Believe it or not, trauma leaves long-lasting and harmful effects. Childhood trauma can be triggered by various things such as neglect, physical, mental and sexual abuse, and the loss of a parent.
Traumatic events that take place during one’s childhood haunts the victims for the rest of their lives in ways they may or may not be able to completely understand. It might result in various behavioural disorders such as inability to cope with stress, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Anxiety and Bipolar Disorder. Most of the children who are exposed to abuse during their childhood are diagnosed with one mental disorder or the other by the age of 21-23.
Following are the effects of a troubled childhood or a distressful past on life, and the ways to overcome the trauma.
Understanding The Cause For Sorrow
It is very hard to point at one particular reason for the sadness that we feel. Sometimes we get so accustomed to the prevailing situations of abuse and neglect, that we forget it might have a lasting effect on our minds. We think what is going on is our version of normal reality.
It is only when we are exposed to other families and how healthily they function that we realise a sort of pain that we cannot particularly fathom, for it is then that we unconsciously comprehend how unfortunate we have been.
Addictions and Dependency on Drugs
A traumatic past can lead to several addictions – from becoming an alcoholic to a heavy user of a variety of drugs (be it heroin, cocaine, marijuana, or anything). These kids resort to drugs to temporarily release the pain and feel the high. Eventually they get addicted to the drugs they use, becoming very much dependent on narcotics. We even look for people who are as addicted as us to find some sort of comfort and completion.
Fumbling For The Missing Pieces
Children of distress constantly seek love and affection. Although aloof and distant, they need all the love they can get.
You guys think you are looking for the missing bits of yourselves in other people. Trying to find somebody that you can connect with, someone who feels the same as you, comforts you, and completes you.
But what you are really looking for is the happiness and love that was lacking in your childhood life. In this process, you end up crossing all the lines just to gain the love and attention of others.
History Repeating Itself
It becomes absolutely cloudy when history starts repeating itself again and again. From a traumatic childhood to a stressful relationship that squeezes the life out of you – leaving you broken – to a newly acquired drug-addiction (which itself is one of the results of a troubled childhood), it all comes tumbling down upon us. It blurs our vision and makes it impossible for us to determine the root cause for our behavioural disorders and pain.
Effect On Our Brain Structure
Study says: abuse, neglect or the loss of a parent can cause permanent changes in the structure of the brain. It may tamper with how the genes function to manage stress, making you vulnerable to developing depression and anxiety disorders.
This causes changes in the brain that make you less capable of handling your negative emotions such as anger.
Don’t Let Your Heart Grow Cold
Oftentimes, the victims of traumatic and troubling pasts build walls around themselves.
You tend to steel your hearts against all emotions and become numb. You are too afraid to feel pain, so you decide to become immune to them. But what is scary is not being able to emote at all.
Your heart has grown so cold that even when you need to feel, you can’t access those emotions anymore.
Recall Your Grief
Yes, most times, it is awfully painful to revisit the past, recall every sexually explicit vision of abuse and torture, remembering all the incidents of beatings and bruises from the past. All the nights you spent crying because your parents were addicts and forgot to leave dinner for you. All those nights drunken monsters sexually abused you. All the nights you spent rebuked and accused. And all those nights you spent grieving over the loss of a parent.
It’s not easy to go back and forth anytime you please.
But you have to do it. If you are strong enough, you must. Get up, go back, cry over it, think through it. What has happened cannot be undone, but the pain you might have to endure in the years to come – due to the impacts the horrific past has left behind – can be abated.
Find Your Answer
There has to be an answer for all the damaging things you had to go through. But sometimes, finding the answer is hard. Even impossible. For the culprits may no longer be alive, or are no longer reachable. But an answer you must get.
If there is any way to reach out to the assaulter, reach out, don’t be ashamed, don’t be scared, just ask him/her upfront. Be it a classmate who bullied you in the past or an aunt who sexually molested you in your childhood.
If you cannot reach them, logically deal with the situation, talk it out in forums, get help and answers for yourself.
Chaos In Your Head
It’s like madness inside your head, isn’t it? Voices constantly murmuring tales of failure, regret, neglect, sorrow and abuse. A chain of distressing thoughts running at the speed of light through your mind. An assortment of emotions and none at all. Voices screaming an ocean full of insults at you, telling you that you will never be good enough, reminding you of all the things you keep pushing to the back of your mind only for them to come back again. It’s simply chaotic in there.
You can no longer avoid this madness, this stress.
You have to embrace it, free yourself of the guilt that doesn’t belong to you, find your answers, let your heart grieve and bury it altogether.
You might not feel the need for one, but you can always find yourself a companion (a friend or lover or simply a therapist), with whom you can talk to, share your feelings with, express your heart’s desires and sorrows to, freely and without the shame or fear of judgement. Believe me, it will help release all the negativity giving way to a fresh mind and an even fresher start.
I tell all the victims of childhood trauma to conquer their past and achieve the greatness that was promised to them. And I request all those – who have friends and relatives who have had a tough childhood – to give them the strength and encouragement to get up and overcome their pains.