Hey, y'all! We are so excited to share with you our Wednesday Warrior for this week. Those who know Ashlie know she is a light for many. You see it in the way she makes sure everyone around feel accepted and heard, in how she chooses to step outside of her comfort zone, in how she encourages self-love. Luckily, we've gotten to hear more and more!
She is bold, encouraging, and a world-changer in how she practices and challenges those around her to radical self-love. In hearing how much she's overcome to get to where she is today, you can't help but feel inspired.
I am Southern-California born and raised. Today I live in Huntington Beach, which is not far from parents but living here still allows me to be independent. I love decorating and am very outdoorsy; I enjoy paddleboarding, surfing, yoga, and boxing. I love creating a space/environment that is enjoyable for family and friends. My family and friends tell me that I am someone who creates a safe and inviting space for everyone. I used to not always be like that. I used to be very insecure of who I was and allowed those insecurities to take over me. It wasn’t until I lost my hair that I had a new perspective on confidence and who I am.
❓What was the hardest part of your medical journey that you had to overcome?
I have Hashimoto’s disease which is an autoimmune disease that damages the thyroid gland. This means that my thyroid will decrease over time, and I need to take synthetic supplements. I’ve always had this disease but it didn’t surface until I was 22.
In July 2012, I went on a mission trip and had some odd hair loss. When I finally went overseas, this was when the hair loss started to become very evident to me. Most people couldn’t tell but those close to me could. That part was the hardest. When you’re younger, you get prized for your freckles or colored eyes. That for me was my long luscious hair. Many have this mantra over you when you are younger, and ironically, once that is lost, you don’t find that you may not know your sense of self anymore. But that is just who we are; we are always asking for affirmation from others. And for me, my identity wasn’t there anymore when all of that was gone, and I struggled to find myself as someone who is beautiful and loved. This loss in identity had led me to not feeling like myself, not being myself, declining invitations, and really living in my own world.
However, in the overcoming, therapy has been amazing and has helped me grow so much in my confidence and self-awareness. Today, my goal in my life to lessen the self insecurity of others.
❓How do you live beyond your medical condition? What motivates you to live beyond it?
A great support system. I am very thankful for family and friends. You need the kind of people who don’t give up on you and think you’re worth it. I’m a very independent person, but lowering my self-pride helped me see the importance of reaching out to others whenever I needed help. The two people that have made a big impact on my life are first, my mom: in the thick of it all, when I wouldn’t wanna get up, she would be there for me when I was at my lowest. She’s my rock. Ellen: my first roommate. She was the one who showed me that it’s not worth it caring what others think. She showed me what could be possible when I stop caring and choose to step out of my comfort zone. She was my constant cheerleader. Then my best friend Dina: we’ve known each other for 10 years and she knew me prior to all of this. Deena has always been there to push me to my fullest potential.
In having a great support system, which helps me to live beyond my medical condition is also being my own cheerleader. Everyone can be there for you, but you have to shift your mentality to be able to truly know who you are and live it out. Once you establish a good support system and establish your own self-worth, you are able to push through those bad days.
I wore a wig for almost 2 years. This was all until I met my friend, Marissa. She was someone I introduced to the church I was attending at the welcome table at my church. Once we became friends out of nowhere, she one day came up to me and told me that she was blown away by my spirit. She said, “My husband told me about your story, and I want to share it on my blog.” I was known by many in the church community and was in a new dating relationship at the time. With that, I didn’t want everyone knowing about my story, so I kindly declined to say I wasn’t ready. Fast forward a year later, Marissa tells me she thinks I’m ready to share.
So over a phone call on a drive, I told Marissa my story. In the end, she told me that my story took her breath away and started to tear up. She told me my story was incredible and that people needed to hear it. I was still once again hesitant but eventually decided to share in a written entry on her blog. A major point that I missed when I did this was that when you tag someone on your Facebook post, your friends and followers see your tagged post as well. I woke up the next day to a flood of love in Instagram and Facebook messages, texts, emails. All of this showed me how strong I can be and the power I have been given with my story.
Everyone has a story, but if you choose not to share it or think that your story is not good enough, remember that you can change lives. In sharing my story, I’ve been given opportunities, collabs, people who have reached out to me. I have no words to describe it all. All I know is that I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
❓What would you say to others who are walking through similar medical journeys?
1. Be an advocate.
2. Find a doctor that cares. I went the all-natural route looking for a doctor that works for me (naturopathic doctors) starting out, and that was extremely difficult. I once was referred by a doctor to a dermatologist who gave me 50 steroid shots in my skull over the course of 6 months, ouch. I had doctors who did tests on me, experiment, to say the least. It’s very important that you find a doctor who cares. I was able to find an OBGYN who also has Hashimoto’s disease as I. She has fought for me to find healing and health.
3. Do things that remind you of what life looks like. I think one of my mountain top moments was standing at the top of the Mountains of Moher in Ireland. That made me feel once again alive.
❓As a community, how can we help and support you?
Know that you don’t know what people are going through. Criticism in any form can be detrimental at people’s lowest points. Shower others with love and support, and put yourself in people’s shoes.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
The biggest takeaway is to embrace yourself and don’t let others' opinions affect who you are. Be your most authentic self. Kick butt at being you.