Updated: Apr 2, 2020
When you are given a diagnosis it is traumatic.
Raising a child with different needs can be traumatic, throw in a few hospital admissions, blood tests, CT scans, surgeries and intensive care visits and the trauma is there. Its done and it can't be undone.
There are different ways we deal with and process trauma, no two people deal with it exactly the same. Especially couples who are raising a child with disabilities or a condition. Try and see it as a good thing as if you were both falling apart in the same way then there would be no balance.
The emotional ways we show trauma are;
ISOLATING AND WITHDRAWING
FEELING ON EDGE
The physical ways we show trauma are;
ACHES AND PAINS
NOT BEING ABLE TO EAT
CAN'T STOP EATING
WEIGHT LOSS OR GAIN
BEING STARTLED EASILY
CAN'T SWITCH OFF
SILENCE/OVER TALKING AND CHATTING (SIGNS OF ANXIETY)
The above symptoms are completely normal for a time. Don't be surprised if you feel fine for a few weeks and then some symptoms hit you around the back of the head out of no where all of a sudden, that can be quite normal too. Also they symptoms can change i.e; one week you could feel quite down and depressed and fatigued the other week you might not be able to switch off or sleep and feel constantly on edge. Other weeks you may feel fine. You may feel troubled by an anniversary or particular season, again completely normal.
If you are feeling any of the above for an intense and prolonged period of time then you need to speak out. Talk to your GP or your child's team to see if they can offer counselling or get involved with some online support groups. Advocates supporting other advocates some times is all the support one needs to normalise situations others can't but if you feel you aren't coping then call your GP. If you are unable to function properly you may be experiencing POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) It is widely recognised in the world of NICU and there is a lot of support to help advocated who have been through the NICU process but there doesn't seem to be much awareness for other worlds especially if you didn't go through NICU which a lot of families don't.
Over the course of time the less traumatic stuff can become apart of day to day living and to the outsider you can appear hardened or immune to what others would find hard to deal with or distressing. Terms like "palliative" or "critical" or "death" roll of the tongue without a second thought and you find yourself in a world that is more isolated than usual. Even close family can loose patience or not be on the same page and that can be as traumatic for the family set up.
Here are some tips to not just survive but thrive from trauma.
Talk to someone, anyone. Even if its praying to God and talking through all the weight and pressure you're under. Talk regularly. Even if you don't want to. It will help, it will help you process all the issues you've been a witness to and help you make sense of it.
Make a journal.
Gratitude journals are good. A diary of what actually happened and how you feel about it will help, especially if you can't or don't feel ready to talk.
For 30 mins a day, if you are housebound. Which most of you will be there are plenty of exercise plans even on YouTube for free and it will help you.
Take a multi vitamin.
A lot of advocates have vitamin deficiency due to being house bound, it will give your body and mind the boost you need.
Connect with friends.
Online, over the phone, in person. Reach out and connect.
Join a support group.
You are not on your own. That is what we are here for. For parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, foster parents, for ANY ADVOCATE to a child with disabilities or conditions. For life hacks, supporting one another, for advice, for a rant, for a cup of tea, for blogs and for printable resources to make life easier every step of the way.