I don't know how many people learn about the revolutionary Dorothea Dix in school any more, but for people involved with mental health advocacy, she is a shining light and one of the great women of history. It is poignant for me that I will be spending the last three days of Women's History Month with the modern-day Dorothea Dix, Elyn Saks of the USC Gould School of Law. We will be immersed in collaboration and study at the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy and Ethics, where Elyn is changing history and shattering expectations with her life and work.
These two shining stars carry on a tradition of advocacy that unites them across the centuries. When I stop and think about this incredible legacy, it draws my attention and awareness to how many modern day female leaders have revolutionized the holistic health of women and have had a direct effect on my own life.
I get asked all the time, 'With your mental health history, what is your current treatment and diagnosis?" I have written before about my history with brain health challenges, with diagnoses given to me when I was young that are usually considered chronic. But my history has not become my reality, so I like to turn that question around and ask, "Do I have a brain that functions 'normally'? No, I say, but does anyone?'
Finding my way to that perspective owes so much to modern medicine when I was in my teens and a remarkable litany of teachers, healers, and revolutionary leaders. Their work changed my DNA, my health history, and my whole life trajectory. For Women's History Month, I want to publicly honor them for their radical work in bringing Flawless health to the world:
The final leg of my journey in ending my challenges with anorexia came through the intensive Nia White Belt training with Debbie Rosas. I learned how to tune in to sensation in my body at a cellular level, to stop thinking "no pain no gain." I accepted that there is truly no gain if there is no self compassion, which set the foundation for my studies a few months later with the revolutionary change maker Regena Thomashauer.
Regena contributes to changing the paradigm of health by teaching women how to express all their emotions, shed self-hatred and doubt, and live healthy, happy lives in every area -- work, family, spirituality, physical health, and emotional wellbeing.
I have been studying with Regena for about a decade. She has taught me how to create a life-based on authentic expression of emotions and pleasure -- and to understand that there is a direct correlation between the light and the dark in our lives. The tools in her toolkit are powerful antidotes to women's lives today, which are so often a breeding ground for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and general discontent.
Barbara specializes in financial education for women. From her body of work, I have learned how to stand for my value, which has completely revolutionized my relationship with money. As a result of clarity about my work and finances, abundance flows to me in all areas of my life.
Christiane Northrup, M.D.
In Regena's Mastery course, we had the incredibly lucky experience to study with Dr. Northrup, a pioneer in women's health who specializes in women over 40. Her work has been very informative and healing for me during this time of intense change in my body -- after 45 where I have seen shifts in my anxiety levels, insomnia, and patterns of weight gain. I have been able to rise to these body image and health challenges with the support of Christiane's brilliant work.
Off the Mat Into the World
In this yoga leadership training, Hala Khouri, Seane Corn, and Suzanne Sterling use music, ritual, yoga, somatic therapy and thoughtful study to achieve an almost unimaginable release of trauma and grief. I cried in this training to the point where I was almost hyperventilating, but it was so healing -- soul cleansing and very important for changing patterns that no longer serve me.
I experienced extreme mental health challenges as a young adult, some of them life-threatening. Even after many hospitalizations and years of treatment, I had some surprising regression in my 30s. Now, at least every day, I stop and feel a moment of gratitude for these women and their work as I celebrate the radical transformation in my life from studying with them.
They changed my history and they are changing the world for the rest of us. This is a powerful sisterhood that I hope every women reading this will join to carry on a legacy of hope for all women everywhere as we model holistic health for our daughters, our girls... our future.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
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