My story of healing and why it matters.
I dealt with chronic illness from an early age. Depression, anxiety, Hashimoto's, IBS, migraines, fibromyalgia.
I was a sick kid. Three sets of ear tubes and a tonsillectomy by age 4. My parents both smoked which obviously contributed to my illnesses. They divorced when I was 5. I had chronic stomach aches and headaches throughout childhood. I missed a lot of school.
My mother got involved in cocaine and alcohol consumption when I was young. Briefly, we lived with my maternal grandmother where my uncle sold drugs out of the basement. I slept on the couch where men would walk by me at all hours of the night seeking drugs. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 7. She eventually succumbed to the disease when I was 12 (she was only 36). My father was diagnosed as having bipolar depression. He was hospitalized for a suicide attempt when I was 5 and he escaped from the mental hospital, showing up at the apartment my mother had moved us to and I remember feeling incredibly confused and scared. I knew he tried to love us, but he never really became an adult, at least not while I was a child. The divorce from my mother impacted him in a deep way. My paternal grandmother became burdened with taking care of us after my mother died, and it was clearly too much for her.
I became involved heavily in a dogmatic, shame-based Pentecostal church during a very pivotal time in my life right after my mother died. I was brainwashed that I was going to hell if I "sinned" in any way, including feeling alive and expressing my inherent sexual energy. The pastor of the church actually told me it was my duty to lose weight for my future husband.
I often felt body shame as I had been in a larger body my entire life. My body was often the topic of conversation by my father and other family members. I was shamed for my enlarging breasts and protruding stomach. By 3rd grade, I was well over 100 pounds, by 7th grade, I was over 200 pounds, and by high school, I was 280 pounds. At one point, my eyebrows fell out and my hair got really thin and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in my teens.
By my mid-20s, I was nearly 400 pounds. I could barely move. I was depressed, anxious, fearful, in pain, and completely exhausted. I should mention here that I was also in a toxic relationship with the man who would later become my first husband and the father of my two children. I slept 16 hours a day. I saw psychiatrists who put me on more and more meds that made me more and more numb. I was put on medical leave from work several times. Not once did they mention my traumatic history or my toxic relationship. I considered permanent disability, but I could not face that. I was not yet willing to see myself as permanently broken. My body was breaking under the impact of my traumatic past. Something in me knew this. I didn't have any medical training at that point, but I started researching. Eventually, I learned that my physical body weight, depression, and chronic pain was the culmination of the distress that my body, nervous system, immune system, and endocrine system had endured over many years.
I started on my journey of healing in my late 20s. Therapy, gentle movement, and self-compassion. I had to reparent myself. I had to learn to forgive myself. I had to recognize that I really had done the best that I could have done given my circumstances. In fact, given my history, it was a miracle I was educated and not on drugs. Studies bear this out now. I didn't know this then.
When I got healthy enough, I eventually decided I wanted to help others heal themselves too. I didn't know what to do. I just knew I needed to start somewhere. I had a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, so I had to return to school to get all of my science courses. By the grace of God, I applied to one PA school (Wayne State University) in 2009, and was miraculously accepted into the program matriculating in 2010. During this time, I was in an emotionally abusive marriage, already had my daughter, and ended up getting pregnant with my son the second year of school. I had my son, contracted sepsis, and got very ill and knew I could possibly die. But I made it through.
Since graduation as a physician assistant in 2012, I have worked in multiple medical settings including surgery, family medicine, internal medicine, geriatrics, and psychiatry. While I did not understand why I had chosen the path of PA (as I have been heavily disgruntled with the declining state of modern medicine), I finally understand it.
It's so I can combine all this experience, as well as the years of independent study and courses/trainings in mind-body medicine, functional medicine, integrative medicine, energy healing, and medical intuition into this amazing hybrid I finally understand I was called to create.
It was a very, very long road for me to get where I am now. I want you to know I have been where you were. I am sure, deep in my heart, that all my pain and all my struggle was meant to create this beautiful opportunity I have to help others now. I would not trade my journey for anything.
I am telling you this because we must look at our past to treat what is going on in our present. Our stories matter. Trauma matters. Our bodies store our pain. Our bodies do the absolute best they can to return to wholeness, but sometimes, it is just too much and dis-ease is created by a body merely trying to do its best. It does not mean we ruminate on the past, talk about the same things over and over, or live our lives through the lens of our past. It just means we really understand where we came from and use this as a lens to guide our present approach to treatment.
The above examples of my past are just some of the struggles I faced. I never felt safe until I met my now-husband, Troy. In fact, I am still learning to feel safe and trust others. I still feel awkward when people tell me how much I mean to them. I never felt I mattered. I know, deep in my heart now, that I do.
My story matters to you because I have walked your walk. I know the frustrations you face. I have been in so much pain I could barely move. I was drugged up on multiple antidepressants, antipsychotics, pain pills, anxiety medication, and even blood pressure medicine at one point. This doesn't mean your story is the same as mine; it just means that I know how difficult it is to truly believe you can heal when all the evidence of your current situation is saying otherwise. I needed help from the right healers and therapists and the medical providers too. We are meant to heal and connect. Healing occurs in this connection, when we are given the permission to be seen and witnessed just as we are.