- Phi Theta Kappa- National Honors Society/Ivy Tech Community College 1992 & 2010
- Published Children’s Book Peanut Butter Soup– 2004
- Honorary member of the Pro Bono Committee- Legal Services Organization of Indiana/Greater Clark County, District 13-2006
- Published in Digital SLR Photography magazine (worldwide)- 2010
- Published in Real magazine (Australia)-2011
- Constructed and donated website for Greater Clark County’s homeless shelter (Haven House) 2012
- Associate of Arts in Behavioral Sciences- Vincennes University 2010-2013
- CPC/Certification in Substance Abuse- Vincennes University 2010-2013
- Dean’s List- Vincennes University 2013
- Graduated with honor’s from Vincennes University- 2013
- Joined Homeless Task Force in Greater Clark County- 2013
- Began Bachelor’s in Psychology -fall of 2014/Indiana University East
- Dean’s List- December of 2014/Indiana University East
- Inducted into the National Honors Society (Indiana University East) -January 3, 2015
- Dean’s List- May of 2015- Indiana University East
- Became a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success- Sigma Alpha Pi- Indiana University East- August 16, 2015
- May 2016- Inducted into Sigma Alpha Pi: National Society of Leadership and Success
- May 13, 2016- Graduated with honor’s from Indiana University East with a B.S. in Psychology
When I was nine years old, I was told by a doctor that I had a heart murmur. He said that I would never be able to have children, do any extra curricular activities, or become too excited. I chose not to believe him. I went on to run in cross country and trak from the ages 9-11, winning more than thirty ribbons and medals. I also had four children, and have lived a life that few might believe is true.
I wet the bed until I was fourteen years old, and often cried myself to sleep- terrified- knowing that I would wake up shortly, soaked again. By the age of twelve, I was clinically depressed, and by the time I was 16, had attempted suicide a number of times. I felt that life had chewed me up and all but spit me out. I was (mis) diagnosed with bipolar disorder in my early twenties. Over the next decade, I continued to bounce in and out of Behavioral Health, not understanding just what was wrong with me. The people around me led me to believe that I was broken or “damaged”; that I was “sick”. It wasn’t until I had studied psychology (in college) many years later that I began to understand just what had actually happened to me. I had been sexually molested by a relative when I was only nine years old. How could anyone possibly behave “normally” under such circumstances? And then I came to realize that I did not have bipolar disorder, or a “personality disorder”, etc.; I was merely responding to the brutality against me, and that my behaviors were to be expected given the circumstances.
I found myself pregnant and alone in my early twenties. I moved into a homeless shelter. After giving birth to my daughter, I moved back into the homeless shelter, taking my daughter with me. Multiply that times two. Years later, I was living in a small apartment, with my two young daughters. A family member wanted my oldest daughter and devised a plot to take her. She called CPS, child protective services, and hatched an evil plan; accusing another family member of molesting my daughter. The government started an investigation, and placed my two children in foster homes.
I fought for the next eleven years to bring my daughters home. At the time, I was in college. I was a med. student with a 3.9 GPA- Phi Theta Kappa. I was doing all that I could to get out of the rut I was in. During that time, the case snowballed downward, collecting lies and accusations- it was an utter and complete nightmare. I lost my mind. I lost my place in school, and was arrested for “kidnapping” my own children. They locked me away in the psych ward. Again. And again. And again.
I was put on a colourful array of medications and psychotropics. I was told by a doctor that I would need to take them for the rest of my life. I chose not to believe him. Over the years, I grew hopeless. I believed, truly, all of the ugly chatter in my head. There were days that I prayed for cancer- I wanted to die- because the emotional pain was so great. Pain and blackness swallowed me daily. My girls never came home. I was in and out of the homeless shelter, more than ten times. The psyche ward became my home away from home. By all means, I should have been a statistic. By all means, I should have died, many times.
Somewhere along the way, I started seeing things differently. It’s as if the light came on, and I could see things for how they truly are. I began to understand that life is like a huge spiderweb, and that we’re all connected. We all need each other. Some of us are dished out a silver plate, with big, fresh juicy grapes, spilling over the edges. Some of us are born with a paper plate and Ramen noodles…and a spoon. (Have you ever tried eating Ramen noodles with a spoon?!) And some of us are born with nothing.
Somewhere along the way, I began to understand that God wasn’t trying to kill me. He didn’t hate me. He was actually just trying to get my attention. He wanted to let me know that all of those horrible things that I had gone through, were not in vain. He was simply “designing” me. He allowed me to go through such tragedies so that I could grow closer to Him. He wanted to give me a deeper compassion for humanity, and a greater understanding.
You don’t get those things from winning the lottery. The more I understood, the more gratitude I began to have, and the world wasn’t so ugly and scary anymore. I found myself at a cross road and knew that I had a choice to make. I could either continue being be the victim, or choose to be a victor. I chose the latter. I immediately began “cleaning house” and by that I mean discarding every drop of self pity that I had stuffed away into the dark corners of my mind.
Self pity had become my greatest ally over the years, and I didn’t even know it. I decided to take all of my childhood pain and collect the broken shards, polish them up, and glue them back together. I wrote a children’s book called “Peanut Butter Soup“, which highlights bullying in schools, as well as underlines such things as being kind to obese people and the elderly. It’s a book about love, simply put. I wanted a tool to be able to reach kids on their levels, and plant some good seeds while I’m at it.
Two years ago I was invited to the elementary school that I went to. I was asked to read to the kids, along with the mayor. (The mayor!) It was “Read Across America” week, and I could hardly believe that I was in the very school I was bullied in, reading to the children of the people who bullied me! What an honour to be able to reach out to their very children, and teach them not to do what some of their parents had done. Yes, it was a terrific honour.
I also enrolled myself at a University so that I could teach myself how to be my own therapist. I grew tired of being the “helpless patient”. I wanted to be the one to actually help others: I’ve been through enough to have gathered the necessary ammunition on the experience side, now I needed to strengthen my theoretical foundation. I’ve been studying Behavioral Sciences and Substance Abuse for the past three and a half years now. I can hardly believe that I’m only a few short classes away from getting my degree and certification. I have been immersed in photography for the past decade (published), and eventually, I would like to develop a Photo Therapy program that marries therapy and photography so that others can learn to better express themselves in a healthy and therapeutic way.
Life has been a wild ride!
Yes, by all accounts, I should have been a statistic. I should have fallen through the cracks of society and shriveled up and died. But I am a fighter, and a survivor. I now know that I have a purpose, and a calling.
As we all do.