ACE study scores

Jul 31, 2018

Have ever been asked what your ACE score is? Have you done the questionnaire to find out what your ACE score is?

ACE = Adverse Childhood Experiences

The ACE study is a very famous one and I’d like to summaries the key findings of this study as it sometimes gets misinterpreted…

To set the scene…

The first publication was back in 1998, where childhood abuse, sexual abuse… were still topics not spoken about and things like smoking were still totally accepted. Like  you could smoke in restaurants, at work, in your office etc, advertising of cool people smoking everywhere and you could get cigarettes in vending machines on the street 😊 So easily accessible for children too.

That has changed so much now, since we know how damaging smoking is to our health.

Key findings of the ACE study:

  1. Childhood adverse events are far more common than expected. Sadly, not much changed here with reports suggesting 1 in 33 children in Australia has been in contact with a child protection service (that is about 1 child per classroom!!)
  2. Many people who had childhood adverse experiences engaged in risk behaviours, such as drinking, smoking, taking drugs, …
  3. In adulthood many people who had childhood adverse experiences had diseases, like chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), diabetes, heart disease, liver disease…

Some of those diseases are referred to as “lifestyle disease” - when people don’t look after their body. Research shows that there is a link between smoking, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, stress to some of those disease.

So there is a strong link between risk behaviour and disease, but not between childhood adverse events and disease.

What the study never said is that childhood adverse events cause diseases in adulthood.

This is really really important, because for so long I thought that my life's ruined, I’m damaged goods, can’t function or deal with day to day stuff, just going from flashbacks to nightmares … and now this! I will get all those disease because of my past...

That is wrong!

I don't know about you, but there was a time in my life, where I was smoking and drinking a lot. I was living on coffee and chocolate… so that's quite an unhealthy lifestyle I had, I know …

This is the reason I'm doing this blog & video, because when I was first diagnosed with complex PTSD, that was my lifestyle and when people pointed out to me that I should go out and do some exercise and live healthier - I got so angry with these people. I snapped at them and got defensive.

Like hey, I've just been diagnosed with a mental health disorder because all of that stuff that happened in my childhood. Now you're telling me to do exercise or eat healthy and that's gonna help me. Off I went to have another drink and some more chocolate, coffee…

A few more years of unhealthy living and I started to have some issues with my gut, I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, IBS…

To be diagnosed with that I had to go through a lot of elimination diets and FODMAP diet. Have you ever done one of those? Gosh, they are a struggle.

I had three good goes at them (let’s not talk about the seven half-attempts lol). I just found it so difficult to stick to those strict diets…

I had a very strong view, that diets not going to change anything for me - and back then I still was on a lot of medication to help me with my PTSD symptoms...

But for some reason, I actually felt a lot better while I was on this diet.

It's not that my flashbacks disappeared and things like that. It was more like I didn't feel so irritated. I slept better and it felt like I was more tolerant to the day-to-day struggles.

  • The first time I thought no that's not the diet.
  • The second time I thought that's a bit of a funny coincidence
  • The third time I realised that I really need to do something about my diet :)

Fast track to Now - I am on no medication whatsoever at this point in my life and I manage my PTSD symptoms quite OK :)

 

But I changed my lifestyle - A LOT! 

  • I meditate (lol I never thought in a million years I would)
  • even do mindfulness exercises (I used to refuse to even try)
  • there's no more Red Bulls, I used to love my Red Bull
  • healthy diet
  • exercise
  • regular sleep pattern

Things have really shifted for me in a big way. I changed my risk behaviours and my whole life changed. 

Know that this is possible for you too. We are much stronger than what we give ourselves credit for. You got the power and resources within you to create a better future for yourself. If stubborn & lazy me could lol, than so can you. I believe in you!

All that trauma, abuse, assault and neglect made us feel like we are hopeless and useless.

The main reason I always slipped and went back to my bad habits is because I felt like I'm not worthy of having a healthy body. I didn't feel I was worthy of feeling good.

Key to sticking to any new habit is that you need to start believing that you are worthy of having a healthy body. That you are worthy of feeling happy, energetic, joyous and full of energy. Come on, give yourself permission :)

The change to a healthy mindset, plus healthy lifestyle shifted everything for me. I started sleeping better and with it I started feeling calmer within myself, and my flashbacks and nightmares decreased. And that is so my wish for you!

As usual, I am sending you lots & lots of love and rainbows to brighten up the tough days just a little ...

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