The Effects Of Childhood Sexual Abuse On My Health

As part of my overall health I’ve been putting a lot of focus on my mental health. During this journey I have been learning so much about myself. One thing I’ve learned is just how much being sexually abused as a child has affected my mental and physical health. I believe writing about this is not only good for raising awareness and reaching others but for my healing also.

Almost a month ago now I wrote about how I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. As a result of that extremely traumatic event I developed PTSD. That has affected every aspect of my life. For this post I want to focus on how it has affected my physical health. This is only one area where I’ve been affected. I plan on writing about every part of my life that has been affected.

After the abuse started the PTSD was quick to follow. At a young age I started having a lot of anxiety and panic attacks. I also started being in a constant fight or flight state. After the abuse ended not only did these continue but they got worse. Even simple decisions became harder and harder to make. I often got migraines that didn’t stop after getting glasses and remember wanting to sleep a lot. I tried to be healthy as a teenager but the effects of what happened kept bringing me down.

After I got married and was put into a new environment the anxiety and fight or flight grew even more. Because my mental state was already suffering from the effects of the abuse I couldn’t handle the new psychological abuse that entered my life. The worse things got the harder it became to talk to my husband about what was going on. Which caused many problems I will discuss another time. Because of the psychological abuse I went through a lot of deep depression. After a while there was space put between me and my psychological abuser so I tried acting like a normal person again. But that was easier said than done.

Once I started having kids I started to slowly break. Because of what I went through all the added stress I now had was becoming overwhelming. My health was being affected even more. After my daughter was born I started having flashbacks of the abuse everyday. That constant pain and stress broke me. I was so overwhelmed that I could hardly function. I felt like my body was slowly giving out on me. I started stress eating, put on a lot of weight and didn’t have the mental or physical energy to take care of myself. My social anxiety became worse and I could hardly leave the house. Even after seeing my family doctor and a naturopathic doctor I wasn’t seeing a lot of improvement. I’ve been trying for almost a year now to get my health back and not much has changed. If anything my stress has been worse since I started opening up about all of this. Even something simple like cleaning causes me enormous amounts of stress. I just can’t focus anymore and feel like I’m drowning.

Dealing with all of the emotional and mental stress over the years has brought me to where I am now. I’m exhausted all of the time and the smallest trigger can cause me to have panic attacks. I heard somewhere that easy exercise is better for me right now because my body and mind is so exhausted. So for now I’m just trying to manage my weight, do simpler exercises and focus on my mental health. Though I only had the funds to go to a few sessions with my psychologist it really helped open my eyes to stuff and I have a better understanding of what I have to do to heal. I know the road is going to be long and hard but I really want to do this right.

If anyone reading this has been or is currently a victim of sexual abuse just know you’re not alone. The effects of abuse affect everyone differently so don’t think you’re alone in this or how you feel is crazy. You’re so strong to have made it to wherever you are in life right now. I hope that by opening up about how I’ve been affected I can reach others and give them some hope on their journey. No one should ever feel alone.

My Story 

I’ve been working on this post for almost two weeks now. It is maybe the hardest and most revealing thing I may ever write. This is something that I thought I would take to the grave and I would suffer alone for the rest of my life

But……..a few years ago a brave woman I knew as a kid stepped forward about being abused and her abuser was held accountable. After that something was triggered in me and everything hit me full force. I tried for two years to push it back down and forget but it was useless. My health was failing and I was being tormented every single day.

When I was a child I was the victim of sexual abuse. Someone my family thought they could trust started molesting me. Everyone is affected differently by abuse and unfortunately for me it caused PTSD. I have been unknowingly been suffering from PTSD for about 16 years now. Last year I got to the point where my health was at it’s worst, I was having panic attacks and anxiety on a daily basis. I knew I couldn’t let this control my life any longer so I started seeing a psychologist. 

The diagnosis of PTSD and validation of everything I’ve been through gave me that little spark to relight my fire. I was finally able to start opening up and letting people know about what happened to me. By doing that I also found out there are several other victims, which truly broke my heart. Even though it was helpful to connect it made me sick knowing others went through what I did. Learning about these other victims though just fueled my fire to speak about my experience in hopes of giving other victims that spark to relight their fire.

