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Forums / PTSD & Trauma / [low priority] Is this considered trauma?

Topic: [low priority] Is this considered trauma?

6 posts, 0 answered
  1. KazooRights
    KazooRights avatar
    4 posts
    2 July 2020

    Hey everyone,
    I've been talking to a friend recently about my upbringing and she thinks I might be suppressing trauma or trying to minimise or pretend that bad events just haven't affected me at all.

    Family stuff - my household is generally really chill, parents are together, no glaring problems. It's just that as long as I can remember, my dad's been really sick (chronic illness) and I've had to take care of him as well as myself and my brother. I've been fully independent in caring for myself since probably age 5 or so because I had to be - even cooking (or rather just eating whatever I find within reach) and fixing things around the house (and recently, getting my learner's with the sole purpose of taking pressure off my parents). Mum works more than full time, dad's incapacitated by his illness, and that leaves me to try to keep my brother under control most days. I don't do this very well though, as I'm just really exhausted and have been withdrawing emotionally from everyone for years, because I just don't have the energy to do this stuff. And that makes me feel guilty, too, because it leaves my mum to try to look after everybody and she's clearly just as tired. So now my brother and my mum fight all the time, dad's still sick and can't mediate, and I just withdraw/dissociate/pretend to sleep or something to avoid it.

    And then there's the actual illness. Can't count the number of times I've seen my mum forced to argue with/pressure/guilt hospital staff into putting my dad on much needed oxygen when he's about to die (and the doctors are just like "oh its chill he's just psychologically stopping himself from breathing, he'll snap out of it"), while my brother screams at her for not letting him use mobile data for his games because he doesn't have wifi at hospitals (and I'm not mad at him, he's just too young to understand). I just feel bad for my mum and want to help, but I'm completely useless all the time.

    People keep reacting with shock and are trying to convince me that this is valid trauma but it just... doesn't feel like enough. Everyone goes through loss and people die all the time. My family's not broken, abusive, neglectful or anything. My parents try their absolute hardest, to the detriment of their mental health as well. I don't think I have PTSD or anything, I just want to work out how much I'm actually being affected by the way my upbringing went. I don't even know what people mean when they ask about my 'past trauma', to be honest.

  2. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    6622 posts
    2 July 2020 in reply to KazooRights
    Hi KazooRights,

    We're so grateful that you have reached out to our community tonight, we know that it is not an easy thing to do and you have shown a lot of strength in sharing your story. We're also really sorry to hear of what you and your family are going through, it sounds like you have been doing the best you can for quite some time to help and support your parents and your brother. We understand that you're feeling exhausted, but please know that your feelings are important, and our wonderful community is here to provide you with as much support, advice and conversation as you need.

    If you feel it may be helpful to talk through these feelings, we'd also recommend reaching out to our friends at Kids Help Line. They are a confidential and anonymous, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged 25 and under, and can help talk through these experiences with you anytime by phone (1800 55 1800) or through their 24/7 webchat: https://kidshelpline.com.au/get-help/webchat-counselling 

    We’d also welcome you to reach out to our Support Service, which is available 24/7 by phone on 1300 22 4636 or on Webchat 3pm-12am AEST on our website: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport. One of the friendly counsellors will be able to talk through these feelings and experiences with you and can offer you support, as well as advice and referrals.

    We hope that you find some comfort here in the words of wisdom and kindness that our community can offer. Please feel free to keep checking in and let us know how you are going, whenever you feel up to it.
     
  3. White Rose
    Champion Alumni
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    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
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    White Rose avatar
    6325 posts
    2 July 2020 in reply to KazooRights

    Dear KazooRights

    Hello and welcome. You have described what is a fairly common problem these days. This does not mean it's right or that there is no trauma in your life. Caring for your parents from the age of five is far too heavy a load for you. May I ask how old you are now? Are you still at school? Being chronically exhausted is not good and stops your immune system from working at full capacity. While you are young you may be pretty healthy but these things catch up with us after a while. I expect your mom feels this way as well.

