Far too many children are forced to endure what are called adverse childhood experiences or ACEs. The impact on them is immense — and can be long-term. An extensive amount of studies show that people who underwent ACEs are far more likely to display health problems as an adult. These issues include autoimmune diseases, heart disease, depression, anxiety, lung disease, and cancer.
Researchers believed that intense, ongoing stress can cause physical changes in the bodies of trauma survivors. These changes may lead to chronic illnesses well into adulthood. Perhaps the first step toward healing is to better understand what happened to you.
What Are ACEs and How Do They Cause Diseases?
Negative events imposed upon you before the age of 18 qualify as ACEs. These events may involve:
- Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
- Neglect or abandonment
- Domestic violence in the home
- Losing a parent to divorce, incarceration, or death
- Substance abuse in the home
- Illness, injury, or disability
- Living in a war-torn area
- Natural disasters
Such traumatic stress is believed to affect the immune system in a negative way. Also, trauma impacts the areas of your brain that manage emotions and memories. Your fight-or-flight switch can get stuck in the “on” position. This results in psychological distress and physical inflammation.
All of the above can put you at higher risk of enduring both:
- Chronic physical illnesses
- Unhealthy coping mechanisms which, in turn, can cause chronic physical illnesses
How To Heal When You Have Childhood Trauma Related To Your Chronic Illness
Your mind and body have already been through a lot. What you need now is some self-love. This is a time to let go of your guilt or shame. You did not ask to be abused or hurt in any way. The past cannot be changed but it can be processed and resolved. From there, you can heal from the physical and mental fallout.
1. Educate Yourself
The long-term outcomes of ACEs are not always easy to identify. The more you know, the better you can connect them to their source. Such understanding is crucial when it comes to seeking the help you will need. Dedicate yourself to learning more and finding the right practitioner to support your efforts.
2. Take Care of Yourself Through This Process
Self-care is non-negotiable. Creating a daily regimen does more than help your mind and body. It also serves as a reminder that you deserve such attention and care. Everyone’s self-care practice will look a little different but some elements are pretty universal, e.g.
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Healthy eating choices
- Regular sleep patterns
- Stress management
- Quality social time
- Daily exercise and physical activity
- Hobbies and interests
- Relaxation techniques
3. Keep a Journal
- You will need a place to keep track of:
- What you have learned
- Triggers and their responses
- Solutions and how you have been able to soothe yourself
- Clear connections you witness between emotional input and physical discomfort
Your journal will come in mighty handy in your therapy sessions, too!
4. Lean on Your Support System
Talk to trusted friends and family members. Let them know what you’re feeling and why. You may need an advocate at medical appointments. You may just need an ally in social situations. Whatever you need, it can be made easier with some loving support.
Therapy is a Powerful Tool to Help With Your Healing
I’d love to help. Your weekly therapy sessions are your safe space. You can explore the past while living in the present. All the while, we’ll work together to help you create a healthy, thriving future. Let’s connect soon for a free and confidential consultation to get things started.