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How PTSD Caused by Chronic Illness Reminds Me of Past Sexual Trauma

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I have Lyme disease, multiple coinfections as well as mold toxicity. I am also a survivor of sexual trauma. I am no stranger to PTSD as I have worked and moved through it at various times throughout my life. I’ve done EMDR, therapy, somatic work, meditation, yoga, reiki, hypnotherapy, EFT, shamanic healing and the list goes on and on and on.

• What is PTSD?

What I wasn’t prepared for when dealing with chronic illness was the rehashing of all of those past experiences showing up in “new ways.” PTSD with chronic illness patients is real and it arises from many reasons: being sick for so long, no longer being able to do the things you used to be able to do, people not believing you, people gaslighting you, the procedures you endure for your body, the unending doctor appointments, pills, herbs, cocktails of whatever you need to take to get well, the psychiatric side effects of the infections themselves… and the list goes on.

It’s interesting as someone who has been through PTSD and come out the other side, only to be thrown back into this world again to see the similarities in my chronic illness experience reflected back to me just as my sexual trauma experiences. Now, I’m no stranger to the mind-body connection and I know all about the whole ACE thing and how trauma really can affect you lifelong in terms of your immune system, your nervous system and your brain. I’ve studied Gabor Mate for years and years, I’ve studied Bruce Lipton, I’ve studied Peter Levine, I’ve studied everyone and everything I could get my hands on to help me heal and recover. However, I also know that trauma didn’t give me Lyme. I got PTSD from experiencing this debilitating illness and I am trying to work through that as I continue to go through treatment.

Chronic illness is hard enough. The rates of suicide are extremely high for those dealing with Lyme disease for many reasons: the infection itself affecting the brain and nervous system, the difficulty getting people to believe them, get proper testing and treatment and then actually getting through treatment with sometimes little to no resources or help available.

I guess the whole point of what I’m trying to say is, it’s important to address your mental health just as much as the physical and PTSD can actually be very common for people who have been through health challenges. It’s normal to not know who you are anymore. It’s normal to experience the many symptoms of PTSD when your body just has a mind of it’s own and when you’ve lost your sense of self and independence that you once cherished and valued so much.

So, please know you’re not alone. This is normal to experience. You’ve literally been through war with infections in your body, insurance companies and even people trying to get them to understand and help you with this illness. Help with trained professionals is available and coupled with a lot of self-love, self-compassion, self-care and whatever else you need to get through it is important.

Thinkstock photo via ruivalesousa.

Originally published: October 26, 2017
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