I will discuss the effects of the abuse in other post but in this one I want to end with encouragement. 

To anyone that has been abused in any way you are not alone. Abusers choose to abuse. You hold no blame in ANYTHING that happened to you and you should feel no shame. You are a survivor and a warrior. You have the strength to stand up and speak out. You don’t have to suffer alone. There is hope for tomorrow and hope for healing. The journey may be long and hard but you will get there.

My journey started because of the bravery of one person. My hope and prayer is that by telling my story the bravery will be passed to others so that those without a voice will finally be able to speak. 

Setbacks and Progress

Since my last update I’ve had several setbacks, which is why this took so long. Just when I started seeing progress and thought I had a handle on things my kids got sick and then I got sick. The next week we got another cold snap with a large amount of snow which made walks out of the question.

After March break I started getting things back on track and then my daughter started waking up every couple hours at night which pretty much made me a zombie for a while. Once she started sleeping better again I started feeling better again, I was getting back on track and even followed an exercise routine for three days before my kids got sick again. Then I got a pretty nasty cold, thanks kids. I just started feeling better yesterday so I’m trying to get caught uo on all my cleaning and start exercising again.

Now onto the progress. Since upping my protein I’ve noticed some difference. I no longer have the constant brain fog I used to have which has been amazing. Seriously never take being able to think straight for granted because it wrecks all kinds of havoc when you can’t.  I’ve been waking up feeling more refreshed with more of a go getter attitude. I’ve been able to go out during the day and not come home needing a nap or feeling sick. I’ve been able to do more stuff with the kids. Which is probably the biggest blessing. It was so hard wanting to do stuff with them but not being able to. We had a lot of fun together over march break playing in the snow, building a fort and going shopping. Which is stuff I normally wouldn’t feel up to doing before either mentally or physically. 

I’m still having a little trouble eating enough protein during the day so I’ve started adding 1/4c cottage cheese to my eggs and have been making paleo breakfast bars to snack on. https://elanaspantry.com/breakfast-bars/. I’m sharing this recipe because it’s that good. 

I’m praying no gets sick again for a while and my kids continue good sleep habits so I continue feeling this well. And honestly I haven’t felt this much like myself in probably 6 years if not longer. Which is very exciting. I know I still have a long way to go with everything, especially the anxiety, but my faith is stronger than ever.

Sometimes I Forget I Can Pray

Sometimes I forget I can pray. I forget I’ll be heard.

I hear at church God loves us all.We are all precious to him. He sent his son to die for us. And it all sounds so good.

Then I go home. I open my door. I see toys and crumbs on the floor. Dishes piled in the sink. Clutter on the counters and I hear that whisper in my ear. You’re a stay at home mom. You have one job. What good are you if you can’t even keep your house clean. You’re lazy. You’re not a good mother. And I’m reminded of all the awful things people think about me and the things they’ve said about me.

I try to fight it but the whisper gets louder, the days are hard and I start to believe it. I’m not perfect and not a good enough Christian. I’m nothing, no one. What do I have to offer. No one cares about what I have to say.My words are pointless. I’m not a writer so I should just quit. I’m just a screw up that can’t do anything right. I’m a trouble maker, a rebel. 

I’m weak and tired from all life has thrown my way. I start to believe my life is just destined to be a tragedy. I get to such a low point and I feel so worthless. Like I’ll never get anything right. Everything just piles up and I can’t breathe. My hope is nearly gone and I’m fighting not to give up or give in. I get so desperate and say I can’t take it anymore.

A few nights ago I was in a lot of physical pain. A pain I have been dealing with for 3 months and a bit. I couldn’t even fall asleep. So out of desperation I prayed. And the pain stopped. And it hasn’t come back, except for a slight pain when the area is aggrivated. Through this I’ve been reminded that I am heard. That I am allowed to pray. That it’s ok not to suffer even when I feel like I deserve it. That God will, one way or another, answer even my prayers. I still hear the shouts of all my failures and all the awful things people have said. But now I remember I can pray and I try to worship louder than the shouting in my ear.

