Adverse Childhood Experiences 9: crisis wiring

I spoke to a patient recently about ACE scores. A veteran. Who has had trouble sleeping since childhood.

“What was your childhood like?” I say. “Was sleeping safe?”

“No, it wasn’t. We were in (one of the major cities) in a very bad part of town.”

“So not sleeping well may have been appropriate. To keep you safe. To survive.”

We both think this veteran has PTSD.

“I think I had PTSD as a child. And then the military made it worse.”

I show the veteran the CDC website and ACE pyramid: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html.

Adverse childhood experiences. Leading to disrupted neurodevelopment. Leading to a higher risk of mental health disorders, addiction, high risk behavior, medical disorders and early death.

Ugly, eh? Damaged children.

“But I don’t agree with it.” I say.

My veteran looks at me.

“Disrupted neurodevelopment.” I say. “I don’t agree with that. Different neurodevelopment. Crisis neurodevelopment. We have to have it as a species in order to survive. Think of the Syrian children escaping in boats, parents or sibling drowning. We have to have crisis wiring. It isn’t wrong, it’s different. The problem is really that our culture does not support this wiring.”

“You can say that again.”

“Our culture wants everyone to be raised by the Waltons. Or Leave it to Beaver. But the reality is that things can happen to any child. So we MUST have crisis wiring. Our culture needs to change to support and heal and not outcast those of us with high ACE Scores.”

My Veteran is quiet, thinking that over.

I say, “You may read more about ACE scores but you do not have to. And we can work more on the sleep. And we do believe more and more that the brain can heal and can rewire. But you were wired to survive your childhood and there is no shame in that.”

 

I took the picture in Wisconsin in August.

 

N is for normal

N is for normal. How often do you feel normal? Are your feelings normal? Are mine?

I kept my books from when I was little and I have some of my mother’s too. Some we wore out. I am thinking of Nobody is Perfick, a book by Bernard Waber. The illustrations are fabulous as are the sentiments from a kid’s point of view. Peter Perfect is held up as a model to all the other children: he is polite, he says thank you, he says please, he doesn’t roll in the glorious mud….. but…. the ending is very satisfying.

Does normal mean average? No one is the perfect average. Does normal mean the cultural norm? Are animals normal? Maybe we are all normal all the time: if a sparrow is normal and a deer is normal and a cat is normal even when she is acting like there is a phantom in the house…. maybe we are all normal too….

N

And since we’re on children’s books, I started playing with N words, inspired by another great children’s author….

Normal is nice, normal is nutty, normal is naughty and nasty and new. Maybe it’s nearly narcissistic to need to know that no one is not normal. It’s nasty to natter that Norman’s not normal. It’s naughty to name a normal nematode Abnormal Norma. Nodes newly known nearly never need normalcy. It’s not nice to knock nude nuts. Knight knapping is not as nice as night napping… nighty night!

Bernard Waber’s website: http://www.bernardwaber.com/

nematodes: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/nematode/soil_nematode.htm

I took the photograph of my daughter and two friends at an October beach Hawaiian birthday party…  the coldest Hawaiian birthday party I’ve been to, so the girls were gathering wood for the fire.