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Monday, 29 September 2014

Trauma

My middle daughter has been suffering with stomachs and head aches and trouble falling asleep for a few years now, most probably brought on by the stresses at home with her brother. Though her brother has not lived at home now for 9 months and never comes to visit while my daughter is at home, she still suffers from these problems. Out of concern for her as well as validating to her that I am taking on board her complaints and not just brushing them off as "stress", we have seen the GP and have been referred to a paediatrician at the hospital. She had her appoint last week and the outcome was much as I suspected and much to her disappointment. The doctor's comments were mostly to do with her "low mood" and that since her complaints are general and vary from day to day that her tummy complaints are nothing "sinister". He referred to her "low mood" several times and told her to "relax".

                                            

How long after living with trauma for a young person in the midst of "normal" changes and stresses, take to recover? How, as her mother, can I facilitate her?

What is trauma and is that what she suffered during the difficult years she watched her brother abuse drugs, abuse me emotionally and financially, abuse her emotionally?

If I use the professional psychological definition of post traumatic stress disorder then I would say that my daughter has been and still is distressed from the trauma (i.e. a deeply distressing or disturbing experience).

PTSD, the professional definition is as follows (plese read the link):

https://www.estss.org/learn-about-trauma/dsm-iv-definition/

                                       



I think people associate PTSD or in fact the word trauma itself with some horrific and possible fatal event that a person has witnessed or lived through. In that case people may think that using the same terminology in association with emotionally distressing and ongoing experiences may be a bit melodramatic. I know that for myself I am guilty of such beliefs. I thought that it is ridiculous that my daughter may be experiencing such a disorder, but then I looked into the definition, symptoms as well as trying to think what her life as a young child through to early adolescence  was like. Then I realised that indeed, my daughter experienced a great deal to warrant such terms to describe her emotional state.

When you consider that the police had to be called out on a number of occasions for "domestic abuse", that there were "children in need" meetings done by social services; there were a number of different agencies working with us as a family, with my son, with my middle daughter and for me as well, there was a lot going on and there was serious behaviours that needed to be addressed. Looking back at the amount of verbal abusive and how many arguments went on into the wee hours of the morning and when there were no arguments at night upstairs we could hear my son tinkering in the back room with his chemicals, or just his general moving about and making noise when the rest of the world around in slept, no wonder my daughter developed sleeping issues.

                           
                                                 

I can continue looking back to see  how life at home with a drug addict. who was very aggressive one minute and other times would pass out in the middle of dinner, could be viewed as traumatic, especially for children. However, I do not need to look back, I need to look forward. I need to address how does she, and myself and also youngest daughter, come to terms with the past and deal with the issues so that life can continue in a healthier fashion moving towards emotional well being.

My flashbacks and memories of how things use to be are gradually fading. These do come flooding back when I am exposed to my son while intoxicated and then I do get extremely anxious with the heaviness in my chest from anxiety returning. My daughter will not talk to me about her feelings on the subject and is still very angry and when I do try to discuss it I only get her anger. I do not know how much the support worker she sees once a week manages to do because when I ask my daughter, she tells me that her sessions are suppose to be confidential and it would defeat the purpose of them if she told what is discussed!

 Maybe it is time that is needed, time heals most wounds, I do not believe that time heals all wounds though. With time and support and understanding, I hope my daughter will begin to move forward. My son does not understand why life with him was so chaotic and traumatic, but it was, it really was. This is why I have said before and will continue to say that we all carry our different emotional scars left by addiction and we all need to recover from our own pain and turn our negative behaviours into positive ones.  We all lived with the addiction and we must all try to live without it, it no longer defines us as a family, though it is still holding on strongly to my son. We all need to recover in our own ways, in our own time, and the hope is that one day we will all find the peace and understanding achieved through our insights and improved lives that we may function once more as a family, though I am aware that this may not be the case for a very long time.