When I talk about the connection between stress/trauma and adverse health outcomes most people think ‘I didn’t suffer any life ‘trauma,’ therefore there isn’t a connection between past experiences and my current health.’
This is because we only see ‘trauma’ in the form of severe abuses. The truth of the matter is that trauma can be simply defined as ‘anything in our lives that shouldn’t have happened, but did, or that didn’t happen, that should have.’
By that definition here is a shortlist:
Being bullied (even by your own ‘friends’)
Not having a skill or ‘gift’ that was acknowledged.
Not having a group of friends you could trust
Being made to feel socially, intellectually, or physically inferior
Not feeling like you could go to your parents with your problems.
Witnessing parental conflict
Having parents who often commented on your physical appearance
…The list goes on
If you take part in unhealthy actions even though you want to achieve better health, the harmful actions are most likely being used to medicate the unaddressed ‘pain’ of these issues. Issues that are often chalked up to ‘well that’s just the way kids grew up then’!
Maybe. But that doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t make you O.K.
Food, alcohol, laziness, and technological distraction are the most common and natural forms of self-medication for these normalized issues that we sweep under the rug.
The trauma/addiction connection is not all about physical/sexual abuse and hard drug or alcohol addiction. These are just the most extreme cases and therefore result in the most extreme coping responses.
Everyone has his or her ‘shit.’ If you don’t understand, recognize, and address yours, you can never be the healthiest version of yourself.