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Jun 29

Episode idea(s)


Hey again Justin and Mercedes! I'd love to hear your ideas on how trauma (including developmental, shock, medical, and/or chemical/toxin traumas) manifests as physical illnesses. Personally, I've been dealing with severe debilitating chronic fatigue for the past 12 years. First I had an emotional shock trauma, which resulted in major digestive issues and pain. And then a few months later, I did a 21 day water only fast at a fasting clinic (long story which seemed like a good idea at the time). After the fast was when the severe fatigue, insomnia, irritability, sensitivity to noises and smells, inability to focus and concentrate, memory issues, hopelessness, helplessness, constant rumination, immune issues, and more, all started. I'd never experienced these symptoms before the combined traumas. I'm sure it didn't help that I was constantly in a state of self condemnation and regret for having done the fast. Also, my body literally shut down - my thyroid, immune system, digestive system, hormonal system, brain, etc. Now I know that this was because I was (and still am) in survival mode - in retrospect, I realize that the fast was a trauma, and I relate it to starvation, in which my body thought it was dying, so it put all its resources into survival. There were days in which I could barely function and even walk. But I also had severe insomnia. Some people with severe CFS are bedbound. I've gotten better in the past 3 or so years, but I'm still not completely out of the woods, and I've been having a lot of setbacks lately. I'm sure you're familiar with the famous ACE study, which correlates childhood trauma to adult disease - cancer, autoimmune, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.

Are you familiar with Irene Lyon's work? Her online course for healing the nervous system and trauma is based on the work of Peter Levine, Kathy Kain, Stephen Porges, and Feldenkrais. Here are some excellent intro videos, if you're interested. It seems like the course is a very comprehensive approach to healing the nervous system. Apparently, many practitioners take her course too.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on trauma manifesting as physical conditions. Thank you!


I think this a good idea - physical manifestations of trauma. I’d definitely have to do more research before discussing on the podcast, but I know Justin has a better grasp on this than I do. Haven’t heard of Irene Lyons but thanks for the info. 👍🏼 Have you read “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk? It’s basically about how our bodies hold trauma physically. I highly recommend it. Thanks for the idea!

Jun 30

I've had Bessel's book for a while now and have been meaning to read it - I'll get to it soon! :-) Gabor Mate also writes about physical manifestations of trauma.

Hi again! I’m familiar with Irene Lyon, I’ve watched a number of her videos in the past. And ACEs of course. That’s a massive question and well out of my scope of competency. As therapists, we need to stay within the bounds of our training, schooling and license. So the specifics of ACEs and how we get there I simply don’t know about. I hardly touch upon the somatic problems that arise in my content because I simply don’t know enough about them and it’s out of my scope as a therapist imo. That doesn’t mean I can’t interview someone with more expertise though. At some point I’d like to do that, but not yet.

I don’t know. I’m questioning my answer lol. I definitely can’t answer the HOW of it... but we could touch upon the WHAT. Like what is associated with trauma and state changes and whatnot. I still don’t have enough knowledge to comment with any level of confidence though.

I don’t think we could say officially in medical terms exactly what’s happening, but from a polyvagal perspective we could talk about the types of problems one could expect, can’t we? Like how trauma/emotions could be felt in the body based on PVT?

On an emotional level, absolutely. But I wouldn’t go into the actual mechanisms of action of how someone then gets an autoimmune disorder. But recognizing there’s a connection there, sure.

Jun 30

I feel like trauma is such a big subject and I'm soooo thankful that people are talking about it now. I don't know if we could have had these conversations in my parents generation.

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Do you think you could touch on the role of mixed states in trauma reprocessing/grief?


Can you explain a bit more? When you say “mixed states,” I’m thinking of Freeze, Play and Stillness.

Jul 28

Do you mean being in dorsal vagal and sympathetic at the same time? That's how I feel sometimes. And, sometimes I feel like I'm in both ventral and dorsal vagal simultaneously - I'm often very social and have a lot of fun doing it, but sometimes, at the same time I feel super fatigued.

@Justin Sunseri In all of the top-down trauma processing I had, using different techniques, they say that to give the brain a chance to process we need to tap into some sympathetic arousal, while trying to keep the connection to the T. Like safe&social and sympathetic arousal in a mixed state. often it is more like a very careful back and forth in tiny steps to keep the balance (especially EMDR)

In a different technique that is more gentle sympathetic arousal is created with a breathing exercise while they try to hold the patient grounded in safe&social. I am not sure why this is necessary and what it does as part of the top-down reprocessing.


I also notice that when I share traumatic memories I tend to show most physical signs of shutting down severely, but the T helps to keep safe&social active and so it feels more like deep grief than actually shutting down into dissociation. that too seems to help to process the memory. it feels distinctly different from dissociation cause it's kind of warm, not cold or lonely and introduces as sense of comfort.


I keep running into places where bottom up and top down processes meet and I am curious how they fit together

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