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I Nearly Lost My Life Because I Couldn’t Accept the Truth


awakened mom life trauma healing (1)

*Trigger Warning: mentions of suicidal thoughts, trauma, death, and abuse.

Navigating the challenges of complex trauma as an adult can be daunting, especially when trying to identify the core sources of your pain. It’s not just about acknowledging your emotions; it’s about unraveling the complex ways in which past experiences have shaped your present self. Healing from childhood trauma is a complex journey that cannot be easily categorized like a simple checklist. While tools like the ACE quiz can offer valuable insights, they are not exhaustive and cannot capture the full spectrum of your experiences.

Here is my journey and I hope it provides perspective for your own.

For years, I told everyone, “I’m fine!”

Even after a decade of talk therapy, I am still deeply depressed and anxious. I felt lost, and I was deeply suffering.

“I’m fine.”

I didn’t know any different. Deep suffering was my norm.

The Breaking Point

When I had to move back home to Ohio from Hawaii, it pushed me to my breaking point. I had pursued my dream of living in Maui, Hawaii, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out as I had hoped. The thought of returning to my hometown, with all its chaos and pain, was something I didn’t want to face. At the time, I thought I was coping “just fine,” yet my body would tell a different story.

Deep down I knew I didn’t want to come back to Ohio because…

This is where I lost my fiancé and watched him take his last breaths…

This is where I lost my best friend when she tragically passed in a car accident…

This is where I felt like an outcast my entire life…

This is where I was bullied by my family…

This is where I have always felt unworthy of even taking up space…

This is where I’m constantly reminded of the pain of my life….

I wasn’t initially able to put all of this into words; it was just a lot of very heavy emotions. As much as I tried to be “just fine,” I wasn’t.

It kept getting worse, way worse

Shortly after returning from Hawaii, I began experiencing distressing physical symptoms. Including numbness in my feet, legs, and hands, which eventually progressed to tremors, stuttering, aphasia, and non-epileptic seizures. These issues were on top of the chronic pain I had already been coping with, including Endometriosis, Hashimotos Thyroiditis, Fibromyalgia, IBS, sleep apnea, and herniated discs in my neck and lower back. 

My body literally felt like it was quitting on me. At the age of 38, I felt 90.

This is what complex trauma does to your body, and I didn’t yet understand.

Emotions live in your body, so no matter how much I wanted to say, “I was fine.” My body knew the truth and was storing all those suppressed emotions. After a year of chasing for an answer, I finally reached the Cleveland Clinic, where I received a diagnosis. 

Multiple doctors disregarded my symptoms and dismissed my concerns, attributing everything to anxiety.

It was becoming more and more frustrating because doctors kept saying it was anxiety, when I knew it wasn’t. I’ve spent years working on my anxiety and I knew that this was something different. Unfortunately, if you’ve ever been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, doctors tend to default to those diagnoses for anything outside their expertise.

**Side note: Never let a doctor gaslight you into believing your condition doesn’t deserve an answer or further investigation. Trust your gut and pursue the health care you deserve. Doctors ARE NOT all-knowing. They make mistakes and are human. Just because a doctor thinks, “It’s in your head,” doesn’t make it true. 

Losing my independence and my ability to walk

As my symptoms progressed I was losing my independence because I was losing my ability to walk. My life was slipping away, and I felt helpless to do anything. I became more suicidal than I ever had before. I had no answers and at that time, no hope of healing.

When I met Dr. Yu at the Cleveland Clinic, she embraced me with empathy and compassion unlike anything I’ve ever experienced… maybe ever from another human being. She asked if I had experienced any recent trauma in life. I said, “Of course not.” We had just returned from Hawaii, but everything else was “just fine besides my physical deterioration.”

She explained that my condition was known as Functional Neurological Disorder. Functional neurological disorder (FND), in simple terms, occurs when the brain stops effectively sending and receiving information to the rest of the body. Think of your brain as a computer, and in someone with FND, there’s no damage to the hardware but a glitch in the software.