Answers?

According to my doctor all of my test results are normal  and she hasn’t requested I follow up with her. Well that’s not good enough for me. I may feel like a hypochondriac sometimes but I know I’m not one. Something is going on and I’m going to find out what.

I decided to look into creatinine even though my doctor isn’t concerned. Below normal levels of creatinine can be caused by stress or a diet low in protein. I have plenty of stress and looking back I realized up until a few weeks ago I had a diet very low in protein.I looked up how much pretein I should be getting a day and realized I’m probably only eat 1/3 to 1/2 of what I should be eating. I then looked up the side affects of not getting enough protein in my diet and it matched every single symptom I’ve been having. 

I’m not a doctor so I won’t be diagnosing myself but if all that’s wrong is I need more protein then that’s exciting. I’ll see my doctor again during my daughter’s check up so I’ll mention it and see what she says. I’m feeling very encouraged knowing all of stuff that has been wrong with me could be resolved to some extent just by increasing my protein. 

I’m now going to make an effort to add more protein to my daily diet. The eggs, veggies and english muffin with almond butter is actually a great start and I’m glad I already made that change. I bought some protein bars, am figuring out some higher protein snack and planning to eat more protein for supper. Because of my research with the protein and looking up info on my husband’s macros diet I’ve also realized I’m probably not eating enough in general and not drinking enough water. There’s days where I’m so busy I’ll only eat one meal a day, have a snack and go half the day before  realizing I’ve had nothing to drink besides coffee. Also while trying to keep the grocery bill low I tended to eat only small portions of meat and veggies which apparently wasn’t such a great plan after all.

With my new found knowledge I’ll start making more changes to my diet and food habits. Right now I’m not concerned about losing weight or exercising as much as I am about my diet. Hopefully with the changes I’m making I will start feeling better and having the energy I need to turn my focus back to my weight and fitness. With the weather warming up though I’ll be able to stick to the extra walking I’ve been doing. Hopefully in a week or two I’ll be able to see some real change in my health and be able to share it.

Getting started

Now it’s time to get things started.

Until I have an idea of what’s going on with my health and a plan to fix it I’ll slowly start easing myself into a fitness routine and healthier lifestyle.

I started a few weeks ago by eating a 2 egg and veggie omelette with an English muffin topped with homemade almond butter and honey instead of bagels or muffins. I also have 1 tsp honey and 1 tos apple cider vinegar with a cup of warm water first thing in the morning. The apple cider vinegar drink has already made a huge difference with the bloating. I no longer look 6 months pregnant. My stomach may still be bigger than I’d like but at least it’s not longer round. Without the bloating my waist is a full inch smaller. Just that small improvement is encouraging.

I’m keeping up again with the vitamins and supplements advised by my naturopothic doctor and my thyroid medication. I’ve increased my walking time every weekday by about 20min. There’s a nice walking path close by I use after dropping my son off at school.

I’m also working on  getting my house organized so cleaning will be faster and I’ll have more time to focus on myself. Once I don’t have to stay up so late cleaning I’ll be able to go to bed earlier which I’m sure will help. Right now I get between 4-6 hours of  interrupted sleep.

It’s been a few days since I contacted my family doctor to see if she’s seen my test results. I have access to my blood work results and saw my creatinine levels are below normal so I’m waiting to see what she says about that. I also had an internal and external ultrasound to check things out since I’ve been having problems with my hormones and irregular cycles. Hopefully I’ll know the results soon.

I’m also trying to focus on my stress and anxiety so I’ve been taking  a simple detox bath every other or every two nights. I use a body brush and brush my body starting at my feet and working my way to my heart. What I’ve read is that helps with circulation and opening your pores to release toxins. After that I soak for 20min in the detox bath containing hot water, 1 cup Epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda and 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Even if the detox part doesn’t work it leaves me feeling very relaxed.


Some of my future goals include eating more of a paleo and clean eating diet. Specifically cutting down on bread and sugar. I think dairy affects me.me . so I want to cut down on that also.

