Most people are familiar with PTSD. But many have not heard of complex PTSD and developmental trauma disorder. As adults, many of us experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. We feel chronically stressed. We have trouble trusting others, or we may even experience feelings of paranoia in our relationships with others. We struggle to define what it is that is bothering us, and we struggle to find ways effective ways to treat it.
Adults often seek counseling and medical attention with complaints and symptoms of physical illness, anxiety, depression, mental illness or personality disorders. Many of us fail to connect the dots from what we are experiencing today to the things that we learned and experienced as children. Our habits and memories are forming even before we begin to speak. Many people struggle to realize that the negative habits that we learned often were learned as children or adolescents from others who were poor role models to us.
The truth is that childhood neglect, abuse, and emotional trauma can affect us for a lifetime. What we are exposed to even as toddlers can literally affect how our brains develop going forward. Our experiences certainly affect and shape our habits, and many of us pick up negative habits from our parents that we are not even aware of. We learn maladaptive ways to cope with a noisy and chaotic world instead of learning positive and healthy ways to cope. We often use the coping mechanisms that our parents taught us, even if those are pornography, alcohol, sex, violence, drugs and overeating.
Many people who experience these maladaptive coping mechanisms often label themselves as feeling ‘crazy’ in their adulthood. They struggle to regulate their own emotions in a healthy way. They make poor decisions. They feel as though they are constantly on autopilot in their lives. They don’t realize that these are all natural and human reactions to the trauma that they had gone through.