Children and PTSD

Just like adults, children can suffer from PTSD. The symptoms may look a little different in children, but it’s still PTSD.

First off, what is PTSD? PTSD is Posttraumatic stress disorder. This can occur after a very traumatic event. In prior history we associated PTSD with soldiers who had faced battle. Now we understand that it can affect anyone.

What can Cause PTSD in Children

  • Bad accidents, such as car wreck
  • Invasive medical procedures, especially for children younger than age 6
  • Animal bites
  • Natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes
  • Manmade tragedies, such as bombings
  • Violent personal attacks, such as a mugging, rape, torture, or kidnapping
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual abuse
  • Witnessing the death of a loved one
  • Emotional abuse or bullying
  • Neglect

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD in Children

  • Have problems sleeping
  • Have nightmares
  • Feel depressed or grouchy
  • Not understand why they are crying
  • Change in eating habits
  • Feel nervous, jittery, or alert and watchful (on guard)
  • Lose interest in things they used to enjoy. They may seem detached or numb and are not responsive.
  • Have trouble feeling affectionate
  • Be more aggressive than before, even violent
  • Stay away from certain places or situations that bring back memories
  • Have flashbacks. These can be images, sounds, smells, or feelings. The child may believe the event is happening again.
  • Lose touch with reality
  • They may cling to the person that they feel safe with
  • Reenact an event for seconds or hours or, in rare cases, days
  • Have problems in school
  • Have trouble focusing
  • Worry about dying at a young age
  • Act younger than their age, such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting
  • Have physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches
  • Sometimes PTSD in children can look like ADHD

What to do as a Parent

If you notice these changes in your child and they persist, talk to their doctor. Get your child into counseling and keep every appointment. Listen to your child when they want to talk about what happened. You have to admit that the event happened and acknowledge it for your child. Let the child’s school counselor know what happened so they can check in on your child. Talk to their doctor about medications that could help your child. Take it seriously! Don’t just pass it off as nothing. Understand that your child may need you more. They may cling to you because you are their safety net.

https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/ptsd.html

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=post-traumatic-stress-disorder-in-children-90-P02579

He took his own life

25 years. That’s how long it has been since my dad took his own life. Yesterday was the anniversary of his death. The anger and anguish are still with, me even after all of this time. The questions that I had then, are the same questions that I have now, but there are no answers. There is only silence.

I remember the evening that I got the phone call about my dad. I was at the Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga with some friends. My mom paged me, so I went back to my car to call her back on my bag phone. (This was before everyone had cell phones). The first thing that she asked me was who was with me. I told her and she wanted to talk to the friend that was right beside me. I asked her what was wrong? She asked me several times to let her speak to someone else and I told her no, she had to tell me what was going on. The next few sentences changed my life. She said, “it’s your dad. He shot himself.” I asked her if he was ok and she said, “No baby, he’s not.” I remember screaming and crying. I remember getting in the car to go home and talking to my mom on the phone all the way home. I remember the empty and sick feeling I had. I thought I was going to throw-up. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I might die because of the pain and shock my body was going through.

The rest of the night and following days were a blur. I remember sitting at the funeral home with my sister, aunts and uncles to make arrangements. I remember saying that I wanted to see my dad and everyone trying to talk me out of it. My sister stood up for me and told everyone to let me, it was something that I had to do. I was going to do it regardless.

The night of visitation I got to go back to a room and see my dad for the last time. Other than a bruise on his cheek, he looked like he was sleeping peacefully. The funeral director wouldn’t let me stay long with him. So every time I got the chance I would sneak out of the visitation room and go back to the room where my dad was. I got caught more than once being in the room with him. I spent that time talking to him, asking him questions that he was never going to answer, and stoking his hair. I didn’t know how to say good bye when I didn’t understand anything.

I don’t know if my dad couldn’t take the loss of his mother, she died just a few week before, or if he couldn’t deal with his dad being terminal with cancer. Maybe he was just tired and fed up with this world. I still ask why weren’t my sister and I enough? Why didn’t he love us more? Did he even think about us prior to his decision? Did he think that we would be better off without him? I wonder what lies the devil was whispering in his ear. I wonder what demons he was fighting. I wonder if he had been planning this all along or if it was a quick, snap decision that he made.

