This is how it began:
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 1999 when I was 23. I did not take care of it and spent the next 12 years generally feeling annoyed by it. Shortly after my diagnosis in 2000 I was introduced to The Fellowship of the Ring. I had heard of The Lord of The Rings, but I knew very little of it. I went with no expectation and left with a hole in my soul and wanting to know everything. I saw it six times in theaters and each night I came home and cried. It made me sad and it created an emptiness in me that I can only describe as loneliness and wanting a sense of purpose. I made a big life choice and left an unhappy marriage. I searched for many years for a filler for the emptiness. I got through my twenties with all the gracefulness of a flying daddy long leg. In 2009 I was settled into an unhappy relationship refusing to leave just because I was unhappy. Afraid of yet another failed relationship on my conscience I stuck it out, praying to God that he would find someone else and leave me. I drowned my failure at life in cheap wine and video games. Christmas 2009 I was given for The Lord of the Rings Online. A massive multiplayer game that turned Middle Earth into a complete explorable world. There I met the one I had spent my life preparing for. He was a dashing Human Captain and I a stunning Elf Hunter. He saved my life from a clan of troll and when I thanked him for his bravery he came back with such a quick wit that I was taken aback. I instantly wanted to talk to him more. The books created in him the emptiness that the movies did for me and together we seemed to fill each others void.
Fortunately for me he was newly divorced and fortunately for him I was extremely miserable, unfortunate for both of us we were a border apart.
We met for the first time four months after talking and I married David five months after that. I said goodbye to my husband two days after we wed and would not see him for another month. Because of the immigration process we spent 2010 most of the time apart. I got really sick. The emotional ups and downs were taking a toll on my body. Being a “single mom” of two I didn’t see any option for taking any sick leave. Looking back there were plenty of resources for me. My “I can do it all by myself” attitude made me blind to it at the time. Eventually though I had lost so much blood I had no choice but to take a week off and then I lost my job three weeks later. I was sick, away from my husband, broke, angst ridden with nothing but time on my hands to sit around and think.
In September of 2010 Advice Over Pie was founded. “Advice” because I knew then that I wanted to help others and “Pie” because Jessiepie is a nickname given to me by my beloved aunts. AOP initially started as anxious ramblings attempting to put together the last 15 years that I had been in survival mode. I had always been highly anxious, slightly bi-polar and overly dramatic, but I never had the opportunity to sit and think about why. So, I wrote. I purged myself of 10 years of hurt and I began to feel better. AOP then took a geekier turn as I wrote about how to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse and the differences between Geeks and Nerds. I quickly got bored and AOP took a hiatus. During that time I went through a lot of therapy and did a lot of research on anxiety, shame, vulnerability etc. I say research because for me I was looking to get to the root of what ailed me rather than mask it with meds. I then wanted to pass my findings onto others.
In 2012, still being sick, I started connecting with members of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease community. A very loving, caring supportive community that I’m very happy to have found. My most popular article was “Top 10 Things a Person with IBD Can Appreciate.” Everyone around me was very sick and talked about nothing but how extremely sick they were. I was so sad for everyone and I wrote articles attempting to lighten the mood. I wrote tips on little things to do to bring joy during those really bad days and ways to relieve anxiety. They all fell on deaf ears. The community I had found didn’t want to read an article about the importance of having love and gratitude in order to heal. They wanted to read stuff they could relate to. The pain, the weakness, crappy doctors, hospital experiences, medicines. I was trying to fit in a place I didn’t belong. I wanted a community where everyone raised each other up and brainstormed about ways to feel better while sick.
Attempting to heal in a negative environment is like walking in mud. If I wanted to heal, be read, and inspired, I had to expand my audience to those who were looking for the same. This meant being vulnerable and allowing myself and my flaws to be seen. By everyone. The thought about being open and honest with everyone who knows me now and in the past was very terrifying. What if someone who knew me at 25 finds out I’m writing “self-help” articles. How will my family take me seriously? Do I have to stop talking about my love for red wine? I had to write like I wasn’t going to be read. My focus is on Self-Love and Self-Talk, because that is what helped me get healthy and it’s what keeps me healthy. The voice in my head beating me up emotionally was keeping me sick. I keep writing about it as therapy and in order to keep me constantly buffed. Buff Beads came to be because that is what helps me keep my self-talk in check. I wear my beads continuously because I constantly need to keep it in check. I used to be embarrassed of Advice Over Pie and its beginnings, but not anymore. I am very proud. It is a momentum of how far I’ve come in just 4 years and it’s a reminder that I’m going to go further and continue to grow and AOP will continue to change. But, the one thing that will always stay the same is the reason I started it in the beginning, because I did not want to be alone in my journey.
Note: February 2014, after what I call my shame shower, I began to heal rapidly. I have now been free of Ulcerative Colitis for a year after 15 years of suffering.