TraumaFor many parent-carers they have experienced a traumatic time in relation to their child. This may be seeing your child nearly die, undergo invasive interventions or the general day to day grind that can wear a person down.
Post traumatic stress is a common reaction to a shocking event in our lives. It only becomes a disorder when it goes on for a long time and affects our functioning. If you are experiencing: flashbacks, intense memories of the traumatic event, heightened startle reflex or hypervigilance which are affecting your overall mood, making you avoid certain places or things, affecting sleep or your concentration for more than one month after the event please talk to your GP about a referral for psychological support. If the trauma is in relation to your child's birth you can access support from experts in this area at Birth Trauma Association.
The road to recovery includes getting support, talking through our experiences and developing an acceptance of the stuation however different it is from the one, as parents, we expected it to be. We all have dreams and hopes for our children and how we imagine parenting to be. The reality is often very different, including for parents of non-disabled children, but this difference can be excacerbated even more when our child has additional needs. The loss of the imagined child and the grief and mourning that needs to be expressed in relation to this can take time and can be very painful.
However there is hope. Human beings are very resilient and flexible entities. In time most parents will come to a sense of acceptance and equilibrium with their situation which also gives them strength to get through new challenges as they arise. Once you see you can survive the difficulties that life throws at you, one can see a new found strength.
Psychologists often talk about post-traumatic growth that can occur following a trauma. There are many examples of people who have been through a terrible time but feel they have learnt and grown as a result into a fuller and more rounded human being.
Resilience and post-traumatic growth
'Everybody says that adversity means suffering', said Pierre. 'But if you asked me now, at this moment, whether I wanted to stay as I was before I was taken prisoner, or go through it all again, my God, I'd sooner be a prisoner and eat horse-meat again'. - Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace
'Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way' - Viktor Frankl
'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger' - Nietzsche
'All suffering prepares the soul for vision' - Buber