Exploring the Connection Between Trauma Healing and Physical Health

[This blog was written for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and recently published on their website.]

Over 20,000 research studies have been done on the impact of stress on the human body According to medical experts, no one study definitively proves that unresolved stress and trauma can cause physical illness. However, my personal experience has led me to believe that it does.

I am not a medical professional, nor am I a therapist or nurse. What I am is a professional patient who has battled a lifetime of illnesses, from Type 1 diabetes and high blood pressure to Graves’ disease and stage IV colon cancer (twice).

I believe my complex medical history is connected to the sexual abuse I experienced in my childhood. Exploring this connection has been a key component of learning how to heal from trauma.

Facing the Impact of Childhood Trauma

Typically, one of the first lessons children learn is the importance of telling the truth. For children who have experienced physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological trauma, this lesson becomes confusing and stressful. Frequently threatened and told to lie, children like me are led further and further away from a core value: the authenticity to speak directly from the soul.

The result is often a spiritual loss so deep that recovery from stress and trauma can feel impossible.

Late one night, during a hospital stay for surgery to remove two feet of my colon, I knew I was dying. It was at that moment that I vowed, if I woke up the next morning, I would teach my body, mind, and spirit how to heal.

 

Accepting What Happened to Me Was Not My Fault
My journey to healing required an emotional reset. I had physically survived the trauma, but my emotional wounds remained. I was always sad, hurt, and angry because of the years of emotional issues and suffering I endured. I wanted a person to blame and hold responsible for my pain. I wanted the individuals responsible for the abuse to apologize, but I learned amends rarely happen.

The healing journey is also complicated by the constant reinforcement of victim-blaming attitudes (by peers, courts, and media) that validate what perpetrators have been saying all along – that the abuse was the victim’s fault. Part of my process involved learning and accepting that abuse is neither the victim’s fault nor their responsibility; the responsibility lies solely with the perpetrator.

For years after being abused as a child and sexually exploited by a therapist, I carried around the feeling that I was at fault for these traumatic events because I was not smart enough to know better. In a new therapy group, I was shocked to learn that none of these traumas were my responsibility.

Learning to Heal
Healing started the moment I took back the ability to speak directly from my soul. I also found many other ways to cope and heal:

  • Understanding and telling my story.
  • Finding the strength to withstand abuse myths and disbeliefs.
  • Creating a healthy support system.
  • Checking in with my medical and mental health professionals.
  • Strengthening my immune system.
  • Believing in an inner, astute truth: I am not to blame for the abuse I experienced.

I continued my healing by writing several books including Never Give Up: Break the Connection Between Stress and Illness, which won a 2018 Living Now Gold Book Award for books that change people’s lives. Additionally, I reported my abuse to the authorities as a way to take my power back.

The Mind-Body Connection
As I have written in my book, I have come to believe that when people think they are responsible for emotional trauma, this false belief disturbs the mind, body, and spirit — potentially weakening their immune system and leading to stress headaches and muscle tension, depression and fatigue.

Sometimes I worry that the self-blame and negative self-talk following my abuse was actually more harmful to me than the abuse itself. As I blamed myself and took responsibility for my abuse, I found myself in hospitals for illness after illness.

As I look back from an emotionally healed place, I have a message to share: It is our birthright to heal from the abuse we did not ask for or want, and to become the physically healthy person we always wanted to be.

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Alexis Acker-Halbur is an award-winning author and an abuse survivor. Now she shares her experiences and tools with women and men who have been traumatized. You can learn more about her work on this website.

 

 

 

 

A New Tool to Help You Heal From Abuse/Trauma

Dear Wellness Seekers:

I’d like to share with you a new tool I’ve created to help you understand and heal from abuse/trauma. All you have to do is click on this link and read the two charts Tools to Help You Heal.

The first chart reflects the negative effects that make you sick. Scroll down to the next chart to find the positive tools to help you heal.

You’ll be amazed to see how abuse/trauma can affect your mind, body, and spirit. Healing from abuse and trauma may seem daunting, but this chart can help you see the negative side of trauma and the positive side of healing.

Abuse and trauma can be healed and you can also begin healing by reading these charts and purchasing my T.R.U.T.H. workbook for just $25.00. (Special  50% discount.) You’ll  find new ways to heal.

T.R.U.T.H. Manual Now Available

T.R.U.T.H. Program — 2nd Edition

NOTE: Due to the coronavirus, T.R.U.T.H. Program groups will not be held until it is safe to gather. In the meantime, if you’d like to purchase this workbook, you can do so by contacting me at alexisackerhalbur@gmail.com. The cost of the manual and information packet is $25.00 plus shipping.

T.R.U.T.H. Program is an 8-week self-study and/or group program designed to help trauma survivors heal from past trauma, and to strengthen your mind, body, and spirit before illness takes hold. Through weeks of guided educational and informational techniques, you will learn how trauma has affected your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. T.R.U.T.H. Program is not therapy but a self-study opportunity to learn more about trauma and how you can resolve issues. T.R.U.T.H. Program is also not affiliated with any religion.

What does T.R.U.T.H. stand for?

The Road to Unresolved Trauma Healing. This program puts you at the center of truth.

What topics does T.R.U.T.H. cover?

Program Introduction
Why the Use of a Mandala
Week One:     Creating a Safe & Healing Environment
Week Two:     How Stress & Trauma Affect Your Health
Week Three:  Facing Our Fears
Week Four:    Healing the Mind
Week Five:     Healing the Body
Week Six:       Healing the Spirit
Week Seven:  Showing Self-Compassion
Week Eight:   Creating Your New Life Plan

What type of activities are included?

T.R.U.T.H. includes group discussions, writing exercises, guided imagery, meditations, questions and answers, trauma facts, pre- and post- self-assessments, and peer support.

