I realized a few weeks ago that Tumbling the Stone had evolved and needed a new name. In part to convey more about the content. And also because I now have better energy levels, so I can write more of the science-based reference posts that validate what so many of us have experienced but have trouble finding information to back it up with.
I made this video for the blog and below you’ll find a rough transcript with a few edits.
9 Reasons Behind the New Name
I wanted to tell you that I’m changing the name of my blog. I can break it down into nine of the reasons that also fit with the focus of my blog.
1. Chronic Illness. The first thing is that my blog is really about more than chronic illness. I was noticing that when I was looking at other chronic illness blogs a few weeks ago. I realized that I need to do something with my blog’s name to help clarify what my focus is.
My blog’s new name is:
The Chronic Illness and Trauma Studies
how life events alter your genes and why it’s not in your head
The look and feel of my blog will stay the same and it should be up with its new address in the next week or two. Your old links will still come here even after it changes to the new name. I’ll post the link here when it’s up.
2. Studies. Point 2 refers to the studies I talk about on my blog. It’s a passion of mine. I really want to be identifying the literature and other people’s research about chronic illnesses of all kinds – none of which I ever heard about in my medical training or when I was a doctor. And so I want to keep sharing how studies support this new understanding that life events actually change how our genes function.
3. Life Events Alter Genes. What the research is showing is that even though we may have a predisposition for certain chronic illnesses based on our genes, most people never get a chronic illness unless there are certain interactions with environmental events. Environmental factors are a focus of ongoing research and include things like diet and exercise. They also include infections and immunizations (as well as breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, vitamin D, smoking, income, your parents’ careers at the time of your birth, and many others). Ultimately, it’s not known which – if any – of these factors truly affect risk for chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and others.
The environmental factor I’ve discovered to be an important risk factor is trauma. And it is a key focus of my blog. Like other environmental factors, life events that are traumatic alter our genes. Our genes stay the same but their function changes. This is what I’ve been finding in the research.
4. Trauma. So my focus on trauma is to share the literature showing that it’s not all about psychology. While effects of trauma include psychological symptoms such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this is not what causes chronic illness. From everything I’ve been studying the past 15 years, chronic illness is actually a separate effect of trauma.
What we’re learning, especially in recent studies, is that trauma doesn’t have to be the overt life-threatening event we’ve come to think of – whether it’s a natural disaster, or serving in the military in a war, or experiencing abuse. There are also really subtle experiences most of us would never even think of as traumatic. These include events that can actually stimulate subtle perceptions of threat at a nervous system level and in our brains. And in ways that mark our genes. These events affect how we respond to stress. They also influence how we respond to events of all kinds. So, that’s something I talk a lot about on my blog and in some of the most recent posts. The topic is something that’s an ongoing process in the blog posts I write every few weeks.
5. It’s not Psychological. Number 5 is a huge emphasis of my blog. If you have a chronic illness and a history of trauma, it doesn’t mean that your chronic disease is psychological.
6. When you Have a Chronic Illness and a History of Trauma. I decided to include trauma in the name of my blog even though it’s a really loaded term. This is in part because I want to explain and provide information that is hard to find out there.
I wanted to include it also because a lot of people with chronic illness have a history of trauma. And have trouble finding information that validates this, especially to support that it’s not in their heads. A lot of people have had a traumatic event that triggered their chronic illness. It may have been a car accident or a really stressful period. A period that might have involved losing a job or caregiving for a few years. They may have also / or instead had an experience of trauma in childhood, such as the loss of a loved one or abuse. This intersects with point 7.
7. When you Have a Chronic Illness and No History of Trauma. A lot of those who have a chronic illness, myself included, have no clear sense of trauma in our past. But something like losing a parent in childhood can actually be on that spectrum of an event that can be traumatic. Even if we don’t think it was that big of a deal. Or even if it happens frequently to other people and therefore makes it seem like less of a serious thing. So there are all sorts of events we never think of or don’t realize were traumatic.
And the research studies are showing they affect risk for chronic illness – whether overt or subtle.
The Good News
8. It’s possible to heal the effects of trauma. Part of how all this comes together is the really good news. It’s that we (the big “we” of therapists and other health care professionals around the world) have been learning how to heal the effects of trauma. This is true even if something happened years or decades in the past. Even if an event was way back in childhood, it is still possible to heal those effects. It is not a quick fix. And it’s not clear if you can heal everything. But you can really change and I have seen that in my own personal experiences and with the improvements I’ve been having with my own chronic illness.
9. New tools for chronic illness. So the whole purpose of my blog is that it offers Hope. And new tools. Because the links about how life events alter our genes really suggest that healing from difficult life events may have a big impact. They may help us heal our chronic illnesses. Whether the events were obvious and overtly traumatic, or subtle.
I’ll be writing about all these things and more on my blog (and you can find a lot about it in existing posts too).
Until next time!
Updates & Changes with the New Name
- The new name should be up on my blog in the next few weeks.
- Even with the new name things will look the same.
- You’ll still come to the same page when you search for my blog by the old name or the new one.
- If you’re already signed up, you’ll still be on the list and continue to receive posts.
- If haven’t signed up yet, you can subscribe here to get blog posts.
- I’ll post my new facebook page here once it’s up. I’ll also give you a link and reminders on my existing Tumbling the Stone facebook page so you can find your way to the new one.
- Share your comments (see the link below or the one just under the title of this blog post). I’d love to hear your thoughts. About what resonates and what you think about the blog name.
Blog posts about topics in this video:
Birth of a Chronic Illness Blog – with my first and only video until now
If you have a history of trauma: 11 Characteristics of Trauma and Early Life Events that Affect Risk
If you have no history of trauma: What if Chronic Illness is an Intelligent Process Gone Awry?
Therapies for Chronic Illness: Stress, Triggers and the Perception of Threat