I think about everything that he has missed. He wasn’t there when I got married. He has four amazing grandsons who would have adored him and he has a great granddaughter who just turned a year old. He has missed Christmas’ and Thanksgivings. He has missed graduations and birthdays. He has missed those just because days that are filled with laughter.

I think about the impact that it had on me and my self-worth. There was a period of time when I felt that if my own father didn’t love me, how could anyone else love me. I felt that I wasn’t worthy of love. I felt like I was the problem and that I was bad for people. I felt like a failure. I cut myself off from others. I didn’t want to ever get close to anyone or love anyone because it just led to pain. And for years I didn’t let anyone in. I closed myself off from feeling to deeply for anyone, other than the people that were already in my circle. Sadly, I didn’t realize what a injustice I was doing to myself.

I now realize that whatever it was, my dad had some reason for doing what he did. It breaks my heart that he felt that was the only way out, but I have excepted it. I realize that we were enough and that the battle he was fighting won. I realize that it wasn’t us, but the lies of the demons he was battling. I know that he loved us and I believe that he knew we loved him too.

It didn’t happen for a reason

Source https://www.facebook.com/theadversitywithin/

Often times people will tell us that “it happened for a reason” to try to make us feel better. However, sometimes it just pisses us off. When a loved one dies, it happening for a reason, does not make the grief any easier. It belittles our feelings and our grief. The greatest love is also the greatest grief. Share that with someone and let them express their love/grief for the one that they lost.

Gut Instinct

What is Gut Instinct?

Gut instinct is defined as:  gut instinct or intuition, is your immediate understanding of something; there’s no need to think it over or get another opinion—you just know. Your intuition arises as a feeling within your body that only you experience. … Because of this, trusting your intuition is the ultimate act of trusting yourself.

But is there a difference in our gut instinct and our intuition? To me, gut instinct is more of our bodies way of telling us something. Our primal wisdom or voice. Our intuition, to me, is more of a connection in our mind or a spiritual wisdom or voice.

Pay Attention to your Gut Feelings!

I believe in paying attention to your gut feeling. Here is one of my stories when I listened to my gut and I was glad I did.

Years ago when I was about 18 or 19 me and my friends hung out in Gainesville on Friday and Saturday nights. This particular night a car went up the road passed the parking lot we were all hanging out in. (Bare in mind this is where every teenager was at that time. We were cruising!) I looked at my boyfriend and I said “we have got to get out of here. That car is going to come back and they have a gun. It’s my gut feelings again.” Luckily, my boyfriend knew how I was with my gut feelings and didn’t ask questions. We jumped into his car and were at the top of the driveway when sure enough the same car drove by on the same side of the street that we were all on and fired a few shots. No one was hurt.

What Feelings to Listen to.

1 – I am in danger or someone else is in danger. When you “feel” that you are in danger or someone else is in danger, listen to your body. Your primal voice is telling you something. Your body knows something that your mind doesn’t yet.

2 – This is not the right choice for me. Sometimes you don’t know why something is wrong for you, you just feel it. Listen, and take time. If it is the wrong choice you will be glad. If for some reason it is the right choice then it will come back around to you.

3 – I need help. This one, to me, can be a wide range of ways that we need help. This can be when you feel like you are in danger, when you are sick, or when you feel that you need help and need to talk to a therapist. There are times when we simply feel that something is off with our bodies, and we need to seek help.

This link https://lonerwolf.com/gut-instincts/ has a list of 7 gut feelings that should not be ignored.

Seeking Therapy

Remember seeking therapy means that you are working on you! You are working on being the best version of yourself.

https://www.facebook.com/cptsdandme/

There are times when all of us need to work through something. Sometimes we just need to work on ourselves. There is no shame in talking to a therapist. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you, it just means that you are a work in progress. But, hey aren’t we all!

Check out SkyeHelps facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/skyehelps

National Hug Your Dog Day

March 10th  is National Hug Your Dog Day.

This is National Hug Your Dog Day!!!  Ok, I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a special day to hug on my fur baby.  I hug and love on them all the time!

 Let’s look at the mental health (and physical health) benefits to having a dog. 

Research supports that being around dogs (and cats) puts you in a better mood and offers stress relief.  They cut down on anxiety and depression. 

