Hi. I’m Jessica Bolen. This is me with my eldest daughter Annalee Grace. A single snapshot can make a pretty picture out of an instant. But life for me isn’t always pretty. I fight battles for my health and wellness that have manifested themselves over the years as chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, asthma, celiac disease, chronic headaches, dysfunctional relationships, and self loathing. (That’s probably just scratching the surface.)
A classic overachiever, I’ve always pushed myself beyond what anyone else required of me. I’ve taken every hat I’ve ever worn and turned it into a mandate. To outperform myself in every way possible. I’m the mom who breastfed and cloth-diapered my firstborn (the second one was a Huggies baby lol), showed up as worship leader for worship practice with my secondborn newborn baby in a kangaroo carrier, homeschooled, held down up to three part time jobs at a time, or one full time job, while managing a household. I graduated summa cum laude from Oral Roberts University with a degree in Psychology. Worked a handful of years in case management with chronically mentally ill adolescents and adults. And then moved into marketing and communications for Christian non-profits.
After an eighteen year marriage to my children’s father I woke up one day a divorced woman. About six months after the divorce was final I noticed I had balding patches on my head. And I had nearly every symptom of numerous dreaded diseases. Multiple tests and labwork came back negative. I was awaiting news on the phone from my doctor about some lab results. She told me everything looked normal. And I hit rock bottom. I hung up the phone with the biggest weight on my chest and lump in my throat. Why would “good news” lead to such despair? For me, it meant there was another cause for my illness that I was going to have to find. And I was tired. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically exhausted.
In the months after my divorce I was working full time (as usual), struggling to make ends meet. The level of stress was unprecedented as I saw my children through the crisis of my separation from their father. I was working, managing my household, trying to help my children cope and heal, and I was ill. Fear that I was going to get sicker and be unable to care properly for my children gripped me. I knew I had to get well. Not just well by the lab results standards, but well inside.
God had also been dealing with me about my vocation. I was doing marketing contract work but God was preparing me to step out to work not for someone else’s kingdom, but for His. One night, in what was like a fluke, I saw christianwomanhealth.com domain was for sale. So I bought it. I knew that my health journey was going to be a story to tell and I knew that there are so many women like me. So many women who don’t feel well, who aren’t well, who can’t find the answers they need to get well, and yet who are expected to provide for their families just the same.
Buying the domain for this site is nothing like a fluke, though. It’s God’s perfect plan and timing coming to fruition for me and for you.
My eldest daughter Annalee Grace is now 15. She’s grown up in a loving, Christian household; grown up in church. And yet even at her young age, she was experiencing health issues that had gone undiagnosed for years. Strange swelling episodes of various parts of her body. We’d had labwork done and seen many specialists. They all said she looked well, even when there was clearly something very wrong. They could not diagnose the problem. She’s also struggled with prolonged episodes of insomnia, depression and anxiety.
I love my daughter and I knew that in order to be able to help her on her journey, I was going to need to take care of myself. So we could find the answers together. So I would have the energy to help her find her answers.
The day I emailed my doctor was a turning point for me. I told her that even though she had recommended a new road of tests, that I was going to look elsewhere for health. I was going to seek emotional wellness and pursue that before turning again to round upon round of blood tests. I just knew that’s the direction God was leading me. I cringed when I saw the reply from the doc come in. As I opened it, I expected to see disbelief and discredit in that email. Instead, she effectively “blessed” me on my journey. She said she understood and agreed that perhaps the answer for me was found in emotional healing and wellness.
That sealed the deal.
I invited Annalee to be my partner on this journey. There’s so much we can learn from our youth. I’m thrilled to have her perspectives, her gifts, her skills, and her experiences contributing to christianwomanhealth.com. I’m grateful she said “yes.”
I’ve stopped losing my hair. For me, that’s huge! As Annalee and I work on christianwomanhealth.com, we’re getting better together. We haven’t arrived. But that’s not the point. It’s the journey, not the destination that matters. We’d so love to share our journey with you. It’s our mantra that no woman be left behind.
We’ve got people to love, SO LET’S GO.