    Has no one ever suggested some in-home care for your dad? I think he would be eligible under the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) for home help for himself and also home maintenance. I am surprised the hospital doctors have not suggested this. Perhaps your mom can ask your GP about it or you can access the government NDIS portal for more information. hhttps://www.ndis.gov.au/participants/using-your-plan/managing-your-plan/how-use-myplace-portal

    Trauma is not one or two incidents. It can be constant situations that have a negative impact on you. You certainly come into this category. I understand you are used to this life and as a child would assume it was normal for everyone. Children do not often question situations that no one else queries. "It's just life" Well you are feeling the effects now and I suggest a chat to your GP would be a good start. Does your GP know about your dad's medical condition and that you are in effect his carer?

    How did you get on at school? I wonder if you found it difficult to keep up with the class and do your homework at night. These things have a huge impact on us. PTSD is not something that only happens to emergency services people or those in the armed forces. They can and do experience horrendous situations and sights but the smaller, daily events have the same overall effect. Please talk to your doctor about getting help for yourself and to get help for your mom and dad.

    Love to hear from you again.

    Mary

  4. romantic_thi3f
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    3151 posts
    3 July 2020 in reply to KazooRights

    Hi KazooRights,

    Thank you for your post and for reaching out and sharing what's been happening. I knew that I wanted to respond to this one once I saw (low priority] in the title. If there's anything that I know about my experiences of trauma, it's invalidating how bad it is.

    Nobody gets to decide if things are traumatic except for you. Anything can be trauma - there's no list out there of things that "get to be traumatic". The idea of trauma is that it overwhelms us and the way we cope. That's it.

    I think that it's really sad that you've been in this situation, through no fault of your own. While you haven't been abused, the way you grew up wasn't how it was 'supposed' to be. I don't really like the word normal, but I'm going to use it anyway because it makes sense - normal at age 5 is being a kid and playing and running amuck. You didn't get those experiences. Of course it would affect your upbringing. I honestly think it would be unusual if it didn't. Especially seeing your Dad in hospital; it sounds terrifying to have to witness, especially over and over.

    I hope that this gives you even a tiny bit of comfort. You haven't done anything wrong.

    rt

  5. Mindfully23
    Mindfully23 avatar
    3 posts
    3 July 2020 in reply to KazooRights

    Hi KazooRights,

    Thank you for reaching out to the community for support! It sounds like you have been having a tough time for quite a while.

    Although you may feel like your past experiences may not be enough to be considered trauma, it doesn't mean that you haven't experienced it. Having a chronically ill parent, and thus taking on more household responsibilities to help support your parents can definitely be traumatic, especially when it is occurring for a prolonged period of time.

    You sound like a very resilient person to have continued to support your family for so long, despite the physiological and psychological effects it is having on you. I think you may benefit from contacting your GP and asking about your eligibility to go on a Mental Health Care Plan. Seeing a Psychologist will help with talking about your struggles and the trauma you have been experiencing over the years, as well as finding coping strategies in the long run. As for easing the pressure off of you and your Mum to support your Dad and brother, it may be worth investigating whether your Dad could apply for support through the NDIS. Even if it's only for a few hours a day a few days a week, it could help a lot and give you and your Mum some well deserved time to yourselves.

    All the best,

    Mindfully23

  6. Elizabeth CP
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
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    Elizabeth CP avatar
    2485 posts
    3 July 2020 in reply to KazooRights

    I think it might be helpful to reach out to Carers Australia. They have special programs for young carers. Having someone who really understands would be helpful. Whether your experience is trauma or not is not relevant. what matters is getting support to cope with what has happened /is happening.

    I have PTSD related to an event in my childhood. Like you I had a good family but I felt guilty for my response during this traumatic event as a child. While I couldn't stop the event there were things I could have done which would have helped our family & I still 55 years later still struggle with negative feelings re this event & me not doing enough. If I had got support when I was young I would have learnt to deal with it better.

    I hope you can get some support so you can get a more realist view of what you have done- You have really helped your family to the best of your ability. You can learn to use your experiences in the future Your experience has taught you things & enabled you to develop skills far above most other people, & perhaps finding some practical supports for your family so you & your mother have time to do what matters.

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