I am finding that it is quite difficult to put a life journey into words. As I face the task of recording my story, it is hard to know what to include and what to leave out. It is impossible to know what will resonate with others, and what could be counted as irrelevant details. Nevertheless, I will attempt to highlight my foundation, my highs, my lows, and my turning points as each step I have taken has led me to where I am today.
I was raised in a loving home on a lovely ranch in the middle of the great state of Nebraska. I wanted for little, enjoying all the affection, fresh air, and wide open spaces that any little girl could ask for.
Despite my storybook life, I had a somewhat rocky adolescence. I was basically in a bad mood for somewhere around five years. Every. Single. Day. I had no reason to be unhappy and every reason to be basking in my blessings. Yet I didn’t. I was anxious, often depressed, and so incredibly grumpy! I was considered chubby, had a terribly low self-esteem, acne, irregular periods, horrible cramps, a raging sugar addiction, a mind that wouldn’t shut off, and a very negative attitude.
Fast forward to my teen years…my attitude and mood swings may have improved a little (depending on the day), but my acne, periods, sugar addiction, and anxiety did not. I slimmed down a bit which helped my self-esteem (although I now realize that self-esteem really shouldn’t depend on that anyway). I struggled BIG TIME with disordered eating which was incredibly damaging and disruptive to my life. In addition, the sugar consumption was still out of control. There were times when I could have killed for chocolate resulting in incidents where I would eat the better part of a large bag of M&M’s. I would then beat myself up for my “weakness” and “lack of self-control”, get depressed, my anxiety would rise, I couldn’t sleep, my blood sugar would crash, I would need more sugar, and the vicious cycle would continue.
Noticing that things were not quite right, my mom and grandma took me to a gynecologist as a teenager. I ended up on birth control due to my obviously crazy hormones, irregular periods, acne, and debilitating cramps. They covered up most of my symptoms, and I proceeded through life in ignorant bliss. That was until my late 20’s/early 30’s when everything fell apart.
At this point, my entire body slowly began to malfunction. Piece by piece it failed me. My head began to ache, my ears began to constantly ring, my eyesight got blurry, my thyroid went crazy, I got excruciating heartburn after everything I ate, my left arm and hand went numb, I could hardly swallow, my breathing became labored and shallow, I stopped having periods altogether, the hair on my head was falling out, but the hair on my face and body was increasing, I trembled when I walked to the point where sometimes I would have to sit down. I had such bad anxiety and panic attacks that at one point I drove myself to urgent care because I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I had strange pains in organs I didn’t even know I had and I could probably go on, but you get the picture. I was twenty-eight, newly married, and terrified. Was I dying? Would I ever have my life back? Could I ever have children? Did I even have a future? What was happening to me?
I consulted numerous local doctors and specialists, endured too many tests to count, was on so many prescriptions that I had to take medications to offset the side effects of my other medications, and nothing was working! Finally, my husband loaded me up and took me to Mayo. My diagnosis…? Just heartburn without a cause, possible PCOS, and unexplained depression/anxiety. The official plan was to double my dose of heartburn medication, stay on birth control until I wanted to start a family, then take a host of other medications to make it possible, and continue antidepressants to keep me sane. I’m sure you can understand why I couldn’t accept that. There had to be a reason, there had to be a cause, there had to be hope.
At the end of my rope and desperate for a different way, I found functional medicine. I am now a dedicated fan of an integrative approach to healthcare. I respect and recognize that there is a time and place for every kind of practice and I do not discredit or disrespect anyone in any medical field. I am simply pointing out that there are so many options out there that I did not know existed. I learned to be my own advocate! I learned to do my own research, search my own heart, use the brain that God gave me, and make decisions accordingly. I learned that true health is comprehensive, and sometimes we must look for answers outside of the box. Sometimes there is the perfect herb for what ails you, sometimes acupuncture is the best answer, other times perhaps yoga can help, often vitamin and mineral supplementation can do what the most powerful prescriptions in the world cannot, and sometimes it is a simple as cutting out foods that your body is reacting negatively to. Sometimes you need blood work, sometimes you really do need that test, sometimes going to the emergency room will save your life, and sometimes surgery simply must be done. Thank God (quite literally) for all the professionals who perform these tasks. May God forever bless and guide all healing hands.
