My Story: Battling Co-Dependency, Burnout and Autoimmune to Entrepreneur Success
I wan’t always mindful. In fact, I was known to err on the side of reckless depending on who you asked. And if you asked me in this present day, I would have to agree.
In my teenage years and into my 20’s, I had a lot of angst that I didn’t know how to deal with so I would purposely numb out. I turned to friendship and connection as my saving grace from my lonely inner world. Luckily, it wasn’t difficult for me to make friends but the quality of some of those friends could be considered at best, debatable.
Truth be told, I honestly didn’t think I would make it past age 30. At the rate I was going, coupled with a few near death experiences and questionable moments with the law, to this day I’m amazed (and GRATEFUL) that I am where I am these days.
We don’t learn linearly, and this is no different. I believe the most powerful shifts in my life stemmed from the ‘rock bottoms’ I endured, a strong will to change, and most importantly- Self Love and Respect.. which I didn’t always have.
Somewhere along my journey, I learned to foster the most important relationship I’ve ever had the pleasure of having… with myself.
But before all that began, something needed to break. And boy did it ever.
It started coming crashing down early 2009 right after I left a bad marriage and moved to California to start over. The impact of my decisions, toxic and abusive relationships, and a rollercoaster ride of drugs and alcohol had finally caught up with me and my body gave out (the first time).
Starting over in California (me on the left)
This was the most obvious start of my health decline but in retrospect, the signs leading up to that point were quite obvious but ‘conveniently’ brushed aside because I was quite good at ignoring things I did not want to deal with.
There are always lessons to learn from every challenge. Many of which, I needed to learn over and and over again to break the cycle.
I started to change my lifestyle drastically and put nutrition in the forefront of priorities. My health started to stabilize and much of the pain in my body faded away. I knew I was on to something. It was around this time when I discovered yoga and meditation and eventually decided I wanted to pursue it professionally.
From there, I acquired several more certifications in yoga, personal training, and health coaching and enjoyed a career of seeing 1 on 1 clients and teaching at several studios around Los Angeles.
While this was fulfilling work, it was also very demanding. The drive alone between 4 different studios all over a huge city was really starting to get to me. I was working crazy hours ranging from very early morning, mid day, and late evening classes. I had very little time for myself and self care. To top it off, I was ALWAYS getting sick. And every time I got sick, I was a minimum of 2 weeks recovery time. And like most people experience, not ‘clocking in’ means no money made.
I remembered thinking how ironic it was. Here I was, seemably the picture of ‘health’ but inside I was crumbling and headed into serious burnout. And the financial reality of this was really starting to add up as I fell into the cycle of literally living paycheck to paycheck. This made it impossible to save for any type of future.
Eventually, it all started to catch up to me again and I was diagnosed officially with my first autoimmune disorder, ‘Hashimotos.’ I was put on medication and this time I made even more drastic changes and really started to examine my life in a way that I hadn’t before.
I realized something ridiculous. Here I was a Yoga Instructor but I was stressed AF. I was in another partnership that had turned toxic so my home life was unstable and at times just miserable. To make matters worse, I convinced myself that I didn’t have a choice because I felt financially strapped and dependent on him. Per usual, I got in my own way.
I knew this level of stress and heartache was clearly making a detrimental impact on my wellbeing in ways that I had not foreseen and have been able to deal with in the past with diet and exercise alone. This seemed much more deeply rooted.
More often than not, the profound Breakthrough in life, comes out of a complete Breakdown.
My life changed when I stepped into full responsibility. After 6 years of partnership (with the last 3 being mostly unhappy), I finally allowed that relationship to end and I took a year to heal by backpacking and traveling around the globe once again, in search of ME. My thirst of the digital nomad life was ignited during this time. I was able to volunteer and teach classes in Costa Rica, lead my first international yoga retreat, scuba dive to my hearts content, motorbike around Bali and volunteer teaching English, train Muay Thai in Thailand, hike epic breathtaking trails in Kauai, explore plant medicine in Colombian ceremony in the middle of a jungle, and chase as many waterfalls as I could. Traveling solo allowed me to experience more growth in one year than all the years leading up to it. I felt so healthy, so strong, so powerful, so peaceful, and so deeply in love with life.
While this trip was nothing short of life-changing and a spiritual awakening for me, I still had more lessons to learn and I was quickly sucked back in to old patterns that I was not yet aware of on my return home.
Climbing trees and chasing waterfalls in Costa Rica
After traveling and being happily single for awhile, I felt ready to date again. I met someone who was incredibly charming, witty, handsome, and downright hilarious. While he swept me off my feet rather quickly, I couldn’t help but feel that something was off. My old patterns moved in and I brushed that feeling off to focus on everything he was doing right. After all, he was going out of his way to court me and make me feel special. What could possibly be wrong?
Looking back, the red flags were there and they continued to build as time went on. I had never had the experience of being with someone who could in a few short moments from one another, single-handedly make me feel like I was the Queen of his world and then his biggest distain and regret all in one sitting. It was the greatest emotional rollercoaster I had ever experienced. Yet, I still couldn’t grasp the reality of what I was truly intertwined in. So when my lease came to an end with my former housemates, he insisted I move in with him. Despite that little voice inside my head that said, ‘Don’t do it’ – well, I did it anyway.
In short, things got a lot worse from there.