The actual act of petting a dog can lower your blood pressure. 

Oftentimes, we are more active because of our 4 legged friends.  We find ourselves out for walks, maybe even a jog.  Even if we just take our pooch to the dog park, we are getting vitamin D from the sun and that boosts our moods. 

When we are out in public with our dog, it increases our social interaction.  People are going to smile and we are going to smile back.  People are going to stop and ask to pet your dog and strike up a conversation with you.  In fact, if you walk your dog around the same time daily and in the same area, you are bound to run into the same people. 

Dogs offer us unconditional love and companionship.  They love to greet us when we come home and lavish us with love and affection. They cuddle with us and keep our deepest secrets.  They even warn us of people we should stay away from.  My dog has even been known to wipe away my tears.  

My dogs are my best friends! 

So Hug your Dog Today!

World Mental Health Day

“World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.” https://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/en/

The work I do is good. 

My work is about helping people understand and manage their feelings and behaviors. It’s about helping people process their grief, traumatic past, anxiety, shame, guilt, remorse, and confusion. It’s about building a trusting relationship with my clients. I provide a sounding board for their lives in a space where they can feel relief, knowing that I have no stake in their lives, no opinion, and no judgement. I provide a neutral space for them to explore their past and imagine new ways of being. My work is about listening. It’s about listening carefully so clients feel understood. Sometimes I point out patterns in their feelings, behaviors, or stories and I often cry, laugh, and learn with them. 

I love what I do. I love how I do it. I love my clients and the surprises and “ah-ha!” moments that unfold organically before our eyes. I love learning more ways to help others and myself as therapeutic models evolve and science reveals new information about how our brains and bodies work to make us who we are. I love practicing what I learn with my clients and colleagues. I am passionate about helping others and society at-large.

“How do we make mental health care a reality for people worldwide?” So much. So very much. However, we’ve already come a very long way:

When I think generationally, I consider the changing attitude towards mental health care in my own family. My grandparents did not talk about negative feelings, did not process grief, did NOT go to therapy. My parents sometimes talked about negative feelings, did not process grief, and did NOT go to therapy. My sister and I sometimes talk about negative feelings, process grief a little, and go to therapy occasionally. My children ALL feel free to talk about negative feelings, are learning to process grief, and DO go to therapy.

In America, we recognize that talking about our negative feelings and experiences helps us feel better and do better. We know now that processing grief in a healthy, proactive way helps us feel happier and more connected to others. We know now that going to therapy is not for “crazy” people. It’s for regular people with regular challenges that need or want some direction in their lives. There are also plenty of people who have severe depression, anxiety, panic, and addiction who got to that severe place because there was not early intervention.

I think one of the most helpful areas of mental health care where we could make the biggest impact worldwide is early intervention. When we validate a child’s negative feelings, help them process grief, or teach them to ask for help, we empower them to take control of their feelings instead of being a victim to them. We can build a trusting relationship with them that allows them to explore their world without shame and guilt. We can teach them early in life to choose what they believe about themselves. We can teach them they can trust themselves to move their feelings if and when they want. We can help them make good decisions based on rational thinking. 

How would you be different today if you had grown up with these resources? How would the world be a different place if every child could learn to control their feelings by recognizing, acknowledging, choosing, and moving them? I think it would be pretty magical.

And that’s what I see in my office every day. I see the magic that happens inside people and between people when I explain they are not crazy, broken, “the” problem, or stupid. Witnessing the magic that occurs when I give people the space to be themselves and explore the dark corners of their minds is wonderful. I see the behavior of children change with only a few minor tweaks to their parents’ words or actions. 

What I do is amazing to me. I’m thrilled by the possibilities for better mental health care and the improvements being made every day. Let’s keep up the good work. 

Book Recommendation: The Four Agreements

SkyeHelps recommends The Four Agreements
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

SkyeHelps recommends reading The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. This bestselling book suggests four principles to help bring happiness and peace into your life. The four principles are: be impeccable with your words, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. Ruiz goes into detail about what each on of these principles mean, and how to apply them to your everyday life. Reading the book is the easy part, but the challenging part is staying committed with applying the rules towards your life. SkyeHelps invites you to read our book selections to cultivate personal growth and emotional wellness.