Traumatic Experiences and Quality of Life
Traumatic Experiences and Quality of Life For most people quality of life is good, maybe great, and different experiences can greatly affect one’s quality of life. Everybody makes changes to their life for example getting a new job or getting fired from one. Changes like these can dramatically alter one’s way of life. Despite this, traumatic experiences usually have the greatest effect.
They can fundamentally alter the way a person acts, thinks, and speaks. In the realistic fiction novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and modern sources, the authors explore traumatic experiences’ effects on one’s quality of life. In “‘Like Falling Up into a Storybook’: Trauma and Intertextual Repetition in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak” by Barbara Tannert-Smith and the novel, the authors explore the immediate effects of trauma on quality of life. In the novel, the main character, Melinda Sordino, is attempting to cope with her trauma from the summer. Although the reader does not know what the trauma is until the end of the book, the immediate effects are visible.
Melinda tries to escape reality by using her imagination. For example, at one point Melinda says, “I see IT in the hallway. IT goes to Merryweather. IT is walking with Aubrey Cheerleader. IT is my nightmare and I can’t wake up,” which is a clear example of her mapping reality onto her imagination (Anderson 45).
Tannert-Smith references this when she says, “In Speak, Melinda does just this, mapping the violent reality of her earlier traumatic experience onto an imaginative landscape” (Tannert-Smith 6). Melinda repeatedly references a student as “IT” which is later revealed to be Andy Evans, the one who raped Melinda. Traumatic experiences such as this one can have immense impacts on one’s quality of life as are demonstrated in Speak. Melinda struggles to cope with what happened and as a result overlays her imagination on top of reality attempting to block out the things she doesn’t want to see or hear or feel in favor what her mind has replaced it with. According to Tannert-Smith, children tend to do this, mapping imagination onto reality, as a result of trauma.
Both authors explore the immediate effects of traumatic experiences on children. In “Quality of Life and Dissociation in Anxiety Disorder Patients With Histories of Trauma or PTSD” by Meredith Warshaw, Eugene Fierman, Lisa Pratt, Molly Hunt, Kimberly Yonkers, Ann Massion, and Martin Keller, and the novel, the authors explore the effects of trauma on different aspects of quality of life. Throughout the novel, the reader watches as Melinda changes. Towards the middle Melinda hits a low point. She says, “I open up a paper clip and scratch it across the inside of my left wrist… I draw little window cracks of blood, etching line after line,” where she talks about her suicide attempt.
As a result of the trauma that Melinda experienced she’s been driven so far to the edge that she attempts suicide. According to Warshaw et al. (?), in reference to her study, “The subjects with trauma but not PTSD were twice as likely to report suicide attempts or gestures as the subjects with no history of trauma” (Warshaw et al. 1514). Warshaw’s study makes it apparent that those who have been affected by trauma can be driven to suicide.
Melinda is an example of this and it is clear that due to her trauma from the summer, there have been major effects on her life and the way she acts. Her quality of life has been so greatly affected that she doesn’t even consider her life worth it and according to Warshaw, this is a commonality among people affected by major trauma. In “The Impact of Trauma Mechanism on Outcome: A Follow-p Study on Health-Related Quality of Life After Major Trauma” by Katarina Bilen, Sari Ponzer, Maaret Castren, Hans Pettersson, and Carin Ottosson, and the novel, the authors explore the overall effects of trauma on quality of life. In the novel, the reader repeatedly sees the effects of trauma in Melinda’s life. For example, when she looks into a mirror she says, “Ugh.
My hair is completely hidden under the comforter… I can’t stop biting my lips. It looks like my mouth belongs to someone else, someone I don’t even know,” which is an example of the general health and hygiene, the overall quality of Melinda’s life being affected by her previous trauma (Anderson 76-77). According to Bilen et al. (?) in her follow up of people who had traumatic experiences, “Of the 170 patients, 143 of them admitted to feeling bodily pain and 120 admitted to having much worse general health… [they] had worse HRQoL [Health Related Quality of Life] ratings than the general population” (Bilen et al. 454). Bilen shows throughout the article that multiple areas including health, vitality, social, emotional, mental, and physical are greatly affected by trauma.
Melinda is an example of this as the reader sees these changes in Melinda’s life that correspond with what the article says. In the realistic fiction novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and modern sources, the authors explore the various effects of traumatic experiences on one’s quality of life. Many people go through some form of trauma. Almost always, these traumas change them. These traumas can have a wide spectrum of ramifications from worsened personal hygiene, to more drastic things like suicide.
The important thing to take away is that in order to get over trauma and get past the effects of it, one needs to understand what happened and learn from it.