I’ve spent the majority of my life living under chronic stress, traumatized by a number of different experiences. Ever since childhood I’ve struggled with severe depression and low self-worth. Growing up as an only child with a mentally unstable mother who made several attempts to end her own life had caused me to constantly question the world and my place within it. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of lonely years afraid and uncertain, making poor choices in regards to my body and soul.
I won’t go into explicit detail here (that’s what my memoir is for), but I will share what really pushed me over the edge…
In October of 2004 my mother killed herself.
It was expected–yet unexpected. At 24 years old, I thought I’d put the past behind me. Unfortunately, that wasn’t so. Her death brought back all of the painful childhood memories of her previous suicide attempts and struggle with mental illness, along with fresh waves of anger, guilt, shame, frustration, and fear that haunted me for nearly eight years.
At first I tried to just push through it, determined to not let her destroy me in death as I felt she’d destroyed me in life. I was in the middle of college, working towards a degree in Interior Architecture & Design–finally turning my life around after escaping an abusive boyfriend. And I was proud that I was finally living my dream of going to college while being a single mother of a six-year old boy whom I’d had at the young age of seventeen. I wasn’t about to let her death take my accomplishments away. I wasn’t about to let grief destroy everything I’d worked so hard to achieve.
It’s a complicated story, but I was determined to keep moving forward. And I did, for awhile. I even fell in love a few months later…
Eventually, though, the grief I had tried to ignore caught up with me shortly after I graduated, remarried, and became pregnant with my second child. Now, combine constant stress from new, uncontrollable life events (that I share in my book) + postpartum depression + raw grief = a recipe for disaster.
I developed chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, gained over 100 lbs in two years, was borderline diabetic, became severely depressed and struggled with constant anxiety. One psychiatrist confirmed I had bipolar depression (a diagnosis that had haunted me since childhood) another said I had borderline personality disorder. Whatever it was, my moods were all over the place, my children afraid to set me off for fear that I would begin yelling. My husband did his best to help me, but I was a wreck.
I couldn’t control myself. I couldn’t control my emotions. I couldn’t control my anger.
I constantly feared what the future held, and was always worried that the family I had desperately wanted for so long would be torn apart by forces beyond my control.
And I was so completely ashamed of my inability to get it together–at one point, I even questioned if life really was worth living…
But I swore I’d never do that to my children. And I fought against my depression and grief everyday to be the mother to them that my mother could never be to me.
My mother’s choice to end her life made me feel worthless–like I was never enough of a reason to keep her here, and I promised myself I’d never make my children feel that way. Now, in hindsight, I know that this is a false belief. I know she had problems that were beyond my control, but back then, I couldn’t help feeling that way.
Then, at the end of 2011, after futile doctors visits and failed medications that were prescribed to help overcome my physical pain and mental distress, the culmination of stress and grief caused my body to give out. I suffered a severe herniated disc in my lower spine with a partial amputation. For three months I couldn’t walk, sit, or stand.
It happened so suddenly, I felt as if my own body wouldn’t let me keep living this way. It was as if some unseen force had knocked the wind out of me in an attempt to get me to pay full attention to what was happening as a result of my state of being.
At first, I mourned all that I couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to do. Then I began to blame all of the horrible things that had happened to me in the past–until one day, something unexpectedly shifted…
It happened so imperceptibly that I can’t even pinpoint the one thing that changed everything. Maybe it was the fact that I was forced to put everything in my life on hold that fed the clarity.
I had to close my photography business, turn clients away. I had to drop all of my creative projects I’d been working on. And I had to completely rely on my husband, brother-in-law, father, and step-mother to take care of my two kids. I couldn’t even clean the house, cook, or sit at the computer to surf the web.
Laying for hours on end in bed, I started to question what my purpose was and asked–what am I doing with my life? Since there was no great answer revealed, I did the only thing I seemed capable of doing–I started writing in my journal again–the first time in a long time that I’d taken up my pen.
The writing led to the realization that I’d always been living with the mindset of the victim, and I wasn’t taking the necessary steps that were required to heal.
But what were those steps? How do you heal? How do you survive trauma? Overcome stress? Find happiness?
Well…I didn’t have a roadmap. And at the time, I had little support, no money, no job, and no magic pill to take the pain away. All I had were questions, my pen, a journal, and curiosity…
What you will find on this website is everything that came from that humble beginning. I’ll share with you how I realized that I AM STRONG, I AM RESILIENT– and that I had the power within me all along to discover exactly what I needed to finally heal from a lifetime of pain.
I’ll also share the myriad of ways that my life has transformed since the beginning of 2012.
For starters, I’ve lost nearly 50 lbs in a little over a year by doing nothing more than changing the foods I consume. Since my back has taken awhile to heal, regular exercise has been a constant issue. I can walk my dogs again, though, and I’ve made it through a winter of walking on Wisconsin ice! But what amazes me the most is that I’ve made it through an entire year of living medication free: I’ve managed my depression entirely through nutrition and holistic living, my blood pressure is back in the normal range, I don’t have the dizziness or fatigue that used to plague me everyday, I have energy and clarity–and this was the first year that the anniversary of my mother’s death didn’t completely debilitate me. And, I am so grateful that I can play with my children again. I am more patient, calm, and understanding. I can love my husband and feel confident in my body. I can live, and the amazing thing is–I’m only halfway finished with my journey!
For the first time in my life, I can say that I am truly happy–and I have NUMEROUS reasons to LIVE!
I hope you will join me here on my continued journey and discover your own blueprint for success.
Not sure what to do next?
Start here by making a promise and a commitment to yourself.
Never doubt that the world needs you!