After finding functional medicine, I began a protocol that restored my nutritional deficiencies, eliminated foods that I was sensitive to and encouraged mind healing practices. I began to heal within weeks. After about three months I was off every single pharmaceutical drug that I had been told I would be taking for the rest of my life. Shortly after, I discovered acupuncture, and I was sold! I have never looked back. Will I go to the traditional doctor if I need to? Absolutely! Would I take my family? You bet I would! I prefer to look at my health now as a team effort. I have built a network of trusted individuals, and I use them to their strengths. I know what services they provide, and I value each of them to what they bring to my health and to my life.
Why did I start The Becoming Effect? The answer is easy. My downward spiral started when I was probably about ten and most of what I went through could have potentially been prevented.
The tricky thing is, I was incredibly healthy at first glance. I rarely even had a cold or the flu. I never broke a bone and was never in the hospital. I missed one day of school in my entire elementary school experience. Despite what it looked like on the surface, when I look back now, I see some red flags. Illness and disease doesn’t have to be obvious to indicate that something is amiss. My body was hanging in there, but at the foundation, there were some major missing building blocks. Why did I crave sugar so intensely? Why did I have such bad acne even though I washed my face with all the newest and fanciest advertised cleansers? Why did I just snap at my mom event though she didn’t deserve it? Why was I spending the carefree days of my youth afraid of cancer, nuclear war, paralysis, car accidents, and every other calamity that I could imagine? I will never know for sure, but it is very likely that I had some major hormonal, nutritional, identity, and confidence crises happening that could have been addressed gently and naturally at the core level.
I believe that life and health are an interconnected web. The mind, body, and spirit balance are essential to our overall wellbeing, and achieving this takes a comprehensive coming of age approach. That is the crux of what The Becoming Effect strives to do. Get ahead of the crisis. Address the core challenges before they become major obstacles. Eliminate risk factors, and build up protective factors to the point where we are turning out a healthier, happier, and more well-rounded generation of girls who will be free to fulfill their amazing potential.
Imagine the places our girls can go without being plagued with chronic health issues (anxiety, depression, autoimmune diseases, infertility later in life, PCOS, cancer, food allergies, diabetes, and the list goes on). These diseases are all rising at epidemic levels, and although we may not eradicate them, we can most certainly slow them down! Once we start doing that, I am convinced that we will see some positive social, financial, and economical repercussions.
Imagine what Christian women who have been through these phases of life themselves could do in mentoring relationships with the girls around them. Imagine what mothers could do when armed with the tools, resources, and information that they need to be at their best for their daughters.
My most basic yet powerful credential is that I have lived it. I was once a girl who struggled. I turned into a teen who struggled, and I transitioned to a woman on a mission to prevent others from experiencing the same hardships.
In addition to this, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in History. My love of all things historical has led me to soak up all the knowledge that I can on the healers of old. The history of these wise and powerful women goes back to the beginning of time, and I find myself in awe of our “foremothers” who have set the stage for the wisdom, grace, poise, and knowledge that encompasses the balanced/healthy woman.
I have a Master’s Degree in Child, Youth, and Family Studies with a focus on Youth Development. This program fed my desire to touch our younger generation as well as the families that they are growing up in. It inspired me to get in the trenches and fight for the power of the family unit. It gave me a heart for prevention and a passion for getting ahead of the issues before they become problematic. Through this degree, I have extensive training in family dynamics, teen culture, and the physical, social, and cultural development of the adolescent.
I have worked in the fields of substance abuse prevention and mentoring, and fully recognize the importance of positive adult influences on the lives of the youth.
Most recently, I am a graduate of the Herbal Medicine for Women training program by Dr. Aviva Romm. This program has inspired me beyond words, grown me as a woman and aspiring healer, and given me the confidence to unleash the amazing power of herbs in my life, the lives of those in my family, and the lives of those involved in The Becoming Effect. I now hold the title of “Certified Woman’s Herbal Educator”, and am so excited to keep learning, growing, and finding out where it will lead.
Your story may be similar or it may be completely different, but regardless of where we were, where we are, or where we are going, it is important to remember that we all have something to share.