Recently, I read a non-fiction story that made me wonder about whether the author had suffered early trauma. Her narrative described a breakdown at around age twenty, in which she had become paranoid and severely frightened and confused, but the writer does not explain why these symptoms and feelings occurred. As a result, she was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility. A lifetime of medication and treatment followed. Many times in reading these types of narratives, I am left wondering about the origin of such symptoms.
Wanting to understand my own depression in my early and mid-twenties, I’ve read numerous books written by the sufferers themselves, but not one explained why she or he had descended to such depths in the first place. There were hints, yes, but never satisfying explanations. Many people are suffering Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) from having experienced as infants the trauma of invasive medical procedures and surgeries. The symptoms of such PTS can include panic attacks, depression, eating problems, self-mutilation, suicidal thoughts, and excessive fear (see www.traumatherapy.us/treatmentprogramsforadults.htm). The following material, taken from Dr. Louis Tinnin’s blog Infant Surgery Without Anesthesia can help us determine whether the source of our symptoms is early medical trauma.
Are [Your] Symptoms Due To Surgical Trauma?
How can one determine if present symptoms are due to surgery during infancy? Of course there is no blood test for this. The usual clinical diagnosis of PTSD is not enough because the present symptoms might be described by other diagnoses such as panic disorder or major depression. However, in the presence of chronic symptoms and a history of surgery during infancy, a trial of treatment may be wise. Answers to the following questions and discussion with a knowledgeable therapist can help one decide.
1) Did you have an infant operation before 1987? If so, what was it?
2) How old were you then and how old are you now?
3) Do you feel it has affected you over the course of your life constantly, only at times, or not at all?
4) How would you describe your symptoms or if no evident symptoms then your quality of life in general?
5) Had you connected the operation with your symptoms and if so how did you make that determination?
6) How long have you been aware of this connection? If not aware have you suspected there was something deeper at work in your life that you did not understand?
7) Have you sought treatment and if so what kind? How did you feel about its effectiveness?
8 ) Was the operation ever discussed with you, as a child, as an adult? What importance did your parents or caregivers place on its possible long-term effects if any?
9) Have you ever considered suicide?
10) Do you believe your life can improve with proper treatment?
Please share this information with anyone whom you might think it would benefit. It’s important to get the word out and let people know that there are real reasons for the suffering we experience.