What everyone wants to hear--who I am on paper....
I am a licensed clinical social worker, author, and competitive International Latin Ballroom Dancer who is passionate about the integration of social work, medical models, consumer care, and empowerment. As a University of California, Davis Regent's scholar alumna and recipient of CSU, Chico's MSW graduate student of 2006 award, my drive for academic excellence has enhanced my proficiency in the topics of autoimmune disease and trauma. My own struggles with autoimmune disease and trauma have resulted in decades of study in how to heal from the inside out on all dimensions: Physical, emotional, and person-specific. I have a particular interest in alternative healing modalities. I am certified in NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique), Reiki, and Traditional Chinese medicine.
What I want people to know....
You don't have to go through something personally in order to have empathy or compassion for others. But it sure helps to have been there yourself.
The most valuable training I have has been learned through my personal struggles with chronic illness and experience with numerous healing modalities. These experiences strengthened my expertise in the many layers of complexity involved in autoimmune disease. The mind-gut connection is a personal interest of mine: I have Crohn's disease. My background as a clinical social worker draws my attention to the intimate relationship the gut and brain have with each other.
My passion to create this website and to share my story came from decades of hardships--all of which have brought me to this very moment in my life. Today I can embrace what I have learned from my struggles. This allows me to share with others ways to embark upon their own healing journeys.
We all have our stories. Stress is a part of everyone's life. My story isn't easier or harder than most--it is just MINE. In order to understand the evolution of my disease process, it was essential that I go back to the beginning of my life and understand events that influenced who I am today and undoubtedly had an impact on my immune system.
Trauma consumed my childhood. I lived in a very high stress environment--so much that I didn't know how to function without feeling adrenaline surge through my veins like I was being chased by a tiger. This continued decades after I was truly "safe" from any emotional or physical harm. My body couldn't tell the difference.
While I tried to cope with the unsafe environment of my childhood, I was too young to have words or the maturity to express myself. This had terrible consequences for me. My mental health and emotional spirit suffered--and my body followed.
After one year old I had numerous infections, impacting every system of my body. By the time I reached my late teens, I had been prescribed hundreds of antibiotics. I didn't get any better, instead I worsened--I was diagnosed with too many labels to count. None of these labels helped me heal. In fact, they made me more sick as I incorporated them into my identity. As a last resort to find the origin of my problems, an exploratory procedure was recommended. This resulted in a life threatening complication. I almost lost my life, but today I am truly living a fulfilled life!
Each challenge in my life offered me opportunities to view my life differently. I had choices and opportunities to embrace true healing-both my physical and emotional healing. They were both equally important.
There was no prescription or intervention that would come close to the healing power of relationships in my life. These relationships helped me connect to my body, my true nature, and my strength. With this, true healing became possible. These relationships were with me all throughout my life and they are the reason I am still here today!
There were many times I felt I only had two choices: Give up or Give in. I chose neither. I could no longer accept that physicians' training made them better experts in my body than I was. I rid myself of the label "incurable." This required a lot of hope. Even more, it required a willingness to be open-minded. I had to challenge myself to look beyond what was in front of me and to employ the miracle of me and the wisdom of my body. This single most important realization-- calling upon MYSELF as an expert in my own body--helped me find my own voice and to listen to the answers to my health struggles that existed only within me. My focus became to connect the dots of my life and to embrace integration of ALL parts of myself: Environment, lifestyle, and experiences that contributed to a disease process raging in my body. All of me required attention, compassion, and help.
Healing is a lifelong journey. I will never be done with healing because as humans there is always more to do. There are many days I struggle with symptoms and flare-ups--some days are better than others. However, my days of feeling good exceed my days of not. I am able to participate in my life in ways I never imagined possible. I am pleased to say that I have never taken any immunosuppressant drugs to treat the Crohn's disease or autoimmune conditions. I have never had any reparative surgeries or resections. I still have all of my organs intact. My emotional well-being is the best it has ever been, and my life is rich with healthy relationships and passions that contribute to the strength of my body.
I am not a statistic--I have created my own.
Beyond any labels and certainly beyond illness...