My Childhood Trauma Made Me Sick

February 19, 2024 Sammi Caramela

Twenty years after being sexually assaulted, my childhood trauma made me sick. At the age of 24, I learned — the hard way — that if you ignore your emotions for too long, they will find other ways to get your attention, and even childhood trauma can make you sick.

For two decades, I spent my life repressing and downplaying my trauma, attending therapy that only worsened my symptoms, listening to everyone but myself, and eventually becoming physically ill from the stress.

After several doctor's appointments in just one week, I finally found myself in my new therapist's office with a diagnosis I'd never expected: posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"But I'm physically ill," I'd argued, pointing to the rashes that covered my face and neck and ranting about the days I'd spent bedridden with a high fever.

I'd become a shell of who I used to be. I thought I had cancer, autoimmune diseases, hormonal issues, you name it. I'd thought I might be dying. And part of me was dying. Little did I know, a new part of me was about to be born. 

My therapist proposed the idea that my childhood trauma was making me sick. She came up with a plan to help me heal from the inside out. What happened next felt miraculous.

How Childhood Trauma Made Me Sick

Through my healing journey, I learned that the stress I held in my body — if not released — could lead to a host of health issues. In other words, childhood trauma can actually make some people sick.

Adults who have experienced adverse childhood traumas are more likely to develop problems like heart disease and diabetes.1 Additionally, chronic stress can increase your cortisol levels for prolonged periods, affecting your blood pressure, causing inflammation, and even weakening your immune system.2

After I accepted my diagnosis and began trauma treatment, my therapist revealed that I had been stuck in fight-or-flight. I was living my life in survival mode. My body was pumping too much cortisol, my heart was constantly racing, my digestive system wasn't operating properly, and I was too exhausted to make it through a single day of work.

Releasing Trauma and Healing Your Body

Through various therapies, including talk therapy, I've been able to process and release the childhood trauma that was making me so sick. Fears that were once debilitating are now minor nuisances; belief systems that once defined me are now outdated notions I don't align with. My skin has cleared, my aches and pains have dissipated, my body temperature has lowered to normal, and my energy is restored.

While trauma might live within us for some time, we can escape its prison. By releasing painful memories and their associated symptoms, from shame and anger to grief and anxiety, we can turn our minds into safe, loving homes that don't feel so haunted.

Learn more about how my childhood trauma made me sick by watching the video below.


  1. InBrief: The Impact of Early Adversity on Children’s Development. (2020b, October 29). Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

  2. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.). Cortisol. Cleveland Clinic.

APA Reference
Caramela, S. (2024, February 19). My Childhood Trauma Made Me Sick, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela is a freelance writer, fiction author, poet, and mental health advocate who uses her writing to help others feel less alone. Find her on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and her blog.

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