(some of) Michelle's Story
Born into the world with my mother's umbilical cord around my neck, I have been fighting my way into existence since day one.
Stomach pains, tingling sensations, dizziness, sleeping issues, and even fainting spells came to me in elementary school. I didn't know I was walking with intergenerational trauma cursing through my veins, childhood trauma cropping up, and my body and soul begging me to break the cycle.
I spent my childhood and teen years thinking something was fundamentally wrong with me. I used to tell the doctor, "I don't have any reason to be so sad, but I am," and, "I'm fine, but I have these marks on my arms and it makes other people uncomfortable."
By age eleven, I was prescribed my first round of antidepressant therapy. Here started a lifelong battle with myself and mental health. The pills didn't help because they didn't address the reasons behind my emotions and self-harming behaviors. By the time I was a teenager, I was convinced my brain was fucked, didn't make enough happy chemicals on its own, and that I'd be crazy forever. Eventually, I went down the path of taking more than prescribed at once to try to end the pain I couldn't name. I did this twice, but because it didn't lead to my stomach being pumped, only a consult with the doctor who deemed it a side effect of the meds, I felt like an even bigger failure. Pill after pill was tried until I lost hope altogether.
Without the help I really needed, I sought it out in the idea of comfort and connection with much older boys, alcohol, cannabis, and eventually, I began dieting as a form of gaining control over the chaos. I tried to "get healthy" and wandered into a serious cases of orthorexia, a subtype of anorexia nervosa characterized by an obsession with healthy eating. I was also a purging subtype, overachiever that I am!, and so you could find me at all hours in the gym, trying to work out unrecognized and unnamed childhood trauma with no guidance.
By age 16, I almost lost my life to anorexia. It wasn't a passing thing, and it wasn't an easy road back to a place where my hair stopped falling out, my menstrual cycle returned, and I could sleep soundly at night.
In my 20s, I tried everything to distance myself from being the small town girl with the eating disorder. It didn't work. I found myself binge-eating, binge-drinking, and pulling at my skin in disgust. Drunk and full of food, I'd go to the gym in the night and try to exercise and study at the same time. I never let myself heal because every attempt I made in life was to ignore the feelings I couldn't name.
Somewhere along the way an inner critic popped up who said she'd parent me to perfection. I thought I could trust her, but years later realized she is just another manifestation of pain and fear and abandonment. Perfection is the pursuit of pushing away pain. I'm over it.
While my story started in the mental health field as a patient with anxiety/depression, self-harming behaviors, and anorexia nervosa, I then graduated into spending the next decade researching, interviewing experts, attending my own various forms of therapy, and writing articles from an objective lens on things like addiction, eating disorders, and self-harm/suicide, as well as domestic violence and abuse.
I became certified in Mental Health First Aid by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and earned a Masters degree in Women's Studies and Feminist Research. My undergraduate degree focused on the sociology of health, sexuality, and gender. My diploma is in Holistic Herbal Therapy with a focus on holistic nutrition and aromatherapy. I am sober from alcohol. I am working on healing trauma (recovering from C-PTSD) and living an active lifestyle with fibromyalgia. I'm happily divorced and child-free.
Now, I write about mental health , addiction, and chronic illness topics to help bring a voice to things I couldn't discuss when I was younger and to help the next generation feel less alone and less fucked up. May you know your innate power to heal and may you find your path to inner peace. I can only pray that some of my words may help along the way. Much love.