Today we are going to be talking about trauma. If you missed my last post, I am going to encourage you to head back there first. In my last post, I shared a video from LCSW Amanda Pratt with http://imaginelifetherapy.com . I have been recapping the mental struggles that we have to face with chronic illness.
This post we will be looking at the traumas that we face dealing with chronic illness. Whether we like it or not, trauma can have a huge effect not only mentally on us, but also physically. Trauma also can get in the way of our healing.
Of course the first trauma faced would be the illness in itself. Being in pain puts a toll on you and you fear the unknown. There are a lot of unknowns, not knowing if you will survive, not knowing if you will ever heal, not knowing if you will lose your ability to take care of yourself. That is not to mention the toll it takes on your marriages, friendships, and finances. There are not very good statistics on keeping a marriage together with chronic illness.
You get traumatized a lot of times from society and families response to you. A lot of times you find people questioning whether you are telling the truth or just looking for attention. You have others that say you are just lazy. Then you find out the people you thought cared for you really don’t. When you can no longer help them or serve them a purpose they are gone. Family who doesn’t want to be inconvenienced might disappear and friends stop making an effort, further isolating you.
You also may have experienced trauma previous to getting sick that hinders your healing. In example, with my case, I was in a very physically abusive relationship before I got ill. But, any number of emotional/physical trauma could be an issue.
The next one, is the one that has probably effected me the most in my journey. Amanda referred to this as the “iatrogenic trauma.” This trauma is caused by the doctor. This can include their treatment or attitude toward the condition. It can also include their lack-of treatment. This is a HUGE problem many people with chronic illness end up facing.
When doctors can’t figure out what is wrong with you because you don’t fit a perfect mold, they fall back on mental illness, or that the patient is making it up. Now I will say this is not all doctors. There are some out there that care. I eventually did get lucky enough to find one of those doctors, and I thank God every day for him, but I saw a lot more of the aforementioned kind first.
These doctors do what Amanda referred to as “Gaslighting.” This is a form of abuse on the doctors part when they dismiss you and treat you like you are crazy. It can lead to anxiety, feelings of blame, isolation, fear, and shame. This also leads to you questioning your own sanity, as well as sometimes leads to PTSD.
I saw 4 different neurologists who did this to me and because of this, I never want to see an neurologist again. My general doctor is the only one I feel comfortable talking to about my health, because he is the only one who has acted like he believes me and cares. Anytime I have to see a different doctor I get high anxiety.
Ultimately trauma leads to stress on the body and stress can exacerbate symptoms. I’m sure that goes without saying. So, with that said, we will wrap up in the next post with how to take steps toward healing. Till then, stay hopeful and take care!