The Body Pays The Price

Woman at beachLeonie was very tired. Her shoulders have dropped and her head had fallen forward resting on her chest. Unable to muster the strength needed for balancing her head upright on her fatigued body, Leonie feels the floor opening and becoming a vortex inviting her into the never ending downwards spiral.  She hears a seductive whisper beckoning her to succumb, “Let go, let go. You have fought long enough. You can rest now!”


Her therapist’s voice pulls her back into the room “You look very tired”.

“Am I tired? Leonie wonders before she responds “I am, I had enough. I have done many, many years of therapy. When I finished 4 years ago, I finally had reached the point of being ready to look forward. You know, I wanted to enjoy life. Having been afraid of most things most of my life, I was looking forward to do all the things ‘normal’ people would do, without feeling shackled by the past and the abuse.  I started to make plans where and how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I started to do things, started to make up for all the years of being afraid and looking over my shoulder. I was determined to make the most of every day now. And then this happens. I am devastated”.

Leonie has experienced over the last few months problems with her memory. Sometimes she found herself wandering around in her neighbourhood, not knowing where she was, not knowing how to get home. She has times when she does not recognise people, even if they are neighbours of many years. Once she didn’t recognise her therapist. After a while she agreed with her doctor that she has to accept a caretaker coming every day to look after her.

She gets confused and scared, feeling out of control, feeling unsafe. Not only that, lately she is struggling withher balance and often falls down, hurting herself. Her doctor has sent her to have tests done, but the professionals are not sure what the problem is. They think it is some form of dementia or Alzheimers, but they’ve told her “You are not quite fitting the picture, you are much too young for these problems to occur”.

“You know, it reminds me very much at how it was when I was a child: completely out of control and not being able to do something about my situation. I feel like giving up”.

“What do you think, are the doctors on the right track and are you experiencing a pre-mature aging problem or is it dissociation? Is it that your parts have been triggered and are active again? It sounds very much like the experiences you had when you were dissociating and some part would take the body somewhere without others knowing about it”.

Leonie gave a lot of thought to her therapist’s comment. Having lived for more than 50 years with multiple personalities, she knew the feeling in her body evoked by parts going about their daily ‘duties’. With some discomfort she remembered the feeling of fading out and sliding into a space she never was quite able to describe to her therapist. How can you describe the nothingness that was both frightening and comforting at the same time; that was both light and dark? No, what is happening to her now was not the so familiar switching of parts. She knew she has arrived in very unfamiliar territory.

Leonie shook her head “I believe that the damage abuse causes the child comes out in a physical way when you get older. That’s my gut feeling anyway. In the 50 odd years of my life, my body had more stress than others have in a life time. So you can say my body lived a normal life time and is giving up now. Like the candle that burns down quicker when unprotected from the wind”.

Leonie’s journey is not finished yet. Whether her theory of the body=candle is right, we don’t know yet. It will all be revealed in the future. What we do know is that chronic stress leads to a raft of physical health problems. Excess production of stress hormones changes the body's functioning in many ways causing problems such as anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, infertility, hair falling out, acne breaking out, and increase in inflammations and central nervous system infections. Knowing this, Leonie’s explanation does not seem to be so far fetched.

10 thoughts on “The Body Pays The Price

  1. sophie says:

    Jae thank you for your words of encouragement and the HOPE that you give me. aFTER i wrote on here – put it in writing miraculously all the pain, turmoil in my stomach vanished. the wonders of articulating – ok writing down our fears. Like you i rue having to go to the doctors because i feel he puts me in the ‘mental/emotional’ basket. (yet he seems genuinely kind – if not slightly uneducated about the effects of abuse/ptsd … )
    Looking back there was so many times when i probably was reacting to something from my past/a trigger and i visited him – searching for a medical cause – he always was most patient – yet it is now that i know about mind/body connection i find it hard to go.
    I suppose i like concrete evidence myself – wasnt concerned today going to the specialist getting a steriod injection in my knee – just waiting for ACC to stop paying for this treatment!!!
    I love your take on life – obviously you have been thru a lot and your words are like little gems in the sea of uncertainity. Hope you are in a wonderfully, peaceful place.

