#Adulting with Childhood PTSD, Now What?Sep 25, 2018
When you are diagnosed with Childhood Post Traumatic Stress Disorder it makes you second guess every interaction with the world around you. The fact is today in the US, 3 to 10 million children experience some form of extreme trauma or abuse each day. Not all those cases end up causing PTSD but many experts believe that should the trauma or abuse happen between the ages of 2 and 7 it will. Childhood PTSD creates lifelong triggers such as the development of new fears, separation anxiety, nightmares, sadness, loss of interest in activities, reduced concentration, irritability and more. At 38 when I look back at the first 30 years of my life before I was diagnosed I realize how many of these triggers were controlling my life.
Today, I want to share which triggers affect me and how learning to see them as an adventure completely changed my life! My hope is you’ll see why I do what I do and perhaps help those of you who also have experienced some form of childhood trauma see ways you can create your own freedoms from something that was never your fault.
Easily Developing New Fears:
- It’s very easy for me to develop a new fear that will keep me stuck or feel abandoned. After therapy, learning that my first fear was being taken away from those I love or them leaving me, I was able to start seeing when I’d create a fear in order to keep me feeling “safe”. Today, saying a fear helped me feel safe, just sounds odd, but in truth, for me, it’s a natural response. That if I can perceive danger, certain precautions should be made. However, in this case, my mind creates irrational reasons why to not do something. It’s been as extreme as only my best friend and my husband can drive me places to no trusting someone I’ve always trusted for fear they would break it before they even show signs of doing anything to hurt me. This trigger I have now chosen to look at as a signal that I have the ability to overcome. This trigger is truly Fear of Fear. When I feel the feelings of abandonment, I’ve trained myself to ask if I can justify the fear. Someone that has helped me with this has been Coach Jennie. She’s my business coach but she’s actually a life coach that then helps you with your business. She has helped me time and time again face this my fears. I wear the FREEDOM piece on my Sseko Brave Bracelet as a reminder that I create my own freedom when I look at my fears before acting on them.
Watch this video from Coach Jennie on the 7 Steps to Overcome Your Fears
- This is the BIG ONE for me. Again, stemming from a feeling of traumatic abandonment I had created this codependency on so many things and people in my life. A lot of people, I think would have called me an extrovert and even independent, in my past but I wasn’t. My self-worth and my existence really depended on feeling secure and safe in my relationships. If my husband fell asleep on the coach too many nights out of the week, it meant a trigger of feeling not enough. (He is second shift and it happens, regularly.) Feeling less than and creating a tidal wave of actions that would make me feel like I wasn’t connected. Something as simple as him not coming to bed could stem into bad habits, such as, shopping and charging too much on my credit card. Which then led to arguments or miscommunications. It sounds small but it transferred into bigger and bigger situations which closed me off. The ways I coped with separation anxiety before being diagnosed isolated me to the point of considering to take my own life. What I learned from therapy is my need to communicate how I am feeling specifically with those I love. When my husband falls asleep on the coach more than two night in a row now, I text him, and say “Hey, coming to bed is important to me. Just reminding you.” And he knows, to not flip to another show after he is wound down from work. I’ve also learned that it isn’t his responsibility, a weighted blanket does the same as him for me to sleep better. So I give him grace if it is three nights instead of two. I also remind myself with the INTUITION piece on my Sseko Brave Bracelet. If I’m listening to myself I am more able to communicate it with others and keep my anxiety at bay.
If you are ever feeling you’re not enough and considering your life isn’t important to those you love please contact Crisis Text Line and talk to someone. When it came down to it I listened to someone else’s intuition that I needed to make a call and get help. I know you can do it too! https://www.crisistextline.org/
Nightmares & Night Terrors:
- It’is normal but I didn’t realize it was normal and the moment of my trauma. When my therapist asked me, “Do you have any recurring Nightmares or Night Terrors?” I said “Yes and just thought well, of course, that would keep scaring me, I was two.” When my anxiety or feelings of abandonment are high I will have a reoccurring nightmare of the day I was taken from my mother. It’s vivid, lucid and many times I wake up crying like my two-year-old self in the dream. I can smell the hospital, feel my grandmother holding me, and feel throughout my body what I personally describe as my “feeling of abandonment”. I know when this dream happens, I am on high alert and need to enlist healing measures STAT. My therapist who was specifically trained in Childhood PTSD worked with me through a process called EDMR. We walked through the memory and conditioned my brain to reverse the outcomes to a positive instead of the negative. It allowed me to remember more than what my dream had allowed me to witness over 30 years of it recurring and gave light to situations my two-year-old self had blocked out. EDMR gave me the tools to create preventions and precautions. Now, something as simple as my office cubicle and how I would have moments of blankness to my concentration makes sense. I keep the HEALING piece on my Brave Bracelet as a way to remember I know the steps to heal.
If you want to learn more about EDMR, here’s a video explaining it. If you think EDMR may help you, seek a professional in your area and ask if they are certified in this practice. I completely believe EDMR not only saved my life but saved my marriage and has made me a better parent.
I hope my sharing with you some of the ways I have dealt with my Childhood PSTD and still use to cope with it brings to light a different reasoning of why I do what I do. Office cubicles can no longer be a part of my lifestyle so discovering the freedom of being an entrepreneur was necessary not only financially but also for me to overcome and recognize when I am creating a new fear. Having a team of people to work with through my business as a Sseko Fellow, and for DJ and I with Tentrr to engage with campers was important for me to create community that took steps to develop. Connections that push me to communicate and not be placed in situations where I must be turned on all the time presenting someone I’m not. I’m able to be the self-starter and continual learner I am without the confinement my corporate career had that triggered my PSTD.
Tell me do you experience any of these triggers? Are you an adult who as a child witnessed abandonment? You're not alone, there are more of us and without connecting each other the conversation about Childhood PTSD can be had. Share with me your triggers or your story below.