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Mental Health, PTSD and ACE

I usually use my LJ for fandom fun and games, sometimes for whinging about work, and occasionally for real life reflections on various things. Today is option three.

A friend on Facebook posted a link to an essay about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. I'd never heard of it before - it's an interesting, disturbing and illuminating read.

After I had my first child, and as a direct result of my less than stellar family of origin, I started seeing a counselor and going to a support group. I wanted to provide a better family environment than I'd had, and I was terrified of becoming an abusive parent. After a few years in therapy, I read a book on surviving PTSD that had a very in depth self-assessment. I took it twice - one to to assess where I'd been before therapy, and again for the now. I was stunned to realize that I score at level 5, or Complex PTSD when I was in high school. After a few years of of support groups and therapy, I was down to somewhere between and level 2-3. These days, I've got low level, constant issues with self esteem and self doubt and all, but I figure, doesn't everyone? I'm not unique in that. I am triggered so rarely that I would not classify myself as having PTSD at all.

However, given the fact the ACE study refers to what appears to be the same stuff you find in PTSD assessments, and I scored so high all those years ago, I became curious. I looked around and found this ACE scoring tool and according to it, I've got a score of 7. Interesting, as it seems to imply that a 4 is high.

At the end, the essay essentially sums up with, "Therapy helps - go get some". No duh. I can speak to that from personal experience. Though I am thinking now that perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea to go back for a 'refresher'. Because it never hurts to talk to someone who can give me honest feedback and point out the things I need to work on in a supportive way.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 9th, 2016 07:35 pm (UTC)
That is disturbing and interesting. I'm scared to look at my score.
May. 9th, 2016 08:03 pm (UTC)
Interesting questionnaire. I got an 8. Could have almost eeked a 9, if it didn't assume that women can't also be abusive and instead put 'parent or step-parent'.

I don't have much patience for the cut offs of abusive severity. While I don't doubt that the impact of abuse near the cut-off is awful, they seem to count things as 'severe'... and then what? Where do I go? Perhaps they don't find any differences between outcomes for higher levels of abuse.

I don't think I'd meet the criteria for PTSD any more either.
May. 9th, 2016 10:01 pm (UTC)
I think what is interesting about this study is it seems to be saying that just because you don't have PTSD anymore - the immediate, visceral reactions to things that trigger - doesn't mean that those things aren't still just as damaging to you as when they first happened.

It's kind of like being exposed to emotional asbestos or mental radiation... the damage still happens in the long term, just like with physical toxins and poisons building up in your body. Any exposure is bad, more exposure is worse, and you don't just "get over it" - the damage is real, long lasting, and requires proper treatment.

Kind of validating in the face of all the people who say "suck it up" and "it is all in your head".
May. 10th, 2016 05:20 am (UTC)
*hugs* I am just glad you have had positive experiences with therapy.

May. 10th, 2016 06:03 am (UTC)
Life is hard when your family doesn't support you. Thank goodness for professionals! *hugs*
May. 10th, 2016 11:53 am (UTC)
We studied the ACE when I was getting my Master's degree in counseling.

A 'refresher' can sometimes be exactly what you need.
May. 10th, 2016 03:10 pm (UTC)

I think a refresher sounds like a great idea; therapy can be really beneficial even when someone isn't dealing with traumatic events to help people understand themselves.
May. 11th, 2016 09:54 pm (UTC)
I realise there's probably a lot more of the father I don't miss (I wish he'd stay out of my dreams. Or finally show some basic respect for me) than I'd like. I'd need to do a lot of reading & get my self checked out for any anger issues that would've aped his, before considering becoming a parent.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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