Saturday, January 7, 2017

Working Through Trauma Triggers



  Poor Kiana has had a rough couple of days, her trauma was majorly triggered and she lost it. She had been doing so well and then she got a cold. Her doctor thinks she has PANS versus PANDAS. PANS has the same symptoms, but is triggered by stress and infections instead of strep. Just what a child with early child hood trauma needs on top of everything else they have to suffer because of their past. Anyway, she got a cold and all those neuro/psychiatric symptoms raised their ugly heads.

So when her behavior went even further down the tubes we were left to figure out if it is trauma, PANS or just typical 9 year old drama. 

  She was trying to get out of going to school yesterday by dawdling, being defiant and raging. A symptoms of PANS is separation anxiety and she has been known to pull some pretty clever tricks in order to stay close to me, however trauma triggers can do the same thing.... but she wouldn't talk so I couldn't help her. I got her out the door and didn't hear anything from school so I hoped all was well, it wasn't.

She came home and went into a wild rage. I decided come what may, I am going to get to the bottom of this. She kept saying, "I just want a good life!" 

"How can you have a good life?" I asked.

"I have to obey and make good choices, but I hate doing that!"

"Think of it this way," I said, "Think of a person who is in a burning building and yelling, "I want out!" So someone comes and gets them out. Then the person runs right back into the building and begins throwing a fit and yelling that they want out. That would be silly, right?"

Kiana agreed so I continued, "You are acting a lot like that person. You make bad choices then beg for help, so mom and dad help you out. But as soon as you are out of the situation, you run right back in to it. You need to work on continuing to make good choices when mom and dad help you get your things straightened out."

I didn't go into the psychology behind why she tends to get herself back in a bad situation when we get her out, but this is why: many people with trauma/attachment difficulties feel safer when they are in trouble. When all is well in their lives, the door to attachment is open. When there is chaos and pain, they can dwell on that and ignore the attachment aspect of life.

After Dean came home, we talked about it some more and she told me what was really going on. I realized this was about a trauma trigger not PANS, so I felt I knew how to address the issue. We talked about why some things give her big feelings such as being separated from her birth mom and feeling abandoned. 

"Other children who haven't had that happen, can do things that you can't. They don't feel the same pain and fear you do," I explained. "What you are feeling is called trauma, you were triggered by what happened," and I went on to explain what that meant.

She burst into tears, "Why does my life have to be this way, it isn't fair!" 

Poor girl! "It isn't fair," I agreed. But knowing I had to help her I told her that everyone has triggers, "We all have things that happen in life that give us big feelings," I assured her.

I told her to tell me the whole story about what had happened once more and afterward her eyes cleared a little but she said, "I am still going to dream about it."

"Tell you what," I said, "Get a tablet and pen and instead of helping to do the after supper chores, I want you to write everything down."

She was sure that wouldn't help at all, but I assured her writing is one of the best ways to get big feelings out of our hearts and minds. I didn't have to do much persuading because getting out of the supper dishes is a pretty big deal when you are 9 years old!

  She wrote and wrote, afterwards her happy smile was back again. Another battle down, the war is by no means won but we will rejoice in this victory.

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