The discovery series presents science-based posts describing research that helped me understand what caused my chronic illness. It helps make sense of chronic illnesses of all kinds. I believe it will help make sense of yours too. It’s introduces solid science I never heard of as a doctor. I’ve written this series in particular for people with chronic illness who have no history of trauma although it provides useful information for those with a history as well as health care professionals and others.
These are detailed posts with references that counteract the prevailing and outdated belief that chronic illness is in any way “psychological.”
When I left medicine and gradually became sicker, I wondered what caused my chronic illness. I retrained in a Master’s degree program that introduced me to new research. And I explored whether my chronic illness could be the result of an intelligent process gone awry.
The studies didn’t say our diseases were psychological. They showed that life experiences shape our health.
The field of epigenetics has since explained this occurs because life events alter our genes.
The research supports what those of us with a chronic illness already know deep down, even when we doubt ourselves. Which is that our chronic illnesses are very real and not linked to being crazy, wimpy, “too negative,” seeking attention, being failures, or being the cause of our symptoms.
It’s not in our heads. It’s in the way our bodies develop in response to life experiences.
What Caused My Chronic Illness?
The research I discovered completely changed my world view. The studies come from evidence in all kinds of different chronic diseases. Along the way I found that the pathways to cause are similar. Each post is therefore relevant to other chronic illnesses.
I tell the story from the beginning of my journey so you can assess what makes sense for yourself. This is especially true if you have a chronic illness and no history of trauma.
These posts are like book chapters rather than short essays. So take your time.
Go at your own pace. Book mark them. Download the pdfs to read offline (you can use the social media icons bar on the left of every post to create a pdf). Sign up to get the latest updates by email.
Join the conversation. Share what you’ve experienced to help me and others in this little community keep learning and refining what we know. What does this research bring up for you? Does this information help make sense of your own story? Of the evolution of your chronic illness? Of your symptoms, flares or triggers?
Know that there are many ways of working with the types of events that affect risk for chronic illness, even when they happened in the distant past.
The Discovery Series
The Role of Life Events in Risk for Chronic Illness
#1 What if Chronic Illness is an Intelligent Process Gone Awry? Insights from Research in Type 1 Diabetes
#2 Early Life Experiences Affect Risk for Asthma and Offer Tools for Treatment & Prevention of Other Chronic Illnesses
#4 Recap of the first 4 posts on How events in pregnancy, birth and infancy affect risk for chronic illness
#5 Stress, Trauma and Type 1 Diabetes: Top Reasons We (Mistakenly) Dismiss Trauma as a Risk Factor (relevant to all kinds of chronic illness and not only diabetes)
Take the Survey: Do Adverse Life Experiences Affect Health? (The HALE Survey)
Future Posts in the Series
The Role of Events in Childhood
The Role of Events in Adulthood and Before Onset
The Role of Events in Our Parents’ and Grandparents’ Lives