What is FND?

Doctors are still learning about FND, but at the core, we know that FND happens when there’s a problem with how the brain sends and receives messages to itself and other parts of the body. And we know this because scientists can see that certain circuits in the brain are not working properly in people with FND.

Doctors don’t have a clear answer for what causes FND. Yet, they do see a few commonalities in patients. Here are several reasons why doctors theorize the brain stops working properly in people with FND, including:

  • the brain trying to get rid of a painful sensation (chronic pain)
  • a migraine or other neurological symptom
  • the brain shutting down a part or all of the body in response to a situation it thinks is threatening
  • stressful events in the past or present (not always, though)

What does FND have to do with childhood trauma?

It took over a decade of a healing journey to finally have a single doctor bring up to me how emotions affect your brain and body. This still absolutely blows my mind. Ten years, and no one else said a word about how years of psychological distress impacted me physically. I believe that most of my physical pain and health issues were preventable.

When Dr. Yu first asked about my experience with trauma, I assured her I was one of the people with this diagnosis who didn’t experience any (which can happen).

Yet, I knew it was best to keep exploring healing modalities to get better. That meant exploring trauma healing and seeing if I might have some unresolved trauma that could be impacting my daily life.

Since being treated at the Cleveland Clinic, I’ve delved further into how my childhood has impacted every single aspect of my life. And I mean this in the most literal sense. No part of my life has gone unscathed: relationships, sex, career, money, mental, emotional, and physical health. When I started to find trauma-informed medical treatment, I began to peel back to complex layers of pain.

That’s when it hit me like a hammer to the head. My childhood trauma was physically, mentally, and emotionally killing me. 

I was in severe denial.

Others had it worse than me, I thought…

I don’t have anything to be sad about…

Denying it was leading me down this path of early death. As long as I denied how my childhood affected me, I wasn’t healing. The emotional pain was taking a toll, and my physical body was slowly deteriorating because of it. I could no longer ignore the signs. I couldn’t fucking walk (and sometimes talk) anymore!

Traumatic stress (like that from childhood trauma and childhood neglect) can lead to changes in your brain and body. It can lead to a whole slew of chronic conditions and autoimmune diseases…….. like all the ones I’ve been struggling with.

Since coming to terms with the pain of my childhood, I made the very difficult decision to stop contact with most of my family. Ultimately, realized that I couldn’t heal when surrounded with the same pain and abuse that caused the issues in the first place. It gave me the emotional and mental space to finally begin a true healing journey.

I realized that my family situation was toxic. It helped me understand why I always felt afraid, anxious, and judged. It was as if I was walking on eggshells, waiting for the next time someone would explode at me for something I did wrong. As time went on, I realized that these experiences from my childhood had become a part of me. I thought it was my responsibility to take care of everyone else’s needs, even if it meant neglecting my own.

I have finally got to the point in my life where I realize I do matter. My feelings matter, and my pain matters. 

A few key lessons I’ve learned about coping with abusers as a cycle breaker:

The victim talks about the abuse. The abuser talks about the victim. 

You are responsible for YOURSELF and responsible TO others. (Read that again. You are NOT responsible FOR others.) We each are accountable for our own actions. 

Setting boundaries is a good thing. If they can’t accept your boundaries, you won’t be able to heal with them in your life.

You can’t heal in an environment where the pain is actively happening. 

Can you heal from CPTSD?

Complex trauma (CPTSD) can be very challenging to heal from and even more difficult to find the right help. That’s why I started to share my story. I hope others see this and find hope. I hope that you can recover from your pain and know that you do actually deserve better.

While it has been nearly 15 years since I started on my personal growth journey, I know I still have a lot of work to do. One thing I know for sure is that I can’t even recognize the person I was years ago. I am proud of my strength, resistance, and tenacity.

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