I’ve lived with chronic illnesses for more than 15 years…….well actually longer than that. Some of these illnesses were able to be treated adequately, many others untreated because even medical practitioners were not able to best understand how the illnesses were affecting me. This left me feeling let down and more and more alone. I kept walking the journey looking for ways to be healthy but this path is difficult, wiping out all facets of normal living. It was last year after my rheumatologist pushed me over the edge, that I couldn’t take it any more – YES, I attempted suicide!
That suicide attempt was actually a positive and the first key that gave me the steps to true healing. The circumstances of last year allowed more reviews of my health and it was then that a neurologist sat with me and asked me a very important question and one that would begin a new journey to better health that I hadn’t known for years perhaps ever. The question was “Do you remember any childhood trauma’s or stresses”? Well, my answer was easy – “ fuck yes , excuse my language”
This specialist went on to explain to me that adversity in childhood can lead to a chronic state of fight and flight which creates levels of toxic inflammation and illness. Researchers have found that when stress hormones flood the body and brain of a child, they alter the genetic makeup and basically re-set the stress response to “high” for life. So I was beginning to get answers to why high levels of inflammation manifested into cancers, autoimmune illnesses and neurological disorders like mine.
This new research is fabulous, because it gives evidence of how a life time of physical, mental and emotional abuse can severely impact adult health. The percentages of people experiencing adverse childhood experiences are high and yes, include the obvious sexual and physical abuse, but even stress with growing up with divorced parents, mentally ill parents and having a parent who belittled you, increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with serious illness as adults. This research is showing that when medical practitioners acknowledge and discuss patients’ childhood traumas openly, their patients find healthcare that significantly reduces a need for doctor visits, because they can heal. The negative is that despite this very important and positive research, linking childhood stress to adult chronic health, the majority of the medical community acts as if these findings don’t exist, making it difficult for patients to validate health issues and find help to heal. Perhaps the bulk of our mainstream medical practitioners fear teaching this new research as it will open the door to bringing psychology into the medical treatment room.
As, one patient that has walked the plank with chronic illnesses for way too long, now learning that a lot of my childhood stresses have been why I became so ill, is also why I now stand up and speak out as a advocate for better healthcare. What is needed is a global awareness campaign. This global awareness campaign would be to educate medical practitioners and the general public on just how childhood trauma can cause chronic adult illness. Once this can be achieved, we can truly help those who feel paralysed by their past, so that they can achieve the healthy lives they deserve.
I know having a medical practitioner that considered my mind and body very important, gave me trust about learning how certain mental and physical health tools could assist causes and symptoms of some of my long term health issues. This gave me such a profound revelation in how my childhood had caused a destructive chronic health downturn, but it also finally helped me to begin to truly heal mentally, physically and emotionally.
With this research linking childhood adversity to chronic adult illness being used more openly by our medical community, think of how much money we might save in our health care system, if we seriously consider the role that past trauma plays in medical illnesses, instead of waiting a lifetime for it to show up in difficult to treat illnesses and diseases that ruin lives sometimes permanently. More and more, medical research is recognising proven interventions for recovering from trauma, even years after events have occurred so please help me as I build what I want to be the biggest global awareness campaign that is going to change the way we assist chronic illness health treatments around the world.
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