Children and Teens
Imagine the following: It's been a really, really bad day; you've come home after losing your job. It's also a sweltering hot summer day, and you and your child hear the ice cream truck down the block. Understandably, your child is ecstatic, otherwise, the experience for you is average and largely unremarkable given the circumstances. Regardless, you take your child to the truck to buy them an ice cream. After they deliberate for what seems like forever, they finally choose their favourite flavour ultimately for it to plop to the ground not moments after the truck departs. Again, understandably your child is devastated. While the ice cream tragedy fails to move the needle on your list of true atrocities, your child feels differently.
Sometimes, as adults we forget that because many of the things that happen in children's lives lack real world implications, that the feelings they experience when something bad happens matches the true severity of the event. Despite the lack of implications on the child's life, in reality, the ice cream tragedy may evoke feelings of anger, despair, and sadness, in a similar way that the loss of a job may feel to an adult. Similarly, a teenager going through a difficult breakup, getting cut from a team, or even receiving a bad grade in school, can feel equally devastating the way adults do when bad things happen. These experiences are new, sometimes frightening, and can truly shape the narrative of children's self-worth, beliefs about the world, or themselves.
So, while lost desserts may seem trivial to the complexity and nuance of our daily lives, sometimes kids need help too.
Trauma & Adult Therapy
Trauma is a universal human experience. As stated in the 'about' section, the word trauma can be scary, but in reality we all experience trauma. Bad things happen in everyones' life and trauma is simply the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms our ability to cope. Sometimes though, people will develop a condition called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) where they continue to experience the effects of the traumatic event over and over. Some symptoms are even physiological. Otherwise, trauma can cause anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, disorientation, feelings of helplessness, etc. While it may seem like simply ignoring the symptoms will eventually make them go away, sadly, the opposite tends to happen. Untreated trauma can live within us for a very long time, sometimes symptoms coming out of nowhere at the most inopportune times. Therefore, while incredibly difficult, talking about our traumas to professionals is important. Little Tree Psychology uses empirically validated trauma treatments such Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) or Somatic Processing, to help people work through these experiences.
*Remember, even though an experience for a child may seem trivial, it too can be traumatizing. Unfortunately, there just isn't strict criteria as to what types of events constitute trauma, or even if some events will cause trauma in a person's life. However, some examples of childhood trauma are: domestic violence, divorce, bullying, sexual abuse, cars accidents, severe injuries, etc.
Stress and Burnout
Everyone suffers from stress now and again. However, what is stress? Well, imagine the following: you've planned a surprise party for a loved one. You order the food, put up the decorations, send out invites, and scheduled everything. This would likely be a stressful activity. However, once the party starts and you get a chance to sit down and put your feet up, the stress dissipates and you finally relax. That's probably a typical experience for most people, but what if you had to plan this party everyday? And now what if instead of a party, it was your job to do these kinds of activities daily. Or, what if instead of a party it was caring for a disabled parent, child, or sibling? The point is, burnout occurs when there is an accumulation of unchecked stress. Being burned out means you're feeling empty and mentally exhausted, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. This is distinctly different than trauma or depression. Trauma can happen after something devastating or repeated instances of traumatic events, while depression cause unexplained feelings of sadness or worthlessness, stress and burnout are sneakier. They do not require one event to leave you feeling empty, emotionally drained, and mentally checked-out. They do not typically happen for no reason. This is often why many people don't recognize burnout until it's very late into its progression.
So, next time you're feeling like the daily grind can't be associated with a mental health condition, take a moment to evaluate if you may be experiencing burnout. Thankfully, many people find that they are successful in dealing with their burnout by partaking in therapy.