The Reality Of Developmental Trauma Disorder And The Daily Reminders Attached To This Personal Struggle
DEVELOPMENTAL TRAUMA DISORDER
Repeated acts of developmental trauma such as neglect, abuse (mental, emotional, physical & sexual) and abandonment during a child’s young life can cause negative effects on cognitive, neurological and psychological development.
DT can also result in learning disabilities, processing and behavior problems.
The child’s brain is supposed to develop in levels from the bottom going on up.
When the natural process is disrupted by trauma and abuse the circuits have what is called a “misfire” and the neural circuitry is disturbed causing the brain to go into survival mode – using fight – flight – freeze responses.
Studies show that long term effects can cause poor decision making and health issues later on in life.
Well -- What does all that mean in real terms?
Imagine yourself as a child and think about your daily life back then. Were you a happy child living a fairly normal life? As we all know nobody’s life is perfect, but many, many children grow up in homes that are filled with functional “chaos” as I call it. The every day grind of living, growing, changing and learning under a safe roof.
Now imagine this…
You are a young child living in an environment riddled with dysfunction and abuse. There are countless scenarios that fall under this broad category, but I believe you understand what I am saying here!
Your daily life is bombarded with trauma, raw words and physical disruption of the hideous kind. From a young age all you may know is abuse, or neglect. The hungry child with a dirty face, bruises that are visible, and the harangued exhausted look of a zombie like image replace the “norm”.
What happens to that child when the natural process of development is continually disrupted?
That misfire causes the brain to miss steps in development, and it is replaced with what I call “dark spaces”. As that child grows into adulthood and is trying to succeed in life, they are met with resistance from themselves. That dark space pops up when least expected, and creates an inner struggle with NO understanding attached to it. It is just there, present waving it’s flag screaming “surrender to the dark side”.
Confusion sets in, then frustration, followed by anger and disappointment in oneself because there are no clear answers attached to this dark hole.
I understand this confusion because I was that child!
My upbringing was filled with loss, abandonment, trauma and abuse on every level. My daily grind was -- fight or flight! I remember those moments when my brain was literally frozen as people were talking to me. I would lose time as that dark hole sucked me up. Then all of a sudden, I was back, and those moments were gone forever. As a child it is very confusing, but as an adult it is very disturbing.
As a child & mental health advocate I am always on a quest to understand more and more about what trauma/abuse does in the long-term picture. Look, I speak and advocate about these very subjects so I cannot educate others, if I do not educate myself first.
Also, I am sure I am not the only one guilty of self-diagnosing!!!! We have all done it from the flu, to a sinus infection to PTSD and anxiety. I chuckle to myself when I think about this, because we are all guilty; but that is a good thing! Let’s be guilty of trying to really understand ourselves, so we can actually help ourselves grow. Life is about learning, and I gained a valuable lesson.
The more I read about Developmental Trauma, the more I was able to fill in those blank spaces. I related to what those words were saying to me. I already knew I had PTSD due to my past, but there was still that gray area surrounding those “dark patches”.
I will give you some examples about how my “misfires” effected my life!!
I myself struggle with processing and understanding things at times. I still have that “frozen affect” and it is quite frustrating because I know I am an intelligent woman. When those moments happen, I have to remind myself to take a moment and just let it all sink in before I move forward.
Sometimes, the simplest things can be quite difficult for me and I can feel those blank spots inside my mind as I am trying to comprehend what I am doing. I do find taking a moment helps to regroup before I move forward.
As a child and young adult, I would blank out – “the dead area” and when I came back into focus time was lost. I realize now that this was my brain on overload trying to protect me from bursting at the seams, but back then it was a scary place to be.
I could not remember where was locker was at school and I could never remember my combination. I had to write it on all my books, notebooks even my shoe so I would not forget. How embarrassing!
Math was a huge struggle for me as I could never put the numbers together, it always seemed like a labyrinth of confusion and I just couldn’t understand. I felt like I was stupid back then.
To this day numbers are still very hard for me, and I always have issues with words (imagine I am a writer), I will see it one way but write it another. This is very challenging for me because I have to triple check my work all the time to make sure it is right.
These are all classic examples as to what happens to countless children that grew up in the same situation as myself.
Now think about how many adults are walking around out there in this world facing these same issues, but not even realizing the truth of their inner struggles. Many adults have found ways to work around their disability silently meeping along so nobody sees the true reality. That shame and embarrassment from childhood flows on into adulthood and the silent struggle continues on.
I believe my generation, which I call the “era of silence” is greatly affected in adult life! That continued struggle to hide in the darkness of that black hole raging on and on with no way out, unless we begin to educate ourselves.
All these new “truths” are coming forward with the next generation of youth up and coming, and the more we are learning, educating and become aware of these “hidden disorders”; that is when the true healing of the past can begin.
The more that I have learned and grown from educating myself, I am taking steps towards helping my “inner child” succeed. As I step forward day by day, my inner child has grown into this strong adult image of who I was always meant to be.
I write about the disorder from this perspective because I am living it!
I also want to say when working towards understanding yourself – “knowledge is key”. Always start at the beginning and go piece by piece, and the blank spaces will eventually fill in. The more you embrace who you are as a person and accept your past pains, the true healing will come.
I encourage each and every one of you out there struggling in silence to take that brave step forward into the light and fill in that black hole once and for all.
Embrace the Journey.