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.

 

 

 

 

Keep Speaking the Truth

Dear Wellness Seekers:

I received this picture and saying from a woman I greatly admire. In fact, this photo and saying are so touching that I wanted to share it with everyone I know. It has a very personal effect on me since some of my siblings have disowned me for speaking publicly about my childhood abuse. I am the only one in our family who admits that my father was the abuser, despite knowing some of my siblings were abused, too. (But that’s their story to tell. I can only write about my story.)

Telling the truth about an issue so despicable is never easy. After I survived Stage IV colon cancer, I finally learned that if I didn’t tell my personal story I was going to die. Sounds dramatic, but it’s the truth. What I learned was I had stuffed all my life’s trauma into my body, mind, and spirit, and the trauma dove deep inside my muscles, cells, organs, and bones. I could never understand why I had so many health conditions, that is until I was diagnosed with cancer – 3 times. In my research to find how I could survive a 6 percent chance of survival, I began to research and pray to keep living. My book, Never Give Up: Break the Connection Between Stress and Illness, helped me realize that I had the power to heal myself. (You can view this book on this website.)

Many of my siblings refused to believe and were angry that telling my story was a healing journey. They, in fact, thought I was seeking attention. They knew I’d been abused, but felt the truth should be hidden. Hiding that truth made me deathly ill. I struggled with telling the truth until cancer became a wake-up call for me. Now I believe that the siblings who disowned me are not liars but are living a lie. I never thought they would act against me.

My world has not come to an end and many of my cancers have come and gone making me extremely grateful. That is why I chose to tell the truth.

You can, too!

__________________________________________

Alexis Acker-Halbur is an award-winning author and medical miracle. Child abuse made her seriously ill and put her in harm’s way numerous times. She survived and now shares her experiences and tools with women and men who have been traumatized. To order her tools for healing trauma book, Never Give Up: Break the Connection Between Stress and Illness, click here. If you would like to read her 2020 published fictional novel, THE BEAR: In the Middle of Between click here.

A Letter to Republicans

Dear Republican Senate, House, and Governors:

You all killing me, literally! In fact, your killing hundreds and thousands of people – many of whom elected you. Your response to COVID-19 has devastated all of us living in the U.S. You do nothing to stem the flow of this pandemic and treat it like a flu. It’s not a flu, it’s a deadly virus causing suffering and grief for us all, and you do nothing to help us.

You are a disgrace to our democracy!

I know your inactive response is due to your fear of the biggest bully of our time. You’re afraid to stand up against Trump because you fear he’ll bash you on Twitter. You should be more concerned that the people who voted for you are dead or dying. How are you going to pay back all the deaths and grief you have caused against humanity?

You are hiding behind lies and misinformation. Your disregard for the citizens of our nation is appalling. And all the while you think you are doing the right thing for us. Don’t fool yourselves, you are all failures led by a president who only loves himself. What about “We the people…” and your loyalty and commitment to keep this nation safe?

You are traitors!

I know this blog post won’t change your scandalous reign. You’ll continue to foster conspiracies about voter fraud. Trump lost the election period. There is no sign of corrupt voting, there is only signs of your unwillingness to confront a malicious president. Are you working for him or us?

History will prove how inept you are. The great divide of the U.S. is your doing. You will be remembered at creating a dictator like Putin, Stalin, and Mussolini. No history won’t look kindly on you. The truth will emerge and you will be seen as too weak to confront a monster. Future generations will see what you did and how you manipulated our Constitution.

Stalling the transition to the president-elect team is the same as Putin making himself the ruler of Russia this year. I wonder how you sleep at night. Trump is a bully and he has made bullies out of all of you. Is this how you want to be remembered?

Your legacies will be fraught with lies, cover-ups, and heinous acts.

I have faith that you all will be replaced with kinder, gentler souls who care about us and our future. I have lost faith in you and will never ever vote for the repugnant Republican party.

This past election I voted for balance, harmony, and grace. All the things you are not!

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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.

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.

__________________________________

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.

 

 

Time’s Up!

Time’s Up!

The recent plea for Oprah Winfrey to run for president in 2020 is an insightful look into how we, as Americans, are so hungry for a president who can communicate clearly and without blame or shame. Someone who will raise us up in difficult times and voice our current state of dismay. Oprah’s words at the Golden Globes last Sunday night were more than inspiring — they need to be shared across our country. We NEED to hear that “Time’s Up” on sexual assault and harassment. No more secrecy, let’s bring those who prey on women, girls, and boys to justice!

But it takes more than words to eliminate the crimes of powerful people. It takes a movement where we join our hands together in solidarity and shout out that it’s not okay to hurt others. It’s time for us to vote for politicians who are outraged by the disarray of our country. Politicians who believe in women’s stories and a justice system who punishes criminals and not victims. The #metoo movement has started but we need to keep it going. We need to be LOUD to make our voices heard. And we must stop electing politicians who have dark and evil private lives.

I HATE listening to the news, I HATE reading the newspaper, and I HATE watching TV where women are called “ineffective,” “liars,” and “whores.” It’s time for men to stop hating women for the gifts we bring to our country and our world. Name calling and sexual harassment are not ways to achieve respect and dignity. They are only ways to lose it.

I say this to power-hungry men: you don’t own me, you can’t tell me how to dress or how to act, you can’t say I must be silent, you can’t touch my body anytime you want, you have no control over my life, you have no right to spit in my face, you have no authority to tell me who I can marry, and, most of all, YOU ARE NOT GOD!

I just had to say this because “it’s time!”

Never, ever give up.

Alexis Acker-Halbur