The relationship played out the way it did and by the end of it, I was left feeling completely broken and emotionally shattered. I didn’t know what a covert narcissist was until we parted ways and a girlfriend, who bared witness to many of our tormetuous altercations, mentioned it to me. I read up on it and finally understood why I couldn’t see it when I was it it. He knew my weaknesses better than I did and played them well. The ultimate mind-games.
During that experience, my health started to unravel again. It was almost as if my magical and empowering year solo traveling just a few short years ago, was completely null and void. Everything about me started to backpedal. My self esteem was in shambles.
After he left, I stayed in the apartment we had gotten together and worked very hard to fill it with love again. It became a home I was very proud of. At that stage, I was well versed in different facets of digital marketing and was working with a few different agencies while taking on my own clients. I was slowly started to rebuild my framework and relationship with Self. I ate super clean, practiced yoga, meditated, and worked out regularly. I was feeling good with the direction I was headed, but as time went on, I started to get sicker and sicker and sicker.
Me at one of my numerous doctors appointments
Eventually, I was tired ALL the time. And not just a feeling of low energy but rather, sheer exhaustion.. like everything I did took so much effort. I had chronic pain all over various parts of my body ranging from moderate to severe depending on the day. Some days I was completely bedridden and the only thing I could muster doing was trying to change scenery from going to my bed to sofa. That alone took so much effort.
I developed severe insomnia and would lie awake every night with rampant thoughts moving like speed trains throughout my brain. If I was lucky to fall asleep, I would always wake up in the night and the cycle would continue. On average, I got between 3-5 hours of sleep a night despite all my best efforts of trying to calm my mind.
I started suffering cognitively. I couldn’t remember simple things. On a regular basis, I would walk into a room, stop, and wonder why I was there.. sometimes never remembering. The brain fog was a constant presence. At times when talking, I would start to jarble words… sometimes mixing them around in a sentence, or forget them all together. I was terrified I was losing my mind.
I was googling things like ‘early onset dementia’ and ‘signs of a heart attack’ as at times I would get horrific chest pains and heart palpitations. This became my norm. Through its natural course, I started experiencing depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts on days where the pain was so physically bad. I also felt this was no way to live. It just didn’t make sense to me why all of this was happening. I was terrified and felt so alone.
My work fell to the wayside. I couldn’t focus nor had the energy anyway. Alongside Hashimoto’s, P.O.T’s, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I was also developing another autoimmune called Reynold’s Syndrome which affected my hands and feet and would cause them to lose circulation and be ice cold/numb so I had to wear gloves in the house alongside thick knit socks to keep my feet in temperature equilibrium.
I was seeing a Naturopath but we had hit a wall. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I sought out a Functional Medicine Doctor who specialized in ‘complex cases’ located 60 miles away from me. I was willing to try anything. But despite running every test under the sun and trying different supplement and medication protocols, we still came up short.
It wasn’t until I was sitting in her office one day and she was going over yet another series of test results, when something dawned on me and I asked her if she had tested me for mold. She stopped in her tracks and said, ‘No. But if your intuition is telling you that it may be that, then let’s test for it.’ That was the day that was the start of a new timeline for me.
The events thereafter unfolded into a cascade of much needed answers alongside more personal challenges. My official diagnosis was CIRS – Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, which was my body in a constant state of threat being unknowingly exposed to high levels of hidden toxic mold in my home. I had to leave everything behind as it was contaminated with mycotoxins. I was just too reactive. My beloved apartment by the beach, every book I ever owned, furniture, artwork, costumes, electronics, vacuums, bedding, clothing, even my car.. had to be left behind for me to start with a clean slate in order to heal.
Looking back, that was probably the hardest couple of years that I’ve ever gone through. But at the same time, what I’ve gotten on the other side of it all was nothing that I could’ve foreseen, much less be able to place value upon. What I got, was the gift of ME.
My healing journey has been multidimensional since then. While at my deepest rock bottom moment the defining catalyst that put me over the edge was indeed toxic mold poisoning, the accumulation of my whole lifetime and generational lifetimes played the the biggest role of all.
I never knew the significance of how unresolved trauma plays in our lives and if left unchecked, often manifests as dis-ease. My body gave me many clues over the years but I didn’t have the foresight to grasp. This has been one of the greatest lessons for me in this lifetime alongside innerstanding that I was attracting certain people in my life that played on my abandonment issues and subconscious limiting belief that ‘I was not good enough or worthy.’
Turning my life around took a lot of work both on the physical level, but also the deep layers of the emotional and spiritual level. I’ve learned to fall in love with myself again and develop an awareness that I’ve never had before. My approach to life has drastically shifted and I’ve found the work that not only helped contribute to my healing, but equally aligned with what I know is my life purpose.
It took me nearly losing everything to find my life’s work wrapped within this business model that expands exponentually beyond us as just individuals. This has been the ultimate gift of giving me my life and purpose back.
Who Am I Now?
I serve from a place of groundedness, love, peace and clarity. I know who I am and what I am in this world. I lean into my intuition with grace and trust myself like I never have before.
Integrity, curiosity, being a safe haven and equanimity are pillars of my expression in this world alongside my service and mission.
I travel, I dance, I love, I stand for truth and freedom. I know that when we are in full alignment with God/Universe and have the right business vehicle, there is infinite abundance at our fingertips. My mission is to guide people home to who they truly are .. and that is the CREATOR OF YOUR LIFE.
Your wish is YOUR command.
It is my deepest honor to walk along side you in your journey.
Overlooking the pyramids of Mexico during the 1st sunrise of 2022