Psychosis is not something I have experienced, though I can see how the brain can suddenly flip into a convulsive state. As a non-expert, the only other term I have heard is "neurosis". It's a shame that being "neurotic" should generate the motor response of slapping either oneself or another person out of apparent hysteria. That "worrying" is simply a switch to slap into an off position.
Central to my experience is the issue of esteem; and deeming one's self to be "damaged goods". The self-narrative mechanism delivering one liners. "I'm fucked up". So eloquent.
This is accompanied by the general ACOA traits of murderous self-criticism and self-loathing. Self-loathing for something not done yesterday, or some error of judgement or collapse in confidence or magnificent humiliation.
Parent A's reinforcement of my worthlessness was incalculable in frequency over 23 years. These were issued as statements of fact; of one's rubbishness, yet often soothed or compensated for in some way by Parent B (the rare, sober version of parent A). Soothed but not remembered let alone redacted.
Emotional attacks upon the child's developing sense of worth from toddlerhood into teenagehood yielded a nervous and frightful person, and also more seriously, a person unaware of their potential (until now). The teenage child would then manifest physical symptoms of trauma for example by depositing clumps of hair onto school books. When hair begins to fall out at 14, this is a twisted and cruel turn of fate for the trauma child.
Emerging from trauma usually includes a process of destroying it in the memory. For years I imagined that I was ok and imagined that I did not need to confront trauma. But it has a way of outing itself.
Our behaviours are learned. In my case the behaviours I learned were that chaos was normal, and rare quiet times were spent in a hyper-vigilant state because the next bout of chaos was imminent. And there it was, ..so this behaviour was confirmed to be correct.
The problem is that the state of hyper-vigilance becomes grooved in the brain's primitive centres. The "ok" me was actually nervous, on edge, and anxious. I'm assuming this is typical in anxiety disorders. However with ACOA related trauma there are other many other symptoms, as seen in this list by Tony A (1978).
The first time I saw this list, I almost laughed. A strange reaction; however I felt relief that I could finally begin to understand what was going on inside of my head.
As a child I hid in a wardrobe.
I could hear the traffic in the steamy city streets below, though I felt safe where I was. This was Jo'burg.
I had a book or a comic. I had a pillow. I had a blanket. I was dressed in school clothes, and wasn't where I was supposed to be. Yet I had pretended to go, but instead closed the door loudly, had hid and waited for her to leave. And that "her" fills me with fear and sick and dread but also sadness. And now I'm a child again, and I want to hide again..
I hid in the darkness, away from prying eyes. I don't like eyes, and I don't like attention.
In my work I've tried several times to climb out of the wardrobe, yet I always seem to end up there again.
So I'm climbing out now and will try to not go back in there. And there are going to be lots of eyes so I had better get used to it.
by Paul Sinclair
This journal confronts childhood trauma, adult PTSD and anxiety disorder. There are also experiential themes of ACOA (being an adult child of an alcoholic).