraid of making a wrong move.
This terror sometimes makes you afraid to go out. Afraid to drive. Worried to go to sleep. Even sometimes, panicked about what you eat. You are terrified by the separation from your loved ones.
4. You are afraid of anger, resistance or denunciation
Anger is a scary feeling. You fear to hurt someone, to make him leave or to take revenge. So your anger can be well hidden even from yourself.
Or, when you get angry, it can lead to big frustrated explosions that make you scared or guilty. You are trying very hard to control it as you try to control everything else.
Maybe someone's anger has hurt you or terrified you in your childhood. You could not fight back when you were little and you could have been threatened or punished if you tried to talk.
So now you hold back things or suppose no one will listen to them. Probably, somewhere in you, do not feel compelled to comply.
It's very difficult not to be able to defend oneself, but it's impossible. You swallow what you feel. You do not trust people, relationships, or anyone to stand by you or listen to you.
5. You panic at the thought of being trapped or becoming claustrophobic
You feel trapped in many different situations. You can not say no or leave whenever you want. Maybe you are even claustrophobic.
You can not go to the elevators or be in small spaces. Not in an MRI, a small room or a crowded area. If you feel like you can not go out, it makes you crazy. You avoid these situations at all costs.
If you feel that you have to give others what they want and can not openly express your feelings or needs, you are trapped. It is more to the extent of the trauma that you undergo.
Your feelings are trapped inside you. You can not be openly yourself. Your feelings and yourself are locked in a narrow box inside.
6. You are suspicious of relationships
One of the reasons why you can not be openly yourself, is that you are worried for most people. You are on the lookout for everything that makes you think that you are not loved, nor good enough, nor as good as they are.
You are constantly comparing yourself. Things often seem like degradations. You are not sure; to be anxious, it is difficult to relax.
Basically, it's not easy to trust anyone. Sometimes you do not think it's worth trying to be close, but you're alone, so you do it.
Yet, as you always fear being judged, rejected or used, you never feel really To close. It's a vicious circle you'd like to get out of, but you can not.
You are almost always in a state of high or low anxiety.
7. You have depression, anxiety, OCD or drug / alcohol use
Infant trauma in your mind can lead to deep, persistent depression, anxiety, OCD, and substance abuse.
Constant worry, terror of disaster, feelings of imminent danger, panic, fear of expressing your feelings are anxious. You need to feel the control and the OCD is a way to try to have it.
OCD is emotionally supposed to be a technique for overcoming anxiety. You could be ritual about what you do. Clean constantly. Or keep things in order. Even try to plan things carefully so you do not make any mistakes. An error means losing control. But, inevitably, a terrible doubt takes over. And if you are wrong?
It's very difficult to live that way. Especially if you feel that there is no relief or escape. And that leads to depression. You feel hopeless. I can not sleep Dreams and nightmares haunt you. You are afraid to try a therapy – or maybe you have failed too.
Turning to alcohol or drugs may seem like the only way out of constant torment. Your self-esteem is very low and you do not have much hope. But it's important to know that none of this is your fault.
You do not have to live that way.
8. You dream many times of your traumatic events
Your nightmares may seem to be just repeating your trauma, just like flashbacks. But if you look closely, other details are added. Your dreams can be so horrible, disgusting or scary that you do not want to sleep, for fear of having another one.
How could they have something to say? You just want to get rid of it.
Dreams are messages from your subconscious. It's hard to believe, but they are trying to help you repair the scars left by your trauma. But dreams and nightmares can be very scary.
That's why it's important to seek the help of someone who knows how to tell you what they want to say.
In particular, you need the help of a person who specializes in childhood trauma. You are most likely afraid to trust anyone. Especially if you have had a failed treatment (or treatments before).
When you had a trauma in your childhood, trust is not easy to find.
So what can I do now?
There are wonderful treatments for PTSD. Psychotherapy with someone specializing in childhood trauma is the best option.
A therapist trained in psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy is best able to understand the unconscious meaning of your symptoms. When you get to the root, you will not continue to suffer.
It is important to remember that trauma experienced during childhood does not define you. he is not you, and it's not permanent. All of these effects can change.
You tried the control. Escape. Avoidance. These are the methods you used yourself.
If one of the results of your trauma is mistrust of people or relationships, counting on yourself is your best choice.
If that's the case, you're alone with your terror, your fears and your panic. You have no choice but to try to put your feelings into a box. But this only creates another form of leakage and leaves you with your symptoms.
If you can take the risk of a therapy, your therapist must understand and take seriously how difficult it is to trust.
Then psychotherapy can be a place do not to be more alone with your terrors, your fears and your worries. And since these symptoms are largely psychological, they can absolutely change with help.
You will learn to trust again, to get to the bottom of your fears and to mourn the pain and trauma you have suffered. You will learn to be safe again, which is the most important thing you can do for yourself.
Life can get better. The effects of childhood trauma should no longer be experienced.
Dr. Sandra Cohen is a Los Angeles-based psychologist and psychoanalyst who specializes in childhood trauma and helps you heal the effects of trauma on your mind. For more information on how she can help you, visit her website to contact her.
This article was originally published by Sandra E. Cohen, Ph.D. Reprinted with permission of the author.