I’ve spent the past 15 years recognizing how trauma is much more subtle and widespread than I learned as a doctor and discovering the research I never knew of showing how and why trauma is a risk factor for chronic illness as well as mental illness and other health conditions. Here’s the background that informs my blog and research.
- BA Cross Cultural Studies & Pre Med – Antioch College – experiential education, “learning by doing”
- MD – McMaster University Medical School, Ontario, Canada – “teaching students to become lifelong learners”
- Family Physician – University of New Mexico in Albuquerque Family Practice Residency
- Assistant Professor – New Hampshire Dartmouth Family Practice Residency Program
- MA Somatic Psychology / Body-Based Psychotherapy – Naropa University in Boulder, CO working with the wisdom & language of the body
- Nervous System Specialist working with Somatic & Trauma therapies – specializing in Chronic Illness
- Training – Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (Trauma)
- Training – Somatic Experiencing (Trauma)
- Training – Prenatal and Perinatal Professional Training (working with adults)
- 20 years personal chronic illness exploration from “the inside” – learning about triggers, risk factors, rates of onset, process of progression (worsening) and resolution, working with flares, affinities for & difficulties with treatment modalities, discovering & working with effects of experiences in the womb & birth, in infancy & childhood, in parent-child relationships, from trauma in adulthood and in my ancestors, & past lives
- insights from personal experience with chronic fatigue, IBS, asthma, interstitial cystitis, food intolerances, possible Sjogren’s, and accompanying emotional states such as grief & depression, anxiety & frustration, fear, negative beliefs; with gradual onset and improvement while still limited, especially by fatigue
- 15 years investigative research in different chronic illnesses, medicine, epigenetics, neurophysiology, neurological development, traumatic stress, epidemiology, brain plasticity; embryology, prenatal, and early childhood development and more.
Master’s Thesis: Mead, V. P. (2003). Somatic psychology theory and the origins of chronic illness: a case study of type 1 diabetes. Somatic Psychology. Boulder (CO), Naropa University: 427 p.
Journal Article: Mead, V. P. (2004). “A new model for understanding the role of environmental factors in the origins of chronic illness: a case study of type 1 diabetes mellitus.” Med Hypotheses 63(6): 1035-1046.
Book Chapter: Mead, V. P. (2007). Timing, Bonding, and Trauma: Applications from experience-dependent maturation and traumatic stress provide insights for understanding environmental origins of disease. Advances in Psychology Research. A. M. Columbus, Nova Science Publishers. 49: 1-80.
The More Detailed Biography
Education and Professional Experience
When I was little, my Dad encouraged me to try things out in person to see if I liked them or not. I volunteered with the local vet when I was 11, for example, and realized within 3 days that this career choice wouldn’t work because of my allergies.
I ended up majoring in cross-cultural studies & premed for a BA at Antioch college in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where the focus was also on experiential learning.
I then found a medical school with a similar emphasis on learning by doing, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, whose mission is “to create life-long learners.” This style of learning has served me greatly in the exploration of my health and looking into factors that may have contributed to, and continue to perpetuate, my fatigue.
I attended the University of New Mexico for my Family Practice Residency, having spent my early years in Santa Fe, as it has a medical student program, and philosophy, like McMaster’s.
After completing my medical training, I traveled the country for a year and a half doing short stints as a temp doc (locum tenens), testing out different environments such as private, independent outpatient practices in Michigan and Rhode-Island, hospital-based clinics in Maine and with the Indian Health Service in North Dakota, and an isolated clinic in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was fascinating. I loved being in new places. And it was also incredibly stressful as a newly minted physician who was still wet behind the ears.
When I decided to settle down, I wanted to teach as much as when I’d completed my residency. I became full-time faculty in a small, community-based residency training program that was just getting started, in Concord, New Hampshire. I delivered babies, taught residents and medical students, bought my first house, and made good friends. Ultimately, though, I realized that I needed to leave medicine.
After leaving medicine, I took a year off to gather myself and my thoughts. I realized that I could become more like one of my role models, Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, who works with the relationship between mind and body, and went back to school to become a somatic psychotherapist. I got a Master’s degree at Naropa University and have since stayed in Boulder. I trained further in working with trauma, bonding and attachment, and specialized in working with individuals with chronic illness from these perspectives. It was wonderful. Mind-opening. It also left me with more questions that I’d started out with. And my fatigue continued to worsen, despite intense, dedicated work with my health and my “stuff.” I became unable to maintain even my small, part-time, adapted-to-my-health-and-needs private practice. That was June 2009. I’ll tell you more about this part of my journey in blog posts over time too.
My research has taken the form of scouring the medical databases for over 10 years now (as energy allows); drawing from my medical and somatic psychology training to put together new ways of thinking about the role of stressful life events in chronic illness; and finding commonalities between chronic illnesses (chronic fatigue, MS, diabetes (both type 1 and 2), RA, Inflammatory bowel disease, and Lupus, among others). I’ve also been using myself as a case study, examining and working with my symptoms and their relationships to past and present life events. I have over 8000 articles in my database at this point. I will be sharing some good ones as I present this model and I am curious to learn whether any of these concepts make sense of your experiences with chronic illness.
It’s been two years since deciding to start a blog. I’ve been waiting to have enough energy to make it possible. I’m still limited by ongoing fatigue, but I have a little more “margin” now. It’s a great way to support my tired little self that is bursting for a realistic way to bring together my passion about chronic illness with a completely flexible schedule so that I can finally reach out and connect with you. I am so excited to be here and to finally meet you.
Although I’ve worked as a doctor and a psychotherapist, the information contained in this blog is presented for general education and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
The model, although presented with support from the literature and personal experience, is only a theory. Take what feels like a good fit for you, discuss it with your health care provider(s), and let the rest go.
Here’s the full disclaimer, which I’ve tried to make as short and readable as possible.