Trauma and the Brain/Body Connection

So, I told you about my amazing practitioner’s massive intake interview process right? I had NEVER had someone talk to me about my trauma in direct correlation with my health before. I’ve had plenty of psychiatrists and counselors talk about how PTSD can affect you in many ways etc but no one has drawn a direct line and linked my past to my present health. Have any of you experienced this? Even now when I see other providers there are never any questions about a traumatic past. But, it makes so much sense. If someone hasn’t explained this to you, there is a wealth of knowledge and studies happening more and more linking chronic illness and ACE (Adverse Childhood Events) scores. Even if your ACE score is relatively low there are other factors that can inflate your risks; lasting trauma and subsequent physiological changes, repeat abuse, age at which the trauma occurred, etc. I encourage you to explore this topic if you’ve had trauma in your past and are now suffering from chronic illness. (Here’s an article I liked about linking ACE scores and chronic illness.)

If you’ve read much on Fibromyalgia I’m sure you’ve seen articles linking trauma to that diagnosis. Have you? One doctor explained it to me like this: Our bodies had trauma; car crash, accident, abuse, rape, the list goes on… and our neural pathways made a freeway inside our bodies to repeat this same cycle. So, our bodies are literally living in constant fight or flight mode. It’s as if we are on a freeway about to crash and stuck in the car, bracing for impact all day, everyday. When I really think about how powerful our brains are and how much they control I’m often frustrated that we can’t find a way to un-train our autonomic nervous system. A way to relax out of those patterns and subsequently find more and better relief than most of us living with Fibromyalgia have found. Or with my POTS/Disautonomia… why don’t we have better treatment for our syncope and tachycardia and why haven’t we figured out the key to fixing it and curing it all together? Electrolytes, diet, hydration and meds and still not a day goes by that I don’t fight my tachycardia or have to constantly pay attention to how fast I change positions so I don’t pass out. (Anyone else??? I know… PREACH! HA)

Then there’s all of the other chronic illnesses that have been linked to trauma as well, many of which do not involve specific neural pathways being broken or set on repeat. How does trauma lead to RA, MCAS, certain types of cancer and so many more? Why does trauma cause such huge physiological changes in our bodies? These are things I’m fascinated by and want to learn so much more than I have already studied.

Have any of you read a book called The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.? It’s another amazing resource. His book starts at the beginning and takes you through how the brain processes trauma and the studies they’ve done surrounding trauma and the brain and then goes through how our bodies hold onto that trauma and gives amazing insights into how to fight and treat some of our past so we can look forward to a better future. It’s not largely linked to any of my diagnoses in particular other than my history with trauma and my PTSD but the booked changed how I viewed myself as a an adult still fighting the demons of my childhood and young adulthood. If you’ve had any sort of trauma I would highly recommend his book. (Here’s a link to his book on iTunes, but I found it on and Amazon as well.)

I hope those of you reading these posts find some comfort in knowing we’re all fighting this fight together. You are enough, you are stronger than you think, you are a warrior and there IS a path to wellness for all of us, we just have to fight hard to find our own. Thank you for joining me on mine and please let me know what you think of the book if you read it/have read it already. I’m really interested to hear from other survivors and warriors if the book helps you or lends new, fresh insight.

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