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Opinions of Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Columnist: Dr. Annie Gaisie

Is my daily challenges linked to my childhood trauma?

Dr. Annie Gaisie Dr. Annie Gaisie

Some subjects are just uncomfortable to bring up in conversations.

One of the most obscure topics people openly discuss is childhood Trauma.

You don’t often hear about it, despite the fact that studies show that a very high percentage of adults report some kind of abuse or trauma in their childhood.

The lack of discussion around trauma is partly cultural, but it’s also because trauma is hard to pin down.

Once upon a time, in our African culture we were expected to get on with life no matter what. “ only weak people express how they have been affected by traumatic life events”.

Our brain often tries to bury our trauma; it’s too painful to face, so we push it down or rationalise it and continue with our life.

My experience may differ from yours. Just as every individual is unique and every individual’s reactions are unique; likewise, every traumatic experience and reaction is also unique. Some people cope with trauma in healthier, more productive ways than others.

One person may experience multiple traumatic experiences or have a continually traumatic childhood, but emerges as a healthy and well-adjusted adult; on the other hand, trauma can seriously damage another person even if the experience is mild in comparison.

Trauma is subjective: if someone believes they are in danger, the situation is traumatic.

Trauma affects many people in some way or another. For example, if someone grows up in a household in which there are regular episodes of domestic abuse, she may harbour many symptoms of fear into adulthood. Also, the way someone handles trauma may further increase the risk of emotional or psychological problems.

If a parent does not recognise and access support for their child’s trauma, the child may be more likely to withdraw as an adult and cope with stress or trauma in unhealthy ways, such as drug use, drinking, engaging in sexual relationships or through avoiding emotions. This can lead to disturbed and unsettled relationships and discontent with life.

Making sure you are educated in different signs of trauma can help you protect the children in your life from being more deeply affected than necessary.

If you feel strongly that you had a traumatic childhood, try and get professional support to manage the situation. Leaving Trauma untreated can affect very significant aspects of your adult life.

There is no shame or stigma associated with something that happened to you when you were very young. Is not your fault and you had no control over the situation, but you do have control now to make it better.

You have the opportunity to heal. Your awareness of what you experienced is the first step. Take the next step to recovery.

By: Dr. Annie Gaisie, Psychologist - Addictive Behaviour.