If you had “good enough” parents you were blessed with a fairly regulated nervous system, integrated brain, and secure attachment style. These contribute greatly to a sense of well-being from which health arises and a good life can unfold.
If your parents were not good enough, according to the mainstream narrative, you are supposed to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps, let it go, put it in the past, forgive and forget, let go let god, look for the silver lining, be thankful it wasn’t worse, and give up your victim mentality!”
You may experience emotional extremes or numbness, flashbacks, intrusive memories and thoughts, suicidal ideations, depression, anxiety, or any of a wide variety of so-called mental health conditions.
You will be naturally more vulnerable to additional trauma, and it will come. As a trauma-trained child, you grow into an adult who experiences a sickening repetition of abusive situations and dynamics. This in part because you were taught abuse is normal and you should accept it.
As an adult with Developmental Trauma, you will also very likely experience the onset of chronic disease at midlife. The chronic stress hormones generated by your unresolved trauma will erode your health and express as symptoms like diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, sleep apnea, bone loss, sleep problems, and much more.
In addition, your capacity to form and maintain healthy relationships is so thwarted you don’t have a clue what that feels like. This is a serious disability.
According to the dominant culture you are on your own to fix the part of yourself that can’t be repaired except by the biological imperative of safe interpersonal connections. That’s absurd!
It’s a setup for failure. Especially if you ask for help. The “standard treatment” for Complex PTSD is more likely to cause you harm than help you heal. Psychology will make you play Russian roulette with pharmaceuticals, many of which will clog your brain. Others may even make you suicidal. If they do give you suicidal ideations and you ask for help with that, you will be heavily exploited.
The standard treatment is to hoodwink you into thinking “a few days” in the local mental hospital will be kind of like a vacation, but it will actually be a week at Cuckoo’s Nest Jr. They pitch the mental hospital as “a gateway to services.” Why is there no “gateway to services” before incarceration in the Cuckoo’s Nest?
If you live here in Delaware you end up in Rockford or Dover Mental hospital and you’ll be horrified by the experience. They deny you your rights before they even take you through the first locked door. (I recommend you turn around before then.)
After you go through that locked door you give up all your unsanctioned belongings including your phone and purse. Then they strip search you. After that, you get a crummy room with who knows what kind of roommate, and no privacy. You meet with a very uptight psychiatrist who puts you on multiple psychotropic medications without much regard to your neurobiology or needs. It’s more about what they “feel” you need.
In the clinker, you learn that if you try to leave before your insurance runs out they will threaten you with commitment. Or they will find other ways to keep you longer. “We changed your medication so you have to stay another 48 hours!” (I recommend you have a lawyer on standby.)
You’ll get a crappy diet and if you meet with the dietitian they’ll tell you the kitchen staff is not here to meet your dietary needs. The kitchen serves mainly fried food, fatty meat, and starch. The roach population will take care of the crumbs.
As part of your process of getting out of there, they scare you into signing up for the outpatient program. And then a creepy intimidator guy stands over you at the point when you’re allowed to write out what you thought about your stay.
After what you’ve been through, you are so afraid that they can do whatever they want to you that you call a lawyer to find out if you have to go to that outpatient program.
If you don’t like this treatment and you complain to The Powers That Be, they will treat you like you’re the problem. Because you are! When you speak the truth you are the problem.
So, that is what it’s like to have parents who weren’t “good enough.” Whose own lack of nervous system regulation and resources prevented them from helping their children regulate, grow an integrated brain, and develop secure attachment. That is intergenerational relational trauma. Developmental Trauma, the number one health crisis in the world.
DISCLAIMER: This is not medical, psychological, pharmaceutical, or legal advice. The contents of this site represent Shay Seaborne, CPTSD’s lived experience and understanding of the neurobiology of trauma through study and experiences. For medical, psychological, pharmaceutical, or legal advice, consult a licensed practitioner.
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