An Empowered New Way of Thinking
Here’s the science on types of adversity that shape health. So you can start making sense of your symptoms, flares, and journey. And support healing.
The 11 Best Tools
The most powerful tools from 20 years of my own healing journey. These work for others with chronic illness too and you can use them as adjuncts to other treatment.
Therapies & Healing
How to heal different types of trauma and normalize nervous system perceptions of threat. With links to find a therapist near you and more.
The Science, Stories and More
The science, fact sheets to educate your doctor (links at the bottom of every page), my free ebooks and more.
For readers like you with a chronic illness who are health professionals working in this field (or both).
You are not alone.
It’s not your fault.
And it’s not in your head.
Includes encouraging stories from fellow journeyers with chronic illness (Chrillogs).
Because It’s Not Psychological
- Free downloadable PDF or kindle
- 7 categories of adversity that affect risk
- The difference between stress & trauma
- Why trauma affects some of us but not all
- Examples with asthma, type 1 diabetes, ME/CFS, Parkinson’s, IBD, …
- 12 characteristics of trauma you might have
- Triggers: recognize causes of your flares
- Why it’s not in your head
- How it’s not your fault
- An intro to my story
- Tools to help you heal
- List of books, resources & references
The trauma and nervous system perspective is the most powerful lens I’ve found for making sense of chronic illness in 30 years.
It explains why symptoms are not in our heads, not our fault, and why the onset of our diseases can get triggered by different things – infections, loss of a loved, accidents, surgery, stress and more.
I was a family doctor and assistant professor when I left medicine because I felt I was causing harm. I needed more insights and better tools.
When I retrained as a somatic therapist I discovered research I’d never learned in medical school. I share the science and my own journey of recovery from my own chronic illness here. (Note that I have slowed down on blogging for 2022 but I am still here in the background!)
How Adversity Influences our Biology
The science is catching up to what we know from personal experience, which is that trauma affects our biology, our physiology, our bodies and minds. These effects are not psychological or from “negative thinking.”
Cell Danger Response
Adversity and support influence threat responses in our mitochondria. Cell danger responses can get stuck in fight, flight or freeze to cause symptoms. Our cells can also recover.
Life experiences in babyhood, childhood, adulthood and past generations turn our genes on and off through epigenetics, to offer the possibility for reversibility.
The Nervous System
Life events weaken or strengthen survival pathways. Nervous systems are “plastic” and can shift, even if they get caught in survival responses that influence chronic illness.
Types of Trauma and Adversity
Only half of the risk for chronic illness is genetic and even as little as 10% to 30%. Environmental risk factors like adversity are not only important but may be necessary to turn genetic risk on. That means we have more opportunities and tools for prevention and healing than we’ve realized. Here are categories of Adverse Experiences that shape health over years, decades and generations. It may help explain why got sick.
“… I found this article/ blog so enlightening! It has certainly helped me to come to terms with my chronic illness, Lupus. It is really good to get some quantitative data mixed in. See post and comment.
” I have always believed my CFS was due to trauma but I am just a patient … I particularly loved a sentence of yours where you stated symptoms are defenses to protect you. I still have a long way to go and am now old at 71 but the science of it all this thrills me. See post and comment.
” This article. …. mind blown. It makes so much sense. I went through a five year period of intense chronic stress before my body started quitting on me. Trauma….. you just opened my eyes. Thank you so much! See post and comment.