I grab my bike and start pedaling down my driveway and onto the street but before I get anywhere my mom starts banging on the window viewing the street. I look to my left and clumsily fall over, barely. My mother comes rushing out with my dorky spotted bike helmet in hand. All I can think is, why is she so paranoid? I was eight at the time and to this day I still hear that banging on that front window to put my helmet on. But after reading Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon, I understand what paranoia really is. According to Webster's Dictionary, paranoia is “a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others” (Webster’s). Madeline’s mother suffers from paranoia and specifically the mental illness, paranoid PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which allowed her to lie to her daughter for 18 years about a rare disease that Madeline had. The truth is Madeline is not the ill one, her mother is. But who can blame her, Madeline’s mother uncovered her paranoia years back when her husband and son died traumatically in a car accident. Her paranoia allowed her to want to protect her daughter, Madeline, with any means possible. Her paranoia can be traced back to events of trauma in fact, many mental illness can be traced back to events of trauma.
This idea of trauma opened up a new pathway of research for me and changed my focus to exactly how “trauma” affects mental illness over time. But first I needed to understand what exactly “trauma” is. So I took my journey to Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatric doctor in San Francisco that noticed that her patients seemed to have experienced one or more acts of trauma or as she calls them, “Adverse Childhood Experiences” (Burke). Nadine classified an adverse childhood experience as physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect, parental mental illness, substance dependence, incarceration, parental separation or divorce or domestic violence (Burke). I feel there are most likely many more ideas of trauma but this list is a good point in understanding what an example in the causes of mental illnesses are. Nadine helped me understand that these were the most common and in 17,500 people, adults, interviewed surveyed by her, sixty-seven percent have experienced at least one of these experiences and twelve point nine percent have experienced four or more (Burke). Even though this information is based off of a survey done in the San Francisco area, the numbers are able to give an expanded view for an average for the entire United States and in some cases the world.
Trauma plays a large role in people's mental health and Nadine’s research was able to uncover the likelihood of disease occurring in someone who has experienced at least one adverse childhood experience over those fortunate enough to escape acts of trauma. Diseases and disorders like hepatitis and pulmonary disease are more likely to affect those who have experienced trauma and mental illness involving depression are four times as likely to get it if you have experienced and adverse childhood experience and suicide is nearly twelve times as common with people who have experienced this (Burke). This means that kids who experience adverse childhood events are way more likely to end their lives because of the way the trauma affects their brains. Trauma in children is a major issue because of the developing aspect of the child.
A child's mind is continuously developing every second as more and more knowledge enters their minds changing their thoughts and views and actions. The problem is if those new pieces of information involve acts of trauma. Adverse childhood experiences affect the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis, the brain's stress response or the flight or flight response to an event (Burke). If you encountered a black bear in the forest, your fight or flight would activate and help you deal with the stress with either running the hell away or staying and taking on the bear. When this area of the body is affected by adverse childhood experiences adrenalize the fight portion. Children who experiences ACES are also more prone to PTSD. “Among young people who are exposed to traumatic stress, some develop PTSD while others do not. People with PTSD may experience flashbacks of traumatic events” (Traumatic). These flashbacks will last forever among a child's mind. A large victim to PTSD also includes war heroes who have experienced the visions of many bombings, shootings and the loss of friends. Whether they are children or adult causing them to forever, without treatment, be affected by their traumatic events and issues they experienced as a child.
Victims of War renter their home lands with non-visible wounds (PTSD) and yet nobody seems to notice that they are suffering
Boys and girls are also affected differently from each other. “Among the traumatized boys and girls, they saw differences in a portion of the insula called the anterior circular sulcus. This brain region had larger volume and surface area in traumatized boys” (Traumatic) and in girls “ the region's volume and surface area were smaller in girls with trauma than among girls in the control group.” (Traumatic). This data reveals a large change /difference between the boys and girls. I knew that trauma affects everyone differently but it is strange to understand that trauma can cause physical changes among the area of the brain. Having changed physical features could be the cause of why some of the diseases mentioned before appear more among traumatic affect people compared to those who have never experienced and large form of trauma in their lives. These traumatic effects on the brain could be the reason for 18.2% of the adult population to be affected with mental illness Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Suffer From Mental Health Illness Each Year (Bekiempis). This number seems pretty high and I wonder what portion of this 18.2% is affected by traumatic stress induced problems. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find specific data on this information but I was able to understand that Trauma is one of the leading causes of mental illness.
The overwhelming pain and coverage of mental illnesses.
I now know how large of a problem mental illness where 18.2 percent of the population is affected by a mental illness. After listening to Nadine Burke and researching the topic I now understand traumas role in the causes of mental illness and how these adverse childhood experiences affect the developing mind and brain of a child and makes disease more common among them and their adult selves. Reading the book, Everything Everything expanded my view of the topic by giving me a real world view of the issue and how a traumatic death or incident can physically, emotionally and mentally. The issue is much larger than what is first seen at hand and thankfully there has been large amount of research put into the issue. Trauma is one of the leading causes of depression and other mental illness, don’t believe me why don't u read Everything Everything and focus on the mother's pain and journey throughout the book.
By Jaden Little
Bekiempis, Victoria. “Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Suffer From Mental Health Illness Each Year”. NewsWeek. Accessed December 12, 2`016. Web.
Burke Harris, Nadine. “How Childhood Trauma affects health across a lifetime” TEDMED talk. September 2014.
“Traumatic stress changes brains of boys, girls differently”. Science Daily. Published November, 11th 2016. Web.
Yoon, Nicola. “Everything, Everything” Published By Delacorte Press. September 1 2015