Over the next few weeks I will be working even more on decluttering and organizing the house. I just finished a 14 day declutter challenge and have a pile of stuff to get rid of already. Once I have to spend less time on my cleaning I can put more focus on my family, health and mental state.ive gone far too long not being able to do things out enjoy because cleaning had taken over my life.

Hopefully these small changes will start to help and I’ll get the answers I need soon. I’m tired of everyday being a struggle and not getting to live the life I want to live. I’m ready to be the fun mom again that has the energy to go to the park more often, not need to rest after doing 5 minutes of cleaning and be able to think more clearly. I’m ready to be me again.

Before I Get Started 

Hi everyone,

So I was trying to wait until all of my health issues were figured out before writing, who knows when that will be though.

At a young age I became very interested in my health and natural living. I was able to stay in shape and eat fairly well for many years. Even after my son was born I was following the paleo diet, taking a vitamin drink and exercising.

Then things in life started happening. I was no longer able to eat paleo foods, I didn’t have as much time to exercise and I started stress eating, a lot.

That continued for a couple years and then I got pregnant again. I developed hypothyroidism with my pregnancy but it didn’t go away after my daughter was born like it did with my son. I didn’t realize that until my daughter was a year old though. So during the time I had undiagnosed hypothyroidism things got even worse. After my daughter was born I could steadily feel my health going downhill. So a year after my daughter was born I started looking for answers.

As of now I’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism from my family doctor and adrenal fatigue from my naturopothic doctor. I had to see my family doctor twice within a 6 month period and request blood work before getting my hypothyroidism diagnosis. I decided to see my naturopothic doctor because I was only feeling slightly better and still felt awful all of the time. My family doctor couldn’t really give me any answers as to why I was still feeling so fatigued all of the time, had started having painful bloating and just didn’t feel normal.

When I saw my naturopothic doctor she immediately said my symptoms sounded like I had adrenal fatigue and started up a plan for me including vitamins, supplements, how to manage my stress and some lifestyle changes to try. Within a couple of weeks I started feeling better. A couple of months later though when my son got really sick for a couple of weeks I had to put my health on the back burner again.

Along with the symptoms I mentioned earlier I’ve also started having inflammation in various areas of my body which have caused other problems such as sciatica. I’ve also started having sharp pains in my stomach that will spread up into my back or sometimes just my upper back will get the pains. I feel weak, lightheaded, irratable, have brain fog, trouble falling asleep and have been having irregular cycles.

Most recently I went to see my family doctor about my hormones and the stomach pain. I’m waiting to hear back from her about the results from my tests. I’m hoping if the results are normal my symptoms won’t just get brushed aside again. If so off to the naturopothic doctors again.

As you can imagine all of that combined makes doing daily activities and taking care of my family  that much more difficult. I know I don’t have it as bad as a lot of people but it’s enough to make my days extra challenging. Right now my biggest struggle is not enough time in a day. By the time everyone else’s needs are taken care of and the cleaning has been done I have virtually no time for myself. To make things extra fun I also deal with anxiety and panic attacks brought on by certain situations. Most days I feel like I’m drowning and that I’ll never be able to keep up with life’s demands. Just waking up can leave me feeling discouraged if I’m not feeling well that day. Discouraged because I know how difficult it will be to get everything that needs to be done accomplished. Knowing everything may not get done that needs to be will cause me to have a lot of anxiety which in return makes some of my other symptoms worse. When I have a lot of anxiety I stress eat which does nothing to help my weight or health.

So that’s how I got to where I am and some of the things I’m struggling with right now. In my future posts I’ll explain changes I’ve made, future goals and updates on my fitness and health. As things really get going I’ll share some recipes and exercises I enjoy.

I hate sharing these pictures because this isn’t who I am but this is me at my worst so it needs to be seen.

These were taken before I made any changes and when my bloating was at its worst.  As you can see in the pictures my stomach is very round. Some morning I would wake up like this and some days it would be after breakfast.

Weight 159.6

Waist 37 1/2″

Stomach 41″

Hips 38″

Bra size 38 H (fits snug)

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