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My Health & Wellness Journey

My interest in health & wellness started at a young age. At age 10, I was experiencing awful stomach pains and after seeing a couple of doctors, I was diagnosed with an ulcer. It’s fairly common, but what I would come to learn 10+ years later is that ulcers are primarily caused by stress (or the H. Pylori bacteria, which mine was not).

I decide to stop eating red meat at the age of 11 following a not-so-great experience with a cheeseburger at the Kane County Fair.

Let’s be honest, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that got sick that day from fair food.

Regardless, I remember this moment as the first of many signs from the universe that I needed to make some changes to better my health and well-being.

Over the next 10 years, despite being active and eating relatively healthy, I had pneumonia 3 times, Scarlet Fever, saw 3 different doctors and had multiple scopes trying to figure out my “stomach issues”. I was told I had GERD, IBS, “un-diagnosable chronic gastric pain” and “a sensitive stomach”.

I was actually told to only eat white bread, rice, and drink ginger ale “whenever I felt sick.”

12 different prescriptions, 50 bottles of Zantac & a million Mylantas later, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder – something I’ve come to realize has been the root of many, MANY health issues for me. 

Typing this, I feel slightly uncomfortable using the words “diagnosed” and “disorder”. They seem like a couple of extreme word choices, especially considering that anxiety is normal and something everyone feels, right?

It’s true that anxiety is common. Nearly everyone experiences some form of anxiety at some point in their life, nearly 40 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and 1 in 13 people globally suffer from anxiety.* 

So, why is it something that no one wants to talk about? Why, when my mom suggested I see a therapist for the first time when I was 19 years old, did I tell her she was crazy (nice choice of words, Allie), run back into my room and hide under the covers?

I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, it was a few things.

I didn’t want something to be wrong with me.

If something was wrong with me, I could fix it myself. (Huge roadblock in my life that I’ll delve into another day.)

Mental illness is only something “crazy” people have and I wasn’t “crazy”.

I spent months suffering through my anxiety before I finally decided to take my mom’s advice (note to younger self: you should’ve listened to your mom a more than you did. Like, a lot more.)

So, in December 2006 I put on my big girl pants, picked up the phone and [in the privacy of my car where no one could hear me] made an appointment with a doctor.  

That week I had two new prescriptions and my first ever appointment with a therapist – an appointment that I begrudgingly made and showed up to with anxiously bitten nails and a low-hanging head, hoping I could avoid eye contact with my peers.

I felt anxious, embarrassed, defeated, anxious, nauseous, nervous … did I say anxious?

I wish I could give my 19-year old self a hug and tell her how brave she was for taking the first step in improving her life… cause that s@*# ain’t easy.

Fast-forward 12 years later… going on and off of medication, going to therapy and avoiding therapy, landing in the E.R. with panic attacks more times than I care to admit, ending up in a wheelchair on vacation because of a back injury (what I believe was the result of years’ avoidance of self-care)… I’ve realized that you can’t get rid of your anxiety.

(Shout out to my anxiety for giving me the middle finger and laughing in my face every time I tried to ignore and “get rid of it”.)

I’ve realized that [like any adult living in this world and trying to keep it all together] I had have issues that cause a whooole bunch of negative energy – and since I’m the only one that’s living my life, I’ve decided that there’s no room for negative energy because I deserve to live my best life – for me.  

I’ve been working my heart out in therapy over the last two years, and have come to realize that what my path to health, wellness, and living my best life was missing – was self-love.

After a lovely evening with girlfriends spent drinking wine, laughing, opening up and building vision boards, I took some time to get creative with mine, and decided to illustrate everything I wanted to feel and achieve over the next year as branches on a tree – and at the center of it all, what I knew would keep me going onwards and upwards: self-love.

I wrote the following quote, because I couldn’t have said it better myself:

“Perhaps we should love ourselves so fiercely that when others see us, they know exactly how it should be done.” –Rudy Francisco

This is my accountability and journey moving forward into 360° health & wellness, and for me, that’s rooted in self-love.

Throw in my initials, A.L.L, and I introduce – allrootswellness.


*AADA, September 2018 reporting on National Prevalence Data & W.H.O