Adaptive / Maladaptive Coping
During my childhood I started learning coping strategies to endure the abuse and dangerous environment I grew up in.
These continued on through into my teenage years and into adulthood.
When you need to learn coping strategies as a child, you don't necessarily learn the most adaptive ones. Many maladaptive coping strategies can be formed, which are very hard to unlearn.
Maladaptive coping strategies, are however, adaptive at the time when they were needed in childhood, but can be changed later in adulthood.
Maladaptive and negative coping strategies examples are;
Alcohol and drug use
Sex (risky, promiscuous)
Adaptive and postive coping strategies examples are;
In my teenage years, I developed suicide ideation, due to the severe, prolonged daily abuse I was enduring in a captivity situation. Trauma can be so emotionally devastating that suicide ideation becomes something that acts as a control issue and a way of coping with the ongoing pain. To me, it was something I had control over, where all other control had been taken from me under force. Suicide ideation is common in complex trauma survivors and with PTSD.
Suicide ideation can also be a coping strategy the sufferer visualises, to try to manage the emotional pain.
Eating Disorders & Self Harm
I also developed self harm in the form of a mild eating disorder, where if under considerable stress, anxiety or self hate, I would starve myself, until thin enough, or the stressful situation had resolved. I still struggle with this now and when highly distressed, I will stop eating. This is common in complex trauma survivors.
Drug /Alcohol Abuse
I then developed an alcohol dependency, which again did not seem obvious to me or anyone, but I drank alcohol on a regular basis.
Positive / Healthy Coping Strategies
I also developed some positive coping strategies, including dance and music, which were vital in my coping with the child sexual abuse, and later the abuse in captivity.
I still use music and dance as coping strategies and I have now added blogging, creative hobbies and relaxation techniques, building up my coping strategies in appropriate, beneficial and positive ways.
Each person can find ways to incorporate positive coping strategies into their daily life.
For some journalling is very beneficial, for some creative hobbies helps.
Animals can also benefit trauma survivors greatly and I have seen many trauma survivors on my community page state their pets - usually dogs, cats and horses - considerably benefit their lives, help reduce stress and anxiety.