HEALTH AND CONSCIOUS AWARENESS
Health, self-actualization and caring for oneself are complicated when we come from a history of trauma.
In the book Violence Against Women, edited by Katherine M.J. McKenna and June Larkin, there was a study of the complex relationship between childhood abuse and chronic pain, chronic headaches, abdominal pain and gastro-intestinal complaints. It was noted that these are symptoms commonly experienced by survivors of violence. Chest and throat pain, respiratory symptoms, musculoskeletal and neurological symptoms are also cited.
Our bodies carry incredible knowledge and wisdom and I have learnt to listen.
I feel it is important to speak to the intersection/interconnection between trauma and health. A study showed that patients with abuse histories were significantly more likely to have diabetes than their non-abused counterparts. When I read this information a few years ago it made sense to me. It offered me a new way to look at my own chronic illnesses which kept presenting through the years.
I live with type 2 diabetes, and I am in a recovery process for disordered eating and restriction. I came to realize that the absence of protection and safety as a child and being put on diets from the age of 10 later affected me. In my early 20’s I was anorexic and vacillated between bingeing and restriction.
Through the years I learnt to build a healthy attachment with my therapist, through mutual respect, trust, clear boundaries and safety. In our work together, she would ask me to bring in a particular food object. Each week I would notice where it had been placed in the room and I would become aware of my own body’s response when the food would change position. At times, I had flashbacks of my own personal herstory. These became known to me as “body memories” and we would slow the process down to experience it somatically. This process was therapeutic and supportive. I have learnt about my attachment. I am now aware of choice and understand nourishment. As I continue to lean into living more in my body, I develop a greater understanding of my own feelings, in all of the causes and conditions. This has impacted my diabetes management.
It is a continuous practice, making small incremental changes and repeating those changes to ensure that they become a part of new patterning. There is no food that is considered a diet food. I no longer diet. There is no food that is off the list, unless I dislike a particular food. Taking my glucose levels is a consistent practice of compassion and offering awareness.
It is important to note that some health practitioners/health professionals lack the training and understanding to provide full care for their patients. Springtide Resources offered an online course for Dental Hygienists and other professionals in how to discern and work with survivors. Within the last four years, Diabetes Nurses, Social Workers, and the health community are just beginning to acknowledge how trauma and diabetes intersect. Within the National Eating Disordered Community trauma is now being spoken about as part of the causes and conditions of eating disorders. The silence is being broken and named.
I would like to begin a dialogue together.