Self-harm and addiction are ways people cope with a negative view about life and who they are due to adverse childhood experiences. Adverse childhood experiences, or ACES, are often at the core of both suicidal thoughts and addiction. ACES includes abuse, neglect, parental mental health or addiction issues, domestic violence, or parental separation. If you have experienced any of these, you are not alone. 66% of adults have experienced at least one ACE during their childhood.
Childhood trauma can cause us to have a very negative view of ourselves. A negative self-image, flashbacks, anxiety, and depression can all stem from childhood trauma. It may lead us to believe that there is something wrong with us and we are irredeemable. These behavioral health issues then correlate with both suicidal thinking and addiction. If you grew up with one or more of these conditions, please know that what you experienced or what was done to you is not your fault.
When we experience abuse or neglect it is easy to believe we cannot overcome what happened. That is not true. You are resilient and can overcome and recover. The truth is we are all loveable, forgivable, and changeable. The first step is to find a safe person you trust and share your story and your need for help. If you need help believing this, Appleseed has counselors that will walk with you. Working with someone who can walk through traumatic memories with you can make all the difference. Please reach out.
-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCCS