What happens when an ordinary teenager has to turn into a warrior just to survive? And can the journey through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder really become an “adventure?”
Amy had ambitious plans for college and a Broadway career, until her stomach exploded the week before her senior prom. Months later, she awoke from a coma to learn that she might never be able to eat or drink again. After years on IV nutrition, her first bite of food awakened her senses to life's ordinary miracles but also brought back memories of being sexually abused by a trusted mentor for months, just before the unexpected rush to the emergency room that fateful Passover night.
With determination, imagination, relentless resilience, and an inner “hunger” for life, Amy created a road map where none existed. Her journey through life's unthinkable detours is nothing short of miraculous, but the creative path to healing she forged is accessible to anyone. As a survivor—and “thriver”—of abuse and extensive medical trauma, Amy discovered sources of resilience she didn’t know she had but it turns out we all possess.
In this book, she creates a tapestry made from each of each thread of her journey, empowering others to find gratitude in every setback and discover their own infinite inner strength. Amy’s search for “home” proves to be the greatest test of cultivating resilience after near-death, and reclaiming identity after both sexual assault and medical trauma. Amy’s journey is ultimately a celebration of ordinary and extraordinary challenges and miracles.
If you've been following my book reviews or personal writing, you will know I am strongly drawn to the stories of others. Reality TV is a MEH for me. It's listening to real people share their real stories that stirs my imagination and gives me goosebumps. So when I heard about My Beautiful Detour, I just had to read it.
The book starts by showing us the positive, bright, musically talented, over-the-top, buoyant child and then teen Amy was. Life was good and she had her future clearly mapped out in her mind. Then 2 things happened that turned her world upside down. In her last years of high school, she was sexually abused by a trusted vocal mentor. Bottling all her anger and anguish up inside, she hid her secret from everyone. Life became very grey and dark. Then one day her stomach exploded. Literally. That she survived, went on to thrive, and share her story with the world is astonishing.
I think one of the keys to her being alive today was her family. They rallied around her and were always by her side in the hospital, alert eyes carefully watching and questioning, willing do whatever it took in support. They never gave up. As I continued to read, I came to feel her strong spirit and deep religious beliefs were also key to her recovery.
To fill the long hours of isolation, Amy journaled, painted, and even created and performed a person play based on her experiences. Amy used each to help her deal with the trauma of the difficult journey she was on and the emotions that arose as she began to slowly reclaim her life and deal with the "detour" that had changed her path. Therapy also played a role in her emotional recovery.
My Beautiful Detour is an inspirational story of finding your way when the future is not clear or even bright, of using the tools of art to help with the healing process and of the impact sharing what you've learned can have on others who are struggling.
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AMY OESTREICHER is an international keynote speaker, Huffington Post columnist, actor, artist, songwriter, playwright, Audie Award-nominated PSTD peer-to-peer specialist, and author. A survivor of extensive medical trauma, including 27 surgeries, and sexual assault, she shares her life story and creative strategies with therapists, medical professionals, patients, sexual abuse victims, and general audiences nationwide. Creator of the #LoveMyDetour movement to inspire individuals to thrive because of, rather than in spite of, obstacles, she has been featured on the Today show, delivered three TEDx talks, and performed her one-woman musical, Gutless & Grateful, in more than 200 venues across the country. She is also a passionate voice in the ostomy community and presents narrative medicine workshops.
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