  2. jae says:

    Hi Jess, Body memories are very real and can present in many ways. I have had the same experience and still find it very hard to visit the hospital because of past experiences of illnesses that have no solid diagnosis, my file looks like a large journal with the tittle Mentally unstable.
    Putting that aside, the good thing is that it has stopped a part from occations, It means to me that I need to just recognise what is going on for me. I have burns appear on my knees still when a part of me is feeling the pain of yesterday, they hurt and are very real but I know what they are. The key is, to learn and work through as much as you can with emotions and memories and care for yourself as you would a child that is hurting. Its the care of these parts that need to learn that they are safe and the abuse isnt happening anymore and they are protected and loved and cared for by you.
    They held the times you couldnt and now they can let them go, this is what your body felt.
    To let go of the anger is like taking your first breath its scarey to meet it but it is a wonderful emotion. You will only deal with what you can handle at any one time. The body is an expert at that. Go well Jae

  3. jess says:

    Has anyone else been told they are holding anger in and it is manifesting in tremendous back pain. My Bodyworks practitioner tried to explore this issue with me – i didnt want to go there – yet i can understand the mind /body connection. Looking back i have always appeared to have a lot of unexplained symptoms of things that im a bit tentative to go to the doctors – thinking he think its all in my head. at 11 after a particularly bad episode of abuse – I did end up in hospital and was Operated on – i just couldnt tell them what really had happen and the pains in my stomach did feel real – now i can name them as huge stress/shock . as an 11 year old i couldnt get the words out . Now i feel since i told my doctor about this – he wont believe me. Anyone else felt this?

  4. SnS says:

    I would like to follow that up more to, I am going to go to my GP and also get a referral to a psychatrist so I can seriously start comming off my meds I NEED TO BE HEARD I will also email a psycholigist in England who is very against medication and is currently looking into this. The hard thing is , is to distingush what is a temporary side affect of healing and what is a result of medication.

  5. Gudrun Frerichs, PhD says:

    Hi sns,
    that sounds like very important information people need to hear much more about it. Has there any research or writing been done about this topic? I would love to follow that up.
     

  6. sns says:

    I feel kind of stunned at the moment, I was sitting with a group of people today when we got onto the subject of medication and its long term effects as we all know they have. Anyway one of the women I was talking to said to me,”Its about time the goverment stops building all these top of the line homes for the elderly and start building top of the line homes for people with Dementure. With the growing number of people on medications for mental illnesses there will be an epadmic of people suffering from Dementure at an increasingly young age, we all know thats what the long term effects are but nobody wants to acknowledge it so as usual we will try and fix it once it is broken”. I have been trying to get answers for so long from doctors and been trying to get off the medication im on ( i have been free of the symptoms i was put on it for for years and worked through the real shit, SEXUAL ABUSE) I need to come off this properly because it has complications if you dont do it right but the proffressional in this dont want to no.People have no right to do this and get away with it. I feel so pissed off and scared of the toll this has already taken on my mind and body. TRAUMA IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS it is something that happens to you that is out of your control and has a long and damaging effect till the time you are given the love and respect to work through this.I have done this ,I have found me and I love me and now I might forget me again, because some idiots decided that I was mentaly ill and didnt ask me what was going on,Well cheers to Mental Health and the now National government with there knew empethic guidelines Im sure you carry on to make a total cock up of other peoples lives without a blink of an eye.

  7. uznco says:

