That’s me, Haley.
I’ve been on a healing journey for what feels like my entire life: healing from childhood trauma, disordered eating, anxiety, depression, gut issues, sexual pain, chronic pelvic pain…. seriously, just name a symptom — and I’ve probably had it!
“Officially,” I say that my mental health journey began in high school. At the age of 15, I became depressed for the first time. Looking back, my mom and I like to laugh about all the little signs of anxiety that followed me throughout my llife — like the time a stranger had to hold my hand on the escalator because I was too scared to meet my mom at the bottom. (True story.)
In college, I started therapy and medication — and just when I thought I was feeling like myself again, my body had other plans. When I stopped talking to my dad as a senior in college, trauma took its toll on my digestion. I became underweight and afraid to eat (for fear of triggering symptoms). For months, I endured without knowing what was wrong with me, until stabbing abdominal pain sent me to the emergency room on my winter break with my boyfriend in 2019. After that, a gastroenterologist scoped me from head to toe and, upon finding nothing, declared that I had irritable bowel syndrome.
I know what you’re probably thinking: Hmm, doesn’t that seem suspiciously fast for a diagnosis? I thought so, too. Which is why I kept pushing. I ditched my sexist GI doctor after I overheard him complaining about me to one of the nurses behind closed doors, and, connecting my pain to a history of ovarian cysts, visited a gynecologist for an ultrasound. The ultrasound turned up more cysts and a retroverted uterus, but no answers. In fact, answers eluded me for months, until I found my way to the Center for Endometriosis and Chronic Pelvic Pain at Cleveland Clinic.
There, I was diagnosed with vulvodynia and suspected endometriosis. Endo wound up being the glue that held all my odd symptoms together, from the digestive troubles that began in college, to the lifelong period pain that made me vomit, nearly faint, and go on the pill at age 15. I am now scheduled for a diagnostic laparoscopy in January 2021, and eagerly anticipating a long stretch of time with no visits to the doctor’s office. (What a novel idea!)
Only, there was one problem: as relieved as I was to know what was causing my physical symptoms, I was still in emotional turmoil. Childhood, and now medical, trauma took over my brain, until it was my past, rather than my present, sitting in the driver’s seat. For years, I took on the “sick girl” label, until it very nearly consumed the essence of who I was. I wandered aimlessly between careers without a sense of purpose or direction, taking on any freelance client who would have me in an attempt to keep my financial well-being afloat. Obsessively researching and reading about endometriosis became my greatest and only hobby, on the days I even had time for hobbies with my workaholic tendencies. For a month and a half, I wound up in an intensive outpatient program (mainly because I was unwilling to be hospitalized) due to suicidal ideation and all-consuming depression and anxiety.
When I realized how much of my life I had given up to my mental and physical ailments, I knew I needed to find my way back to myself the only way I knew how: by telling my story, and by helping others heal.
Today, I am actively working toward a future that I can be proud of, one where I am so much more than a “professional patient.” I am what I like to call “chronically creative,” picking up hobbies from bullet journaling to pen pal writing, to selling stickers on Etsy. I am applying to graduate schools for my Master’s in Social Work, in order to become a licensed trauma therapist. I rebranded my freelance business from Millennial Pink Media to Flow Media to reflect my deep interest in mental and physical healing. I started volunteering with mental health organizations that put me in the driver’s seat, allowing me to grow from my past. And, most powerfully of all, I found a therapist who is slowly but surely teaching me to find my voice again, and to heal from the thread of trauma that weaves all the different aspects of my life together.
Alongside that trauma, writing has always been the second thread that bound my life together. As a child, I used to believe I would be a fiction author. Now, my passion for writing looks like putting my experiences and advice into words — like using my voice, and my knowledge, to help others heal. Whether it’s offering you an escape from stress to read about my latest creative endeavor, or teaching you a new therapeutic technique I’ve learned in my experience as a patient and professional, Healing with Haley is here to help you feel whole again, the same way that writing has always made me feel.
- I have lived in three states: Massachusetts, Ohio, and Rhode Island.
- I graduated from Boston University in three years, with a combination of summer schooling and AP credit.
- My boyfriend, David, and I met on Tinder my second year of college. I didn’t know he lived in Cleveland — not Boston, where I lived — when we met.
- The first thing I did when I graduated college (after moving in with David) was adopt a dog. We named him Chandler, after the character in Friends!
- Right after I turned 19, I got jury duty three times in the span of six months. My parents are divorced, so I got notices sent to both of my parents’ addresses, and my college apartment.
- When I was little, I once stood in line behind Mitchell Musso (Oliver from Hannah Montana) at Starbucks. I waited until he left to tell my mom. She said, “Why didn’t you ask for a picture?!” ….I ask myself that same question pretty much every day.