Good afternoon my sweet tribe….
I hope your weekend was full of wonderful blessings, family time, a gathering of friends with food and beverages, and a time of humility, tranquility, and presence…? Sometimes weekends can become overwhelming when trying to accomplish more than time allows. Yet, placing healthy boundaries can allow one to carve time for you first and replenish your energy so you can have a fresh attitude to spend with those you love.? Feeling good about yourself increases your self-esteem and self-control, giving you a glow from inside out!?
As I reflect on childhood trauma, I realize many of you may have experienced it as well. Consequently, you may not comprehend the tender changes in brain function due to the deep seated trauma that may have caused many of you as a child to dissociate from the pain of abuse. Even after the negative experiences have stopped, some may still continue to seek out these distressing events with abusive partners and friends because this is, after all, what you are accustomed to as a comfort zone from years of childhood role modeling.
Because of this inability to realize you have entered into a safe zone, your brain, having disconnected from its normal functioning does NOT give you permission to heal and recover. For this reason, dissociation links with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), whereby the changes in the brain function show a strong connection. Hence, as an adult, if you haven’t found treatment to heal and recover, the signals you send out to a partner will mirror your childhood abuser more than not.
You may ask what is dissociation and dissociative disorders? Great questions! Dissociation happens when a person disengages from his/her feelings, thoughts, behaviors, surroundings, and self. Most people have shared these experiences while reflecting and starring off into space when listening to a person speak instead of hearing them talk. In comparison, dissociative disorders are involuntary, whereby the person is unaware s/he has escaped from reality. This obviously can impede normal work and personal/family life. Statistics show that two percent (2%) of the population deals with this disorder. It does not discriminate by age, sex, gender and/or socioeconomic backgrounds. Symptoms for dissociative disorders can be seen in the following ways:
- Memory loss of places, people or events
- Emotional disconnect
- Loss of self
- The sense of being disconnected from one’s body, as if watching yourself in a film
- Consequences of dissociation include anxiety, depression, job losses, relationships issues, and potential self-harm
Types of Dissociative Disorders
Memory loss regarding important periods of time or events in the person’s life
Sense of disconnecting from one’s body and watching it from the sidelines. Although fifty percent of adults have experienced depersonalization during their lifetime, it becomes a disorder if it starts to have a negative impact on one’s work and/or personal life.
Dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality syndrome)
Identity confusion and adjustment happens in various degrees, whereby the person “splits” between one or more substitute personalities.
Thus, with all that said, in childhood abuse or neglect, it is common for children to dissociate as a survival mechanism to escape the full reality of the trauma they must endure. It is a coping mechanism and a way the brain protects itself from chronic pain and trauma. Additionally, emotional abuse and neglect during childhood, although more challenging to recognize, as it is an invisible type of abuse, can also be correlated with dissociation. Children attempt to make the reality of the neglect and abuse more bearable.
What is worth noting is the link between trauma, PTSD, and dissociation and how it changes brain function. A study of Childhood Abuse Affects the Brain found that,
“The most obvious changes were in the brain regions that help balance emotions and impulses, as well as self-centered thinking. The results indicate that people who have been through childhood abuse or neglect have a higher risk of substance abuse if they go down that path because they have a harder time controlling their urges and making rational decisions due to actual physical changes in their brain development.
When people experienced three or more types of abuse (sexual, physical, verbal, neglect), 53 percent suffered from major depression at some point in their lives. Forty percent had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
There are many negative effects of childhood abuse and neglect on how the brain develops. Some of these potential effects are:
- A decrease in the size of the hippocampus, which is important in learning and memory
- A decrease in the size of the corpus callosum, which functions for emotion, impulses, and arousal, as well as communicating between the right and left brain hemispheres
- A decrease in the size of the cerebellum, which can affect motor skills and coordination
- A decrease in the volume of the prefrontal cortex, which affects behavior, balancing emotions and perception
- Too much activity in the amygdala, which is responsible for processing emotions and determining reactions to potentially stressful or dangerous situations
- Cortisol levels that are either too high or too low, which has negative effects
Other brain changes that link trauma to dissociation include, “…decreased limbic activity, increased frontal lobe activity, and changes in communication between these two regions.” There is significant research still to be done in the areas of the neurobiology of the brain concerning trauma and dissociation.
Many consider dissociative disorders a subset of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because they normally have been known to occur together, yet their symptoms and conditions may vary quite drastically.
For example, as a child or an adult, after experiencing a single violent event or disaster, PTSD may develop. In comparison, in childhood, dissociative disorders may become evident because of neglect, trauma, and/or abuse, yet not in adulthood, and stem from chronic trauma. This could be from continuous cycles of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Thus, dissociative disorders accompany certain age groups whom have suffered trauma and tend to be more vulnerable to those disorders. Whereas with PTSD, it is more relevant to the severity of the trauma instead of the age.
Inasmuch, when dissociation is combined with PTSD, it is most common the symptoms of PTSD are more enhanced but short lived. On the other hand, when there are advanced symptoms of dissociation, such as depersonalization syndrome, it can derail recovery of PTSD or even enhance it, especially without treatment.
Treatment is critical if you have experienced trauma or abuse in your life, especially if you also have dissociation disorders. Many people don’t even recognize the fact they have been living their life with these types of disorders, since two percent of the population actually suffer from dissociation. If you know you have been through trauma or abuse and are unaware of dissociation, if untreated you may be exhibiting certain symptoms such as depression, anxiety, work related challenges, and personal relationship problems, to name a few. If treated properly, for the original trauma, you have a chance at living a life that is healthy and free so you can literally live in the glow of your freedom.☄️
There are no guarantees when seeking treatment. Yet, you can learn more about the disorders and treatment for healing and recovery at the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). Love yourself first and know you are worthy of a life where you can just be YOU!
My heart goes out to those whom have suffered for so long within the boundaries of their minds for protection and survival. I can identify with it, especially having two traumatic brain injuries and living through childhood trauma. Tell your story, because even if no one gets it or you, it wasn’t their journey to begin with. It’s your journey. And, you are the heroine or hero of your life. Always, always, fall in love with yourself first…
If you need a hand to hold or feel like you need to talk with someone, please contact me.
Sending my beautiful tribe all the stars in the milky way to shine upon you on this day of glow. Because, YOU are stardust of the effervescent STARS that gives others permission to shine so they, too, can find their way home to the magic zone. Always, see the bright side of life…
In Light and Love,
#sexual abuse #dissociation #dissociative disorder #PTSD #childhood trauma #depression #major depression #brain development #trauma #loving yourself first #abuse