Edna Freeman is an American mental health advocate and mother who has overcome childhood trauma in her own life and is passionate about ensuring today’s children don’t need to suffer without early intervention. Edna uses her story of overcoming traumatic childhood abuse to show others that they are not alone and that there is no shame in asking for help.
Edna was able to answer some questions about her story and the fantastic work she does.
Hello Edna, what prompted you to become a mental health/child abuse advocate?
Being a victim myself. I struggled with life, and I wish I had help when I was younger. I grew up with difficulty making friends and keeping relationships. I also kept attracting the wrong people into my life. Abused people tend to get into abusive relationships over and over again. My goal is to help those people to get help as soon as possible. As for mental illness, the earlier the diagnosis, the better, so people and family can also do their part to help. Early intervention is the key.
What is your process for helping young children and teens confront and overcome trauma?
The goal is to guide them to the right organizations, medical professionals and sharing my story. I feel that some people tend to see mental illnesses as a taboo or something made up. I want the voices and needs of people and kids with mental illness to be heard. I want them to understand and learn to be gentle with themselves.
Do you believe that most mental health issues stem from a form of childhood trauma?
Some cases are caused by trauma, and some are hereditary.
What can parents do to ensure their young child grows up with good mental health? Can a parent accidentally cause trauma without realizing it?
A parent can do good to the child by watching them and really listening to them. If your child show signs go talk to a professional as soon as possible and don’t take the first diagnosis. Make sure to talk to a few professionals before accepting any diagnosis. But the most important is to be there for your child.
Parents are also learning to be parents, so yes, a parent can cause trauma on their kids. One scenario is by bringing their own traumas to their kids.
Is it ever too early or too late in someone’s life to confront and overcome trauma with therapy?
There is not too early to confront it, but the older you get it gets harder to treat it. But it is never to late to get help. I got help later in life, and I am very thankful that I did, even though I wish I got help earlier.
How do you use cosplay and costuming as a form of therapy for yourself and those you work with?
In my case, cosplay is like I express some of the pain hidden inside me. I pick the characters that have a bit similar story as me. I love the costumes and makeup because it makes me a new person, and it gives me the freedom to speak without fear of being judged.
For readers who feel they need to discuss trauma and abuse they’ve suffered, what should they do?
Looking for a therapist is the first step or an organization like NAMI. My tip is to really find a therapist you like and feel a connection with. I had many therapists throughout the years, but only half were a good match. It is ok to try and feel before committing.