Childhood Trauma – When your Past is Not in the Past
If you’ve ever experienced childhood trauma, then it’s something that happened to you many years ago. Some of us aren’t even aware that we’ve been through a traumatic experience, while others know that something happened, but they’ve tried to forget about it.
Despite the fact it happened a long time ago – and despite the fact you may not even know you’ve experienced it – childhood trauma affects millions of adults in the present. The lingering effects of childhood trauma can play on your mind as you grow older, often impacting some of your daily habits. It can affect relationships, your mood, life decisions – and so much more.
Consequently, you need to understand how to deal with any trauma you experienced as a child. This starts by identifying the different types of trauma and seeing if you suffered from any. Then, you need to look at your current life and see if you exhibit telltale signs of trauma affecting you right now. From here, you can work towards finding solutions to help with your childhood trauma, getting over the pain, and no longer letting it run your life.
Common types of childhood trauma
Typically, one has to go through a traumatic experience to suffer from childhood trauma. As a kid, there are many ways in which this can happen. Some are rarer than others, but a few of the most common types of childhood trauma can be seen below:
● Neglect – Children and adolescents are the only people who can suffer from neglect. It is arguably the most common form of trauma in kids, and it relates to parents and family members not giving them the attention they need. They don’t get the emotional attention a child requires, and they can also lack physical attention such as providing food. Parents that refuse to take their kids to the doctor when something is wrong can also fall under this category, but the general theme is that a child is left alone and neglected.
● Sexual abuse – Sadly, a lot of children are subjected to sexual abuse by people they know. This can include family members, teachers, or even family friends. It can happen when you’re young and you don’t even realize you suffered from it until you’re an adult.
● Physical abuse – Abuse from parents or other people can also lead to trauma in kids. This is one of the most common forms of trauma in terms of the long-lasting mental effects it can have on someone. People who suffered from physical abuse as children tend to experience a range of mental health problems when they’re older.
● Bullying – This can technically come under physical abuse, but bullying can also be an emotional thing. Additionally, this refers more to bullying by other children, rather than at home or by adults.
● Life-threatening events – Lastly, children can suffer trauma after going through a series of life-threatening events. This could be a car crash, a natural disaster, and so on. If the event led to a loss of life that the child witnessed, the effects are even more damaging on their psyche.
How to recognize childhood trauma is affecting you as an adult
A lot of the symptoms that affect adults with childhood trauma are similar to those in people with PTSD. Effectively, this is because you are living with a form of PTSD. Your body is having a reaction to a traumatic and stressful event that happened at some point in your life.
As a result, you can have symptoms that express themselves emotionally, physically, and behaviorally.
Typical emotional symptoms include:
● Frequent panic attacks
● Random emotional outbursts
● Periods of unresponsiveness where you’re almost staring into a void
If you often feel these emotions, and you can’t pinpoint why, it could be linked to childhood trauma that happened in your past. Particularly if they coincide with these physical symptoms:
● Frequent bad dreams and night terrors
● Difficulty getting to and staying asleep
● Frequent shakiness
● Terrible levels of concentration
● Ongoing digestive health problems (typically caused by prolonged stress)
All of these things can be symptoms of other health concerns, which is why it’s so hard to figure out if childhood trauma is having an impact on your life. But, if you experience them alongside the emotional symptoms, there’s a high chance you have a traumatic memory that’s still causing harm to this day.
Furthermore, the way you behave and interact with others can be a sign of childhood trauma:
● Compulsive behavior – you have the urge to eat all the time or do things to the extreme, like stealing.
● Isolation – you prefer your own company over others and avoid being around other people.
Many other examples exist, but these two are the most common – particularly isolation. A lot of adults that suffered from neglect will develop unhealthy attachments such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized attachment. This is a condition that makes it hard for you to form attachments with other people, which might explain why you’ve never been able to hold down a relationship for a long time.
Treating childhood trauma
Thankfully, childhood trauma can still be treated years from the event itself. It begins with the first two things we’ve discussed: identifying the cause of trauma and spotting the symptoms in yourself. By knowing what’s causing your symptoms, it is a lot easier to talk through it and get over it. Therapy is always a brilliant and effective option, as is brainspotting. This is a technique that involves locating points in someone’s visual field to help access unprocessed trauma in the subcortical brain. Lots of other therapies exist to help unpack childhood trauma, but the important thing is that you can find ways of working through it.
In turn, this will help you deal with your unprocessed and repressed issues, stopping them from harming your present life and letting you live