I get it.
I know what it feels like to be in pain. I understand, first-hand, how overwhelming life can be when you feel anxious and sad and simply want to feel better. To feel relief.
I get what it feels like to be scared and to hurt. I understand vulnerability.
I get what it feels like to feel different.
Allow me to share my story of my tumultuous relationship with my own immune system – the very natural bodily system designed to protect me—which began to fail me at age 14.
Shortly after my 14th birthday, I endured autoimmune hair loss (Alopecia), as well as chronic joint pain and other autoimmune problems. I began to experience what it was like to feel different; to be “out of place” in my community. When all the pretty girls in school pulled their long hair into ponytails or messy top-buns, I reached out my hand to stroke the wig concealing my baldness. I felt hideous. I was bloated full of steroids & medications to grow hair and relieve the joint pain. I gained weight and hid beneath my wig. I could feel eyes penetrating me as people wondered why I looked different. I was different, I suppose.
But, aren’t we all in some way or another?
Differences should not subject us to weird gazes or rude comments, but rather should spark discussion and intrigue and help to further develop connections and relationships. This is what it did for me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but these painful experiences had meaning. They created a stronger Caroline. I developed a sense of self-worth much deeper than my appearance. I began to love myself for the friend, strong student, and kind heart that I was. I found myself through the hardship, and through this found the career I now know I was born for.
For the past 13 years my autoimmune health has been a struggle for me, but also an enormous source of strength. Sometimes I have a nearly full head of hair, and sometimes I have almost none. This is a part of my journey that has shaped and molded me into the woman, friend, and therapist I am today.
Of course this is hard for me. I won’t pretend that when the symptoms flare it doesn’t make me sad; it does. But, in many ways I am grateful for my experience. I am who I am today (a person I am proud to be) because of the lessons I learned by allowing myself to be vulnerable, process my feelings, and share with others.
I learned at a very young age to seek and embrace differences and to always be empathetic to the lives and experiences of other people. I learned that beauty is only skin deep, and that people are really beautiful for their hearts, minds, souls and depth -- not their aesthetics. I learned to be compassionate and understanding towards other people’s pain and struggles. I set out to help others heal, grow, and improve their lives. Much of my desire to help others comes from my experiences in working through hurt and evolving into a stronger and more resilient person.
Today, I help young adults and adults develop a stronger sense of self and reduce anxiety and pain. My clients experience relief, feel understood and become empowered to heal and make changes so they can find happiness and meaning in their lives.
I began to love myself for the friend, strong student, and kind heart that I was. I found myself through the hardship, and through this found the career I now know I was born for.