    Gosh!!! As I sit here in the early hours of the morning trying to do my study for tomorrows study group that I haven’t had time to do this week. I am doing life but a few strange things have been happening with me this week. My reactions over the last few months to things that I would normally just agree to do or would not question because I didn’t think that I had a right to question I have been. The thing is I am reacting more like a teenager and I am not being as reliable as I usually am. i have been having to take time out of things and questioning in a way that isn’t respectful to the leader. She is so wise and I’ve never questioned her so much and wanted to not listen and do things my way. I’ve realised that my parts might be doing life with me and that they want their say now too, they are testing one person that I trust already. They have been getting really stroppy. Then my mentor said to me that she thought I was taking on too much and the thing she was going to get me to do she thought would be too much for me and that she thinks its best I don’t do it. I was devastated as it is something that I have looked forward to and have spoken about for ages and its finally happening. I reacted in a way that made my mentor out to be a lying, deceitful and backing stabbing person. i felt she had been plotting underhandedly and not been honest with me. I was so devastated I text her several times asking what this was really all about and that it wasn’t fair and that I’d found out something that told me she hadn’t been honest. She was silent and I kept texting. So much stuff was going around in my head and I felt I was drowning. The one person who had never let me down in the past and was always wise and did and said all the right things was deceiving me. Then she text me back finally that she in no way wanted to hurt me and that she would call me later. I suddenly thought to myself that what the heck. What is this all about I know thay I trust her so much and I knew beyond a doubt that she would not have done those things. Anyway, cutting a long story short I was completely wrong. The thing is I really felt and believed what I was thinking, yet I knew the opposite. After talking with her that evening I came to realise that I have been acting very not like me, that I had been arguing and disrespecting the one I am accountable to. I had been undermining her and more or less saying i didn’t like how she is running things. etc etc etc. Conclusion as i have written too much here. Is that I have been acting like an overstrung teenager, who demands things goes her way or else. She told me this. I thought oh my this is all new and I didn’t recognise what I was doing. But the thing Is my parts are growing up and they are doing life with me and I am trying to do life too and its all clashing a bit. So now I know and although my life seems a bit unmanageable at the moment it will come right as I learn to get everyone on the same page etc. And I had no idea this was happening. Yes, I felt tired and just so unpredictable. I have to do life with all of us and it is so tiring. I have so much to do though so yes I have had to cut a couple of things so I can do the more important things that I need to do right now. One thing is that I do need to look after me, us, all as one. I need to do some play and I need to rest. Now I just got to do it. So ‘s’ I guess what I am saying when things are unmanageable and becoming unpredicatable then something is going on that needs to be looked at. Read Gudrun’s post to ‘M’ below yours – what she is telling her is self care stuff… and unfortunately she is right. But what I need to know is that I know that I know I have to do self care, I want to and I want to. But I don’t. why is that!!!!?????

  8. s says:

    I think this is the saddest story about Leonie. After all the hard work she has gone through!
    For the last week or so body has been feeling worn out and I have thought the same sort of thing. Just as I am starting to get to grips with my DID, my mental and emotional state, my feelings… my body gives up. And without the bodies energy , it seems impossible to go on. I don’t know if I am sick,(I usually am very healthy, hardly ever have anything wrong with me.) or if I am just exhausted with so much emotional work and change going on inside me. Are my different parts being triggered by feeling so drained and unable to ‘fight’ any longer? Do we need a rest? Do I just give up? I feel that if I lie down I might not get up again, yet I have no energy to work or even do daily activities. Usually I can rise above such feelings. I am afraid of myself feeling like this.

  9. Gudrun Frerichs, PhD says:

    Hi M, I can understand that the recent posts about the impact on the body are disturbing. I thought it is important for people to understand that many body symptoms are a product of stress on the body. It would be wrong to expect the body not to be effected – or even getting angry with your body for not being symptom-free.
    I am hoping that people become aware of the necessity to look after their body. Rest, nutrition, exercise, relaxation, quiet time, and TLC are all very important. Recovery from sexual abuse trauma is not just a mental and emotional task. It’s also re-learning to take loving care of your body.
    It takes about 7 years for each and every cell in your body to be renewed/replaced. The body’s ability to heal is almost magical … but it is necessary to give it a helping hand. Take good care of your body – and when you are stressed as you journey through your recovery – see whether you can find a moment here or there to give some care to your body. Every little moment counts!

  10. m says:

    reading the rescent blogs about the effect of abuse on the body is very distressing. I have so many things that I feel worried about as I sit in the drivers seat.I am always second guessing things, I feel quietly out of control and am finding myself withdrawing from most things. Over the last few days my body feels hightened by anxiety. does this mean that now I am causing myself to become sick. Its like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, the stressful emotions I am feeling, feel out off my control. Its all rather mind blowing.

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