I never knew trauma could be so subtle and widespread. That adversity and trauma was a risk factor for chronic illnesses of all kinds. Nor that it meant there were tools that can support health and healing as well as prevention. I share the research here that I wish I’d learned as a doctor. It explains how and why trauma influences health, why effects are not in your head and why it’s not a life sentence.
Table of Contents
Update for 2022
I am slowing down from blogging for 2022 and planning few if any blog posts. This is a next step in my healing journey and a really good thing. Here’s why.
I continue to gradually improve a little every year although I’ve been more tired during the Pandemic and its many effects on the world. As part of my healing process, I suspect I am in a phase of “thawing,” in which my system, which has been in relative states of freeze for decades, is shifting in a good direction (Yay!). As an example, I have been having more difficult feelings in recent times. My guess is that these are feelings from childhood that were too big for me to process then – and that I can integrate now.
As a result, I am feeling a lot these days (grief, anger, rage, fear). Outwardly, I am doing less for now – less blogging, fewer interviews and summits, less teaching etc. Inwardly, I am practicing wu wei-ing: “Doing without Doing,” “Going Within” and holding curiosity to see what life wants from me next. It’s been pretty hard work (!) as so many of you who are doing similar work know first hand and I am making space and upping time with resources (such as baking :-). It is helping and I am feeling more joy and connection (learn more about this perspective with these 11 Tools and a recent blog post).
I still have a strong passion for the trauma and chronic illness connection and have much I still want to share with you, so I hope this period will give me clarity about next steps. I will let you know. Here’s to finding our path in all kinds of interesting and often unexpected ways :-). xoxo
What I learned, shared in my story of chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). How I learned about trauma I never realized I’d experienced (like most people, I just thought it was normal).
My personal stories about chronic fatigue, IBS, asthma, interstitial cystitis, severe food intolerances, prediabetes and weight gain. Working to heal using trauma therapies and trauma perspectives has lead to gradual improvement over the past 10 years.
Trauma and Other Chronic Illnesses
Type 1 diabetes (relevant for autoimmune diseases)
Type 2 diabetes (relevant for metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance)
Asthma (Gillian’s story, unexpected risk factors, and a cure)
Chronic fatigue (a body caught in freeze-like hibernation)
Rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease with examples of triggers)
Why It’s Not in Your Head
Introduction to epigenetics; the nervous system, brain plasticity, “pruning” and brain development; traumatic stress, epidemiology, and embryology; adverse babyhood experiences (ABEs); adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and more. Here are my favorite books and my free ebooks.
See my Media page for more talks, podcasts, interviews…:
Healing the Freeze Response at the Trauma Mind Body Super Conference
9 Paradigm Shifts in Chronic Illness, PTSD and Complex PTSD Avaiya University
Healing Childhood Trauma Summit Avaiya University
Connect With Me
FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK (this is where I am the most active with postings)
CONNECT WITH ME on LINKED IN
SUBSCRIBE TO MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL
FOLLOW ME on PINTEREST
Education & Training
What I’ve learned about trauma and healing informs every aspect of my life from working with my health as well as flare ups and triggers, to my relationships, self care, and the value of mindfulness in everyday life, and more.
- 2000 to now: Integrating Research on Trauma and Risk for Chronic Illness
- 2006-2008 SEP: Training – Somatic Experiencing Practitioner
- 2005-2007 PPNP Training – Prenatal and Perinatal Professional (Myrna Martin)
- 2003-2009: Private Practice: Somatic Trauma Therapist (Chronic Illness)
- 2003 MA Somatic Psychology – Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado
- 2001 Training – Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (Trauma Module)
- 1995-1998 Assistant Professor – New Hampshire-Dartmouth Family Practice Residency Program; family medicine, obstetrics and full spectrum care;
- 1993-1995 Locum Tenens (short term substitute in clinical practices, USA)
- 1993 Family Physician – UNM in Albuquerque Family Practice Residency
- 1990 MD – McMaster Univ Medical School, Ontario, Canada – “lifelong learners“
- 1986 BA Cross Cultural Studies & Pre Med – Antioch – “learning by doing”
My Journey to Blogging
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 and realized that this career choice wouldn’t work because my allergies to animals were so severe they caused my asthma to act up. I became a doctor instead.
I majored in cross-cultural studies & premed for a BA at Antioch college in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where the focus was also on experiential learning.
I 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. It has a medical student program and philosophy like McMaster’s.
After completing my medical training, I traveled the country doing short stints as a temp doc (locum tenens). I tested out different environments such as private, independent outpatient practices in Michigan and Rhode-Island, hospital-based clinics in Maine, 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.
I then settled down as 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 in 1998, I took a year off to gather myself and regroup. I realized that I could become more like my role model, Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, who works with the relationship between mind and body. My health got worse despite slowing down and de-stressing. I went back to school and retrained as a somatic psychotherapist. What I learned has helped me make sense of my symptoms. I got a Master’s degree at Naropa University and did specialty training in working with trauma, bonding and attachment. It was mind-opening. My fatigue continued to worsen for a few more years, despite intense, dedicated work with my “stuff.” In 2009 I became unable to maintain even my small, part-time, adapted-to-my-health-and-needs private practice. I stopped working and after a year, started improving. I am much better now, including having given my first talk at a conference. Here’s my story.
Research For a New Paradigm of Disease
My research has taken the form of scouring the literature and medical databases. I’ve been at it for over 20 years. There’s so much supportive science now that I can’t keep up. It’s a very good sign. I’ve put together new ways of making sense of chronic illness; and finding commonalities between chronic illnesses (chronic fatigue syndrome ME/CFS, MS, diabetes (both type 1 and 2), RA, Inflammatory bowel disease, Lupus, and asthma, 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 12,000 articles in my research database at this point. I’ve read most of the abstracts if not all the articles. I share these throughout my blog to validate just how much is changing in our understanding of disease.
Tools for Healing
Here are my thoughts on who to approach healing and tools for healing.
Therapies for Healing Trauma (with links to find a therapist)
Journal Article 2020: Veronique Mead 2020). Adverse babyhood experiences (ABEs) increase risk for infant and maternal morbidity and mortality, and chronic illness. You download a free copy on this ABEs Resources Page published in the Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health.
Book Chapter 2007: Veronique Mead (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.
Journal Article 2004: Veronique Mead (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.
Master’s Thesis 2003: Veronique Mead (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.
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.