Childhood abuse and Mental Health

guess it’s worth noting that I am not a professional, this is a personal Blog and the thoughts and opinions written here are my own and from personal experience.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

There is no getting away from the fact that if you experience abuse or trauma it can have an impact on your Mental Health.

The impact that it has is different for everyone. It can be life long – even when you think you have dealt with it and overcome it, it can rear it’s ugly head again later down the track.

Abuse can and does happen at any age, but my experience of abuse happened in childhood.

I am currently at the stage where it’s rearing its ugly head again. I have undergone Counselling and CBT, which have helped in the past, but it is playing on my mind again recently. The thing that I am putting that down to is that my eldest child is fast approaching the age I was when I was abused.

There are diffirent types of abuse:

Physical Abuse

Sexual Abuse

Mental Abuse

Neglect

Domestic Abuse

What impact can abuse have on Mental Health

The impact abuse can have on Mental Health is different from person to person, it can depend on the individual and the type of abuse they have experienced. But, there can be similarities and I have listed them below.

Self-worth and Self-Esteem

When you are told often enough that no one else could ever love you, that the abuse is your fault or that no one will believe you, you start to believe it. Especially when you are at a young and impressionable age. The way you see yourself changes, you stop trusting your own abilities and start to think badly about yourself. You take those beliefs that you form about yourself with you into adulthood, they grow and spread into other areas. When you believe the abuse is your fault, you blame yourself for everything that goes wrong in your life.

“Its my fault, I must be such a bad person that I caused this to happen, I deserve it”

You question what you have done wrong or that you must be a bad person for the abuse to be happening. If only you were better, if only you were good enough then this wouldn’t be happening. As i child, i did everything that I could to disappear into the background and go unnoticed.

It can be really hard to change that pattern of thinking and change your beliefs about yourself.

Friendships and Relationships

Abuse can affect your ability to form and maintain friendships and relationships with others. You may have taken the belief that you are unloveable or unlikeable, so you question your friendships and relationships, often sabotaging the relationship and pushing them away. When you have such a bad opinion of yourself, you find it hard to believe anyone could ever like you.

Other people’s compliments fall on deaf ears and you may find that you worry about what people think of you.

For me, I have Social Anxiety, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Health Anxiety and depression. I struggle badly with people. I hate being centre of attention and try to hide away as much as possible. It’s not just groups of people I find difficult, it’s individuals too. I analyse conversations trying to spot anything I said wrong or whether I sounded stupid or if people think badly of me. It makes it really difficult to make friendships or form relationships.

Even with people I have known for years, I still worry and get nervous. Which has to be really hard for them too.

Trusting people

When you have experienced abuse, especially if it is by someone who is close to you, for example a family member or family friend, it can cause you to have problems trusting people. Sometimes making you feel that if someone who is meant to be trustworthy hurt you, how can anyone be trusted.

Trust is something I have battled with for a long time. Again, it can make forming relationships and friendships with others difficult. Once someone has lost my trust, it is exceptionally hard to gain it back.

Self-harm

Self-harm can take many forms, from hurting yourself physically and causing pain to starving yourself, over eating and to much physical exercise. (Using exercise as a punishment).

Normally Self-harm comes from the way you feel about yourself. It is important to ask for help if you are struggling with self-harming.

Parenting

One thing that did surprise me was the effect it has on being a parent. I worry so much, which I know is normal to a certain extent, all parents worry and have fears.

I guess the biggest thing is the amount of freedom I allow my children to have. I was abused by someone that was meant to be trusted, someone who was a huge part of my childhood. From that I formed the opinion that you never know who can be trusted. So I am probably over cautious on who is around my children, who they can be left alone with and what play dates they can have over other people’s houses. I guess it can be said that they don’t have as much freedom as their friends have, because I am scared of what can happen.

I stay with them when they are invited to parties, just in case. I know I can’t do that forever, I know as they grow they aren’t going to want me about all of the time. They are going to want to do things alone. I know it’s going to be so hard, but I will cross that bridge when we get to it.

Due to my Anxiety around people, we don’t go to as many events or places as my children’s friends do. I do try and attend every school event and every party they are invited too, even though I find it hard and my Anxiety plays up, I try to do it for them. I try to shield them from my Anxiety and Depression, they shouldn’t have to have it impact on their childhoods. It isn’t always possible to hide my struggles with Mental Health from them though and I taught them about emotions from a very young age.

My second biggest fear is that I will pass my Anxiety on to them, I really don’t want that to happen. So far that doesn’t seem to be an issue, they are confident and caring children, who have an empathy for other people’s feelings way beyond their years.

Loneliness

Having a Mental Health Condition can often leave you feeling like you are alone, whether that is due to childhood abuse or not. It’s hard to find someone that understands or has been through what you have.

When I was a child I struggled to talk to people and struggled to allow myself to get close to people. Partly through fear of letting this “huge secret” out, partly from the fear of being abused by someone else as well. Due to this I guess I felt different to others and I felt isolated.

I brought this through to adulthood as well, I find it hard to get close to people, to connect with people or to trust them. So, I often feel alone.

Self-blame, apologising and feeling the need to explain yourself to others

People that have experienced abuse or have a Mental Health Condition often blame themselves for everything that goes wrong and all the bad stuff that happens in their life.

I often find myself apologising to people, even when I haven’t done anything wrong, you know, just in case. Which can be quite annoying for the people around me. I often apologise for the way I am or because of my Anxiety and Depression.

I also have the need to explain to people why I am the way I am, perhaps if they know they wouldn’t dislike me as much. The need to explain away my panic or reactions to things, to explain about my mistakes.

It’s something I am still working on, people should accept you for who you are, there is no reason to explain yourself to everyone you meet.

Photo by Pelipoer Lara on Pexels.com

There are many more ways in which Childhood Abuse can influences and impacts on your Mental Health. The above are just a few and I will update this blog from time to time and add more.

Asking for Help

Never feel bad about asking for help when you need it. Even if you have had therapy before for your childhood abuse, even if you feel you should have dealt with it by now. There is no time limit on asking for help, you may need therapy for the same issue more than once or even on many separate occasions which can be years apart. If you are struggling with it again, please don’t suffer alone.

This blog post was one I had written for an old Blog, but wanted to share it on here.

If you liked this post, you may like some of the other posts I have written.

https://winterdragonflies.wordpress.com/2020/07/11/self-harm/

https://winterdragonflies.wordpress.com/2020/05/16/social-anxiety-seriously-sucks/

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