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Many of us have told stories about having a rough childhood.
Others of us have probably heard our friends, family, coworkers, or community members speak about having had a rough childhood.
It seems a bit normal to some of us. We might even brush it off like it wasn’t that big of a deal.
But the truth is that a “rough childhood” has a direct correlation with many mental and physical health challenges.
Studies show that adults who score a four or more on the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) test will be more at risk for things like depression, work and school challenges, increased health risks, addictions, more likely to think about or attempt suicide, and others.
Sometimes it can be challenging to really pinpoint what it was about childhood that was so rough. After all, we were just kids back then, and we probably didn’t have a full understanding of what was happening.
Taking the ACE test may give you some insight into why you were experiencing challenges in childhood, and why you’re continuing to feel challenged as an adult.
Perhaps your challenge is with addiction or mental health. Maybe you continue to have health issues that seem like more than the average person your age. Or, it could be that the issues are with socializing and building intimate relationships. All these challenges can point to signs of childhood trauma, which is what the ACE test calculates.
Many of us may think of trauma as experiencing a natural disaster, being in a war zone, or experiencing physical harm to our bodies, but trauma is much broader than that. Trauma can look different for different people, because people have different ways of coping with stress. Something becomes a trauma when the individual experiences more stress than they can cope with.
Currently, we have all been impacted by a global trauma with the Covid-19 pandemic. And while sheltering in place and limiting our social interactions, we may be experiencing a high level of stress which creates a new trauma and/or triggers our old traumas.
Understanding our past can lead to being more proactive about our present.
If you resonate with the statement, “I had a rough childhood,” I encourage you to take a moment to go through the ACE test. It’s 10 questions and will only take a few minutes.
Once you’re finished, you can look up what your score means and the impact it may be having on you. Afterward, it can be helpful to speak with a professional, such as a therapist, who can help with unpacking what impact this is having on your life—especially while we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic.
Take the test here.
And remember, while tending to your own trauma, it will be important to be gentle with yourself.
Helpful practices while trying to heal and cope with trauma are: spiritual practices, spending time in nature, being in community, participating in positive cultural traditions, self-care habits, and asking for help from a reliable source.
As you explore, you may find other practices that are personally helpful as well. What will be important is to implement the coping strategies that work for you.