Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Trauma and PNES

Last night I went to a Help One Child meeting where we looked at a video by TCU's Dr. Karyn Purvis. I can't tell you which video it was, since I arrived a few minutes late because of a certain boy who wanted me to stay home with him. But in the video, Dr. Purvis was describing the influence of trauma on the brain, including the level of all sorts of chemicals and neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, and also the incidence of psychogenic seizures. And the kids aren't the only ones who show signs of disrupted brain chemicals. The parents raising the kids are affected too, and it can be quantified.

It was a really interesting video and I learned quite a bit. I also learned that I need to learn more about these things, since I have to deal with the effects of past trauma and FASD every single day. It amazed me when she said that about 30% of kids she sees from hard places have signs of some kind of psychologically based seizure. After seeing this film, I realized that I had been seeing these kinds of seizures for years, but didn't recognize them until Ms. D had a full, fall on the ground, shaking one. I also realized that even yesterday, she had some minor ones that I didn't recognize. While helping her with schoolwork, she stared off an on and twitched a bit. It was hard for her to focus. Now I know why!

So what do I do with this information? I need to learn how to better help the kids. This morning I read an article about PNES, or Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures. I am realizing that my kids are experiencing a lot more stress than I thought. They have been acting so strangely lately, even before they found out the birth dad was coming up here. The visits have compounded their stress, so we need to take that into account when making decisions. I'm glad that Ms. D is seeing a psychologist and that we have our old social worker to bounce things off of. We really can't do it alone. And finally, I need to learn how I can reduce the stress response in myself better. A stressed out mom isn't able to help stressed out kids as well as one who is happy and peaceful. The toll the stress of the nearly ten years of parenting kids from hard places has taken on my mind and body isn't good. I've gained weight, my emotions are all over the place, and I've had more migraines and asthma. The attempts I've made to help myself are too few and too little.

I don't know how I'll be able to handle the next few years, except for God helping me. And in a way, we all are in the same boat. None of us knows what the future will hold. We see storms in the horizon. But if we fix out eyes on God, and look to him for our help, we will be able to make it.

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