On Monday, I didn’t feel well. On Tuesday, I felt worse, and so took the day off from work.
While I wasn’t suffering from coronavirus, there was an indirect correlation with it.
Understanding the correlation helped me set myself down a different path.
In my last post, I wrote about healing the enduring psychological consequences of childhood trauma.
I did not write about the ways trauma continues to impact my physical health.
In my first post on this blog, I wrote:
My childhood home was filled with trauma. Specifically, of the ten adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) studied by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente, I experienced eight. As explained at ACES Too High, experiencing even one ACE can adversely impact a person’s lifelong health. People who experience four or more are at massively increased risks of poor health outcomes.
I didn’t dive into detail about the “poor health outcomes.” But as Aces Too High explains,
people with four ACEs— including living with an alcoholic parent, racism, bullying, witnessing violence outside the home, physical abuse, and losing a parent to divorce — have a huge risk of adult onset of chronic health problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, suicide, and alcoholism.
The long-term health picture gets even more grim for those with an ACE score of six or more:
Biomedical researchers say that childhood trauma is biologically embedded in our bodies: Children with adverse childhood experiences and adults who have experienced childhood trauma may respond more quickly and strongly to events or conversations that would not affect those with no ACEs, and have higher levels of indicators for inflammation than those who have not suffered childhood trauma. This wear and tear on the body is the main reason why the lifespan of people with an ACE score of six or higher is likely to be shortened by 20 years.
After first posting on this blog, I realized I actually had a score of nine. When I’d first taken the test, I misunderstood what addiction was, and thus answered “no” to what I later had the knowledge to answer, accurately, “yes.”
Whether with a score of either eight or nine, my health today—same as the health of each of my siblings—is greatly impacted by all I endured when I was young.
Over last weekend, I became more and more immersed in Twitter. I felt compelled to track each minute detail of coronavirus spread and global response. I felt twinges of unrest as I did so, but I simply. had. to know.
As Monday progressed, twinges of unrest grew into a deeper unsettlement. Despite that, I checked a few times per hour to see what the very-newest coronavirus word was.
I felt worse with each check-in, but that didn’t stop me.
When Tuesday morning rolled around, I could barely see straight. With anxiety feeding physical harm and physical harm feeding anxiety, I was too far from equilibrium to immediately know how to get back to it.
Coronavirus wasn’t the cause, but my focus on its global spread was a strong contributor, amplifying my predisposition to poor health.
I checked my blood sugar, something I’d done occasionally as part of my old keto regimen. Diabetes runs in my family, and I’m at higher risk for it due to adverse childhood experiences.
My blood sugar was far, far higher than usual. With that, I knew what to do to quickly return to equilibrium: rest and fast. For me, this has worked since I first intentionally went keto (low carb) a couple years ago; I then saw my asthma and allergies virtually disappear within two weeks.
I called in sick and spent most the day in bed. I (mostly) kept away from Twitter and the news–from immersing myself in sad states of affairs over which I have little to no control.
By Wednesday morning, I felt a little tired, but orders of magnitude better than I had on Monday or Tuesday.
Today, having kept it going, I feel better still, by far.
When I first started having health problems after prolonged chemical exposure seven or eight years ago, I had no idea what was wrong. I had no idea how to address it.
I’m so grateful to, today, understand how inseparable are my physical and psychological health, and also to understand what I can do to improve my total health. While I can’t undo what I endured in childhood, or some of the later traumas that followed, I can take steps to minimize their impacts today.
I’m so grateful to know the steps.
Today, then, I’ve read while sipping coffee.
I’ve bounced on my family’s small indoor trampoline.
I’ve taken the dog out and reveled in the brilliance of the morning sun.
I’ve watched my sons do art projects and antagonize each other, and have savored the calm within despite what’s happening without.
Books are strewn across my bedroom.
Many of these books are on public health. This time last year, I’d ordered several related books before then discovering a passion for social work.
The last few weeks, it’s become clear that public health is My Passion; the brother-in-law who told me to research it accurately predicted I’d fall for it even before I knew what “it” was. It was on his recommendation that I’d ordered all these then-discarded books last year.
That’s where I’ll point my studies, and aspirations for a later career: to public health. To prospects for working to improve everyone’s health, globally. To strive to ensure fewer and fewer children endure the long-term health consequences of insecurity and trauma, and that adults, too, have increased opportunities to be healthy.
Today, instead of spending my reading moments on Twitter, I’m reading on public health.
I’m thinking about all I have left to learn, all I have left to do, all that could yet be.
Instead of feeling exhausted by Twitter, I’m now inspired,
by memories in my heart and bones, and by words
on paper already in my home today.