Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgia College & State University (now known as Georgia College)
Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy
*I am certified and licensed in the state of Texas to practice OT.
Personal Growth Story
When I was younger, I remember going to the doctor several times with stomach aches and other vague symptoms and they told me over and over again that it was all in my head, they told me they didn’t know what was wrong with me, occasionally prescribed medicine which was not designed to address the set of symptoms I was experiencing. I struggled with fear because I was convinced I might be dying and no one seemed to know why. No one could give me answers or seemed to care enough to take me seriously. If the Dr couldn’t accurately diagnose me within the 10-20 minute session, there was no follow up and no offer of real hope to heal whatever it was that was causing all of my problems.
Thankfully I have learned that much of what I was experiencing was related to lifestyle choices including poor eating habits, poor exercise habits, and an overall poor understanding of stress management. But these realizations took me decades to piece together. I never had an actual diagnosable chronic illness but when you are sick repetitively for years on end you glean the perspective of a chronic illness patient.
I am so thankful now for my frustrations and fears all those years ago because it has fueled my desire to see other people with chronic diseases and long-standing dysfunction within their body experience the renewed functioning like I have. I don’t want you to take decades to feel better- I want to help you condense that time so that you can feel better sooner without as many rounds of trial and error as it has taken me.
From my personal experience, my own personal research, as well as reading lots of anecdotal stories, I am convinced that many of today’s chronic illnesses are truly lifestyle related. This means that all of them can be at the very least better managed and many even reversed following basic lifestyle interventions.
I have also learned that the lifestyle required to sustain health is not dreadful – it’s invigorating. Food used to be a source of such stress for me. I would know I shouldn’t eat a whole batch of brownies, but I just couldn’t stop. I would know french fries weren’t really a vegetable anymore but I craved them so bad. And a salad just wasn’t delicious. After changing some of my foods including how I think about the foods I eat I am able to not just enjoy food but enjoy it guilt-free because I choose to consume foods that are healthy and make me feel good and I have learned to prepare them in a way that is delicious and satisfying. I’m no longer a slave to sugar or carbs. I’m no longer in that cycle of dieting because I am consistently choosing foods that nourish and fuel my body. It’s not a chore to eat healthy anymore, it’s a privilege- and not one that has to be crazy expensive! My first step to changing my food patterns was to give up sugar.
Exercise remains a bit of a struggle for me, but as my eating has changed, so has my energy level. My days consist of chasing my own 2 toddlers around when I’m not working with the children at the outpatient clinic. I recall in grad school during my outpatient pediatric internship coming home and crashing because I just had no energy left. Now I am up and at it most days by about 5:30 or 6 and don’t crash until about 9 and have no problems keeping up with the kids. Movement has become a progressive importance in my life and I look forward to integrating more of it into my life over the next few years.
Stress management, including creating a pattern of rest for myself and the family, has been another lifestyle key to helping me overcome some of my vague symptoms. In the past I have struggled with anxiety and depression- it was never at a full blown clinical level where it impaired my ability to live but it kinda lingered over my life keeping me from engaging fully. This lifestyle adjustment often takes decades to fully realize because there are often very deep triggers we keep unveiling as we go through life and notice our reactions to everyday circumstance.
My Clinical Experience
My first job as an OT was in a hospital setting. There I saw all kinds of people who were sick, injured or recovering from various illnesses. Many of the patients I treated had ongoing, chronic illnesses that increased their risks of re-admission to the hospital and significantly impacted their quality of life. These chronic illnesses were limiting their ability to work, enjoy their family and engage in community environments such as shopping, dining at restaurants or attending a movie. Some were so severe that the idea of taking a shower standing up and then having the energy to put their clothes on independently was overwhelming. I quickly realized that in order to support my patients quality of life, I needed to learn more about not just how to adapt life to meet their impairments but how to support their return to health in such a way that they could have a chance to return to the activities they want to enjoy without reservations or alterations to the activities themselves.
This perspective change gave me the courage to pursue my own personal health journey of exploring what builds a healthy body and what destroys it. I learned the value and benefits of proper nutrition to sustain and support the body. I learned about making connections between what I eat and how I feel. I learned about supplementation for a diet that is not sufficient to meet the body’s needs. I started getting picky about what I put on and around my body to avoid environmental toxins building up in my system. Through this journey I have taken back control of my own weight and health problems. I feel better now than I did at 22 when I had early signs of arthritis in my knees , a bad back, and plantar fasciitis in both feet that just wouldn’t quit.
More recently I have begun working in an outpatient clinic, primarily seeing pediatric patients. This new experience has lead me to believe even more in the important role that a holistic approach including nutrition, environment, and the unique preferences and qualities of each individual and family circumstances can have on the related outcomes. With things like ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorder and developmental delays on the rise, I believe it’s important to address our health deficits now to ensure we have enough functioning individuals in this next generation that are capable of becoming productive members of society to support our species in the generations to come.
My goal for this blog is to help you and your family shortcut some of the wandering I went through to find renewed function in your own life. I hope that you will write to me one day and tell me how the information I share on here has had a positive impact on your life. My goal for this blog is to help over 1,000 people with chronic illness and recurring disease manage their symptoms and hopefully reverse their disease process so that they can live the life they choose to live, not the life they have to live.