Who facilitates T.R.U.T.H. Program

T.R.U.T.H. program is facilitated by Alexis Acker-Halbur and psychologist Johanna Lamm, PsyD.

Get you T.R.U.T.H. workbook today and never give up.

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Alexis Acker-Halbur is an award-winning author and medical miracle. Child abuse made her seriously ill and put her in harm’s way many times. She survived and shares her experiences and tools with women and men who have been traumatized. To order her book, Never Give Up: Break the Connection Between Stress and Illnessclick here, or her newly published fictional novel, THE BEAR: In the Middle of Between click here.

 

 

2020

Dear Wellness Seekers:

I recently wrote this poem to try and find some answers to my anguish. This year has been a disaster and yet I keep plodding on. If you feel the same, I hope this poem helps you understand the stress we all are under. Stay safe and I wish you well.

2020

The winds howled in chaos,
and life as we knew it was gone.
From politics to pandemic,
our hearts rallied to stay strong.

We went through months of anguish,
with our democracy shattered.
We cried and prayed and pushed the alarm,
yet, nothing seemed to matter.

I looked for a sign of hope,
but change appeared to be lost.
My depression grew with flourish,
my beliefs and values tossed.

“Vote” they said would do me good,
so I signed and mailed my ballot.
It felt fierce to express my right,
and cleanse our land of maggots.

I’m tired of the lies and
the evil forced on us each day.
The world laughs at my country,
Should I leave or should I stay?

Autocrats will steal my soul,
and make me think like them.
They will never ever succeed,
we will fight them to the end.

So, rise up America,
we need to take our country back.
Healing from 2020 will take years,
start to believe in truthful facts.

__________________________________

Alexis Acker-Halbur is an award-winning author and medical miracle. Child abuse made her seriously ill and put her in harm’s way many times. She survived and shares her experiences and tools with women and men who have been traumatized. To order her book, Never Give Up: Break the Connection Between Stress and Illnessclick here, or her newly published fictional novel, THE BEAR: In the Middle of Between click here.

Startling Statistics from NO MORE

Hello Wellness Seekers:

I received this email today from an organization called, NO MORE: Together We Can End Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault. If you’re not on their mailing list, I want to make sure you know the startling statistics of rising abuse in our pandemic world.

STOP CHILD AND DOMESTIC ABUSE NOW!

 

Friend,

Today at a special virtual convening, NO MORE proudly joined with the Commonwealth Secretariat to launch a timely new “Commonwealth Says NO MORE” initiative. The effort is aimed at helping the 54 Commonwealth of Nations member countries address and prevent violence against women and girls.

The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have dramatically increased incidents of abuse around the world, with calls to domestic violence helplines rising by up to 300% and abuse-related killings higher than normal. It is now estimated that COVID-19 is likely to cause a one-third reduction in progress towards ending gender-based violence by 2030.

The Commonwealth of Nations makes up nearly one-third of the world’s population. Together—with the Commonwealth Secretariat, the government ministers, high commissioners, business leaders, women’s advocates and celebrities who attended today’s convening and who are lending their voices to the Commonwealth Says NO MORE effort—we can help provide support needed now for victims of abuse and engage billions in efforts to stop domestic and sexual violence once and for all.

Therefore, the new Commonwealth Says NO MORE effort is critical, not only to respond to the immediate crisis but also to create longer-term solutions to prevent domestic and sexual violence. As a vital first step, today we unveiled the first-ever pan-Commonwealth digital portal, which offers countries and civil society organizations easy-to-use tools and resources to boost their efforts in helping victims and those at risk, and educating communities.

The portal also provides victims with access to critical information, including local helplines, shelters, safety guidance, and legal aid—a service particularly important in communities where the pandemic has disrupted such support.

Please, check out the new portal and take the pledge to join us. Thank you very much!

LEARN MORE

Pamela Zaballa
NO MORE Global Executive Director

_____________________________

Alexis Acker-Halbur is an award-winning author and medical miracle. Child abuse made her seriously ill and put her in harm’s way many times. She survived and shares her experiences and tools with women and men who have been traumatized. To order her book, Never Give Up: Break the Connection Between Stress and Illness, click here, or her newly published fictional novel, THE BEAR: In the Middle of Between click here.

Do Something!

Black kitten

I haven’t written a post for quite some time. I admit that this year has me on edge with all the mass shootings, political divide, immigration crisis, and unemployment. Did I miss anything?

Even though I’m an advocate for HOPE, I must say that 2019 has really been a trial for me. Every time news knocks me down, I try to get back up. With the multitude of chaos in our lives, getting up is slower and slower. Do you feel the same?

I refuse to give in to fear. Fear does nothing except cause more fear. Once it begins, it’s like a live fuse already burning toward the end. Can it be stopped?

Yes, but the answer is complex and so many of us want the simple way out. THERE IS NO SIMPLE WAY OUT! We have to go through the flames of fear.

Fear slithers around our bodies, captures our minds, and floods our spirits with darkness. Fear creates stress, stress causes illness, and illness leads to death. How do we stop this dangerous spiral?

We refuse to listen to fear! We find the truth and shed light on the lies. Fear cannot exist when the truth is always told and the light is always on. No one has the power to make us fear – not our bodies and, certainly, not our country!

Stress from Fear Is Like a Three-legged Stool

The healthy connection between the body, mind, and spirit is often pictured as a three-legged stool. If stress takes one leg, the entire stool collapses. The same works for the other legs. Remove one part and your health suffers. Total balance of your body, mind, and spirit results in true healing of fear and stress.

Keep your body, mind, and spirit strong against fear and stress. This way, you’ll understand that fear is fickle and your special connection can release the stress.

How do you handle fear and stress? I would greatly appreciate your answers to this question.

Remember: Never Give Up!