I was raised in Charleston, Illinois--a small, rural college town where I stayed to earn bachelor's and master's degrees from the biological sciences department at Eastern Illinois University. I received my Ph.D. in neuroscience from Michigan State University where I currently research the effects of traumatic stress on the brain, with particular focus on how hormones, sex/gender, and early-life developmental processes influence how individuals respond to trauma.
After years of struggling with anxiety, alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, and suicidality, I began neuroscience research to gain a better understanding of my own life. I learned in my first year of the program that I'd been suffering from PTSD for more than 8 years as a result of surviving rape. I'd only heard of PTSD in relation to military veterans, and I set out to learn more about how other types of trauma can affect a person, myself included. What I found was a drive to help other people living with PTSD.
I wrote a memoir of my journey from trauma through healing and self-published the book Shadow Brain: A Neuroscientist's Journey Through PTSD and Womanhood on February 17, 2015. Just a few weeks later, I signed a contract with Booktrope Publishers to release an expanded version of Shadow Brain. The result was Fortitude: A PTSD Memoir, released on September 30th, 2015.
In conjunction with my scientific knowledge of the effects of trauma, I relentlessly share my own story of rape, abuse, and addiction to ensure that all victims of trauma receive the treatment and respect they deserve and to provide hope to anyone hiding in a closet. I live in Michigan with my two rambunctious dogs.