Nadine Burke Harris: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime…
Not unlike thousands of kids during the post WWII era, I grew up believing there was something wrong with me… Abused children for whatever reason get stuck with the sad feelings of guilt and constant negative self talk, asking the same question over and over and over again, “what is wrong with me?” This is a huge barrier to mental and physical health to carry forward in life until there is awareness then healing of a traumatic past. Most of us survive and thrive carrying around baggage from past trauma, but not without life challenges, and in the worst case scenario severe and life threatening mental and physical health damage.
I feel lucky and blessed to have discovered later in life the roots of my troublesome and nagging feelings of guilt and poor self confidence. Although I have no regrets and live with a healthy perspective at this stage in my life…living with a traumatic past is painful. You really have to work hard to pull up your boot straps each and every day and put forward one foot at a time. It is a double down process of staying positive and focused on succeeding in life.
Listen to Nadine Burke Harris and learn more about the lifelong mental and physical challenges of childhood trauma. Her message will help you become and better parent and a trauma survivor. Learning the value of awareness and treatment strategies can build a better quality of life, and even save lives. We didn’t have this kind of awareness during my younger years. I see now that it is a spiritual gift to know the roots of past traumatic life experiences, including child abuse and maltreatment. I live today with a peace of mind that only came from my own reconciliation and desire to be free of the emotional baggage of childhood trauma…
“Any event that is life-threatening or greatly affects a person’s emotional well-being can result in PTSD. Examples of these traumatic events include:
natural disasters (hurricane, tornado, etc.)
Traumas caused by other people (such as rape or assault) are more likely to cause PTSD. Strong emotions caused by these events can create changes in the brain that can bring about PTSD. People can also have PTSD for traumas they have perpetrated (i.e., soldiers who have shot enemy combatants can have PTSD).”
Who is at risk for PTSD?
Anyone who witnesses or experiences a traumatic event, especially if it is long-term or repeated, is at risk for PTSD. Certain groups, including war veterans and women, may be more likely to develop PTSD. For example, about 8% of men and 20% of women develop PTSD after a traumatic event.
It is not known why some people suffer from PTSD after a traumatic event and some do not. Some factors make you more likely to develop PTSD, including:”
Exposure to multiple traumatic events
Exposure to long-term or repeated traumas
Personal history of mental health problems, especially anxiety disorders
Lack of support from family and friends after a trauma
By far, the public’s first reaction to the acronym, PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is war, warriors, combat veterans, military, soldiers, etc. The on-set of PTSD is the normal reaction of the human brain’s chemistry to severe trauma. The public is flooded by the media every day with the term PTSD as it relates to our heroes who serve America in all wars, especially when exposed to combat and injured with visible or invisible wounds.
It is not fair to veterans and their loved ones to isolate PTSD to one cause or one segment of our population. It is also not fair to the thousands of people of all ages who experience trauma at home in America and elsewhere in the world each and every day, then suffer from the symptoms of PTSD. Following is a quote from the back cover of my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, published in November of 2011:
“Approximately 8 Million Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Steve has the courage to share his story, hoping it will help others to address their PTSD and break the intergenerational cycle. Don’t go the journey alone. As in Steve’s story, it requires the connectedness with others to go down the path of hope and healing…” Beverly Ventura, Marriage Family Therapist and Life Coach, Laguna Counseling.
Beverly Ventura, MFT
When I first started to write my childhood and early adult story of my own traumatic experience, Beverly was one of the first of my dear friends I contacted to learn about the symptoms and implications of PTSD. At first it was a shock to find out that my experience with trauma was not an exception. I was not alone! Beverly gave me the confidence and courage to write my story to help me find a path of healing while making a difference for others. She spoke to me on the phone often, and on Skype with encouragement and friendship. Bev even read my first manuscript and gave me pointers on character development. Our conversations showed me the way to an abundance of research on the subject. My new level of awareness of the roots and symptoms of PTSD, and how it affected my own family for decades, gave me the passion and motivation to write my first non-fiction story, including starting a website and blog. I will be forever grateful to Beverly’s caring friendship and give her major credit for helping me find peace of mind later in life. My life was changed forever and for the better as a result of pressing forward to write my book. I could not have accomplished this huge task without the help from dear friends like, Beverly, and loved ones who pushed me forward.
Trauma leading to PTSD and moral injury compares to an epidemic in my view… The intergenerational pain and suffering seems endless. The lack of awareness and stigma connected with mental health challenges discourages treatment and conversation. Young adults who served America in combat hesitate to admit to a diagnosis of PTSD and treatment for fear they will not find work. Others who suffer from severe trauma as civilians are often ignored and shunned by family members and must fend for themselves. My own experience is a testimonial of a post WWII family destroyed by PTSD and decades of emotional challenges that went untreated.
The good news is we are achieving more and more awareness and the conversation is much louder and deeper than it was just 3 years ago when my book was first published. I continue to have hope and confidence that we are close to achieving critical mass in knowledge and awareness around the subject of trauma and PTSD. The first step in healing from invisible wounds from war or other traumatic experiences in life is awareness. My new level of knowledge, human connectedness and healing saved my life. It is never too late to find your own journey of healing…