Let us look at the process of going from healthy to becoming chronically ill to understand how our internal environment promotes health and illness alike.
One of the most common questions people have is why do some people become chronically ill while others do not?
Chronic Illness essentially is the culmination of the perfect storm.
In most cases there is a triggering event. This trigger can be singular or a combination of trigger events over time that are physical, chemical, or emotional in nature.
Physical Stress: physical trauma, car accident, virus, concussion, injury, diagnosis/treatment/surgery for a specific issue etc.
Chemical and/or Biochemical Stress: HPV Vaccine, drugs (including prescription drugs to treat a specific issue), tick bite, mould exposure, etc. and/or Biochemical changes that naturally occur with puberty/childbirth/menopause that create a hormonal imbalance that goes unidentified and unresolved etc.
Emotional Stress: Trauma, divorce/separation, unresolved grief, sudden/unexpected loss of a loved one, diagnosis/treatment/surgery for a specific issue, and/or trying to obtain a diagnosis to receive treatment for a specific issue and being routinely dismissed or told it’s in your head.
I know what you are thinking…
People experience potential physical, chemical, and emotional triggers every day without it triggering a chronic illness response. While true for most people, it is not true for all of us.
For individuals who develop chronic illnesses, it can be:
A) A singular triggering event/stressor as noted above.
B) A single or multiple triggering events + a cracked foundation. The trigger is often one more stressor on an already precarious foundation built on a history of long-term stressors.
When we build a life upon a cracked foundation it is precarious at best. Depending on the size, location, and number of cracks the foundation has determines if the triggering event needed is mild, moderate, or severe to take us from health and wellness into chronic illness/pain. For many without foundational cracks, it’s a slow erosion of health into chronic illness/pain.
Please note: While many people can attribute their illness to a specific event or trigger, many do not. Many individuals with chronic illness/pain do not identify or connect events that happened decades before onset of chronic illness as related because there is such a lapse in time between the event and the outcome.
Did You Know…
That the latest neuro research has proven that emotional pain and physical pain share the same pathway in the brain. As such, it is not surprising that eventually emotional pain can show up as physical pain in the body.
What creates a cracked foundation?
That cracked foundation most often includes one or more of the following:
A) A previous unrelated (to the triggering event), unresolved trauma.
B) Adverse Childhood Experiences as defined by the ACE Questionnaire. The categories include all forms of abuse, neglect, and family challenges. The higher your ACE score the more likely you are to develop chronic illness/pain conditions. * The ACE Questionnaire in my opinion is incomplete as it does not specifically account for things like the vast spectrum of experiencing racism, discrimination, oppression etc. which research has also shown can result in chronic illness/pain conditions. The impact of systemic racism, discrimination and oppression is daily, covert and not recognized by the majority including many of BIPOC who live with the impact daily. It is simply the world as they have known it and lived in it throughout their entire lives. We must also add in the number of overt racist, discriminatory, and oppressive acts endured over a lifetime which amplifies the risk of developing chronic pain/illness exponentially.
C) A genetic predisposition to/family history of physical, mental, and emotional health challenges.
D) Meeting the criteria for: ADHD, Anxiety/Panic/PTSD/CPTSD, Depression, OCD, and/or ASD.
E) A history of chronic sleep and circadian rhythm issues.
F) A history of struggling to regulate your emotions. As such you may feel as though: you are emotionally reactive to people, places, and circumstances, you feel all your emotions intensely, you may feel as though you have no control over the way you feel because your feelings are determined by how others treat you or their mood/behaviour influences how you feel etc.
G) Family history of trauma / Generational Trauma.
H) Chronic Longterm Stress. A series of life events/challenges that has left you feeling a mild, moderate, or severe level of stress often for months, years, decades, and/or a lifetime. Also includes mild, moderate, and severe levels of stress that has that have become so constant that it is minimized and considered “normal”. The individual may not even be aware of or interpret what is happening as stressful, they just see it as “that’s my life”.
I) Personality Characteristics: This is just some of the most common personality traits those with chronic illness/pain conditions and is by no means a comprehensive list. We have a tendency to put everyone else before ourselves, we are “YES men/women” AKA people pleasers, we are perfectionists, we suppress negative emotions such as anger, we often don’t believe we are enough (smart enough, pretty/handsome enough, thin enough etc.), we who don’t believe or see ourselves as being worthy/deserving of the good things in life, we worry too much about what other people think, we fear rejection, we often approach life with an all or nothing attitude, and we often think/speak in absolutes (as indicated by words such as always/never). Most of us have forgotten (or never learned) how to play, as such we take ourselves and life way too seriously. We are often workaholics, who treat ourselves as optional. We forgo self care all together or mistakenly believe that treating ourselves to things such as an occasional manicure/pedicure qualify as self care. Lastly, we often have trouble creating and enforcing/communicating healthy boundaries.
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