Hi, and welcome to the MHA Spot. I’m Dr. Janelle Louis, ND. I’m the author of Optimize Your Body, Heal Your Mind, the developer of the P7 Protocol™ for integrated mental wellness, a mental health advocate, and a licensed naturopathic doctor. While I treat a variety of health concerns in my private practice, I specialize in educating and empowering women who have experienced adversity during childhood to take ownership of their health and overcome their predispositions, so that they can have more energy and improved mood, raise physically and emotionally healthy children, and live up to their fullest potential.
Here’s My Story
I was born and partially raised on the beautiful island of Trinidad, in the Caribbean. I spent my first seven years of life there. By the time I was born, my mom had been experiencing infidelity in her marriage and she was struggling with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks as a result.
In fact, my siblings and I would frequently find my mother on her bed crying and we’d ask,
"Mommy, why is daddy making you cry?"
I’m sure in the beginning we asked why our mom was crying, but, after a while, it happened so frequently that we just knew.
I remember my grandmother coming over to sponge-bathe my occasionally bed-ridden mother and to wash her hair using a bedpan, because she was so debilitated by her anxiety, depression, and panic attacks that she couldn’t do much for herself. At times, when my mother would stand up to go to the bathroom, her heart would start racing. She would start feeling nauseous. She would experience difficulty breathing. And she would be overcome by the feeling of intense panic. In those moments, she was absolutely certain that she would die. But she didn’t.
You see, my mom was a fighter.
Some of my earliest memories of Trinidad consist of me power-walking up the hill adjacent to our house alongside my brother, my sister, and my mom as we chanted, “I must, I must, I must improve my health.” In spite of all of the emotional stressors that came my mom’s way, she never stopped fighting. My mom was determined to do whatever it took to regain her physical, mental, spiritual, and social wellbeing, in spite of her stressful circumstances.
She fought until she was able to move to the United States, divorce my father, and, although the path there was winding and obstacle-ridden, she was eventually able to overcome her anxiety, depression, and panic attacks and to come off of all three of the psychotropic medications that she had been prescribed. Today, my mom does not take any psych meds.
While in medical school, I was able to help my mom to support her mental wellness and a healthy stress response using supplements, which were very beneficial to her in her time of need. But wellness is progressive and I’m proud to announce that my mom does not take them very often at this point because she simply does not need them on a daily basis anymore. Today, I thank God that given the level of stress she is under, my mom’s mental health is superb. She is able to handle stress that comes her way in a healthy manner. She has a positive outlook. She is happily remarried. And I consider her to be a survivor.
Although my mom is doing well emotionally, her experience definitely impacted me.
In fact, I can honestly say that my parents’ relationship helped shape me into the person I am today. It has helped me to become the compassionate and caring doctor that I am, but it has also had less desirable effects.
You see, although I only lived with both my mother and biological father for my first seven years of life, my environment affected me.
I was a year and a half when my little sister was born. My mom was dealing with a lot in her struggle with anxiety and depression at the time, so she had to make some important decisions about parenting. She decided that since I was a toddler now, I could begin drinking from a sippy-cup instead of a bottle, sleeping in a bed instead of in my crib, walking by myself instead of being carried, etc. That way, she’d still be able to parent all three of her children and give the new baby the attention she needed.
Because I was so young, I couldn’t understand why my mom was making all of these changes so suddenly and why she was directing all of the attention that I felt I still needed towards this new baby. I felt incredibly sad and even replaced. I became extremely sensitive and I cried very frequently for the majority of my childhood.
I remember sitting on my mom’s dresser at age 4, looking into the mirror. My mom was lying on her bed, still trying to manage her own mental health. My brother and sister were teasing me, and I remember shouting at them, “Do you all want me to kill myself?!”
My mom began to panic. What mother wouldn’t if their four-year-old baby said something like that? She was so shocked and had no idea what to do, so she just shouted at me, “Don’t ever let me hear you say that again!” Of course, I misinterpreted her concern for anger and again, I felt rejected and hurt.
In speaking with my mom about this incident years later, she confirmed that she had no idea where I, as a four-year-old child, had learned the concept of suicide. She was so depressed that she had wished for death many times during her pregnancy with me, but she had never expressed those sentiments to me or in my presence.
My mom told me that, had she understood prenatal and maternal influences, and the fact that adverse childhood experiences increase the risk for mental and physical health concerns, she would've done things differently.
She would have done whatever it took to shield her children from exposure to the stressful environment in which we were raised during our early years and to protect us from the increased risk that we now carry for anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, cardiovascular disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and the list goes on.
When I heard my mom say these words, “I would do whatever it took,” it had an effect on me.
You see, whenever my mom determines to do something, she does it. Just like she made up her mind to regain her health after her initial setback and accomplished it, I knew that the words my mom was saying were true. Had she realized the effect that our environment would have on us, as her children, she would have done things differently.
This conversation really solidified my mission to continue to learn everything I could about ACEs so I could break the cycle in my own life, for myself and for my wonderful son, and so that I could empower other women, women like me, who were affected by ACEs to break the cycles in their own lives.
I realized that many women are like my mom, and that, if only they understood the effects of ACEs on themselves and on their children, they would do everything within their power to overcome their predispositions and to provide a better environment, a better world, for themselves and for their children.
I’m on a mission to educate as many women as possible about the effects of adversity during childhood, and that’s why I created the MHA Spot.
Our mission at the MHA Spot is simple.
✓ Educate women about the effects of ACEs so that they can break the cycles in their own lives and make better choices for themselves and for their children.
✓ Empower them with the tools and skills they need to overcome their increased risk and to address the health concerns that they are at increased for as a result of having experienced ACEs, such as mental health concerns, reproductive concerns, and autoimmune and cardiovascular disease.
✓ Enlighten them so that they realize that, in spite of their ACEs, they can live life on their own terms. They can raise physically healthy and emotionally resilient children. They can rise above their past and present circumstances. And they can live their healthiest and best lives now.
If you are ready to join our mission, your next step is to choose one of the options below.