who & why
own your story. share your story. only beautiful things will come your way.
Rocks with Sass all began as a creative outlet for myself during a nasty Crohn's Disease flare. Cooped up in my little one bedroom apartment I started collecting crystals and turning them into wearable art. It wasn't long before my hobby turned into a platform for me to share my story with other IBD sufferers. Intrigued? Want to hear the whole story? Well here we go...
In 2009 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I have always had stomach issues, but I honestly thought it was because I was lactose intolerant and enjoyed ranch dressing a little too much. Through my adolescence doctors agreed, too much stress and ranch.
While studying fashion design in New York City my health quickly took a nosedive. I went from the healthiest weight of my life to 78 pounds in 6 short weeks. Deep down I knew something was wrong, but refused to admit it. My dad calls me “Billy Badass” for a reason. “Sometimes Amanda, you’re a little too strong for your own good.” I returned home for the Thanksgiving holiday and my parents sat me down to what felt like an intervention. It was time to go to the hospital.
After switching medications a few times, being released, readmitted and ridiculous amount of tests the verdict was in: Crohn’s Disease. As my doctors were scheduling my surgery, I was trying to find a flight back to NYC. The denial was real.
After 30 days in the hospital and a successful surgery I felt like I was being released back into the world with my life broken into pieces that I had no idea how to put back together. I was forced to put my schooling on hold for nine long months and would no longer graduate on time with my friends. As much as I wanted to go back, the truth was I could barely make it up a flight of stairs. I had no control over my life, body, or emotions.
Trying to prove my strength, I kept everything bottled up inside until I would explode with tears. And then I would do it all over again. Thankfully I had an amazing support system of family and friends who took every opportunity to remind me of who I am: A FIGHTER. It may have taken them a few years to get through my thick skull, but I’ve learned even as a fighter, its ok to ask for help, be vulnerable, and cry.
After graduating, I went on to design for Abercrombie & Fitch. I loved my job! I was traveling all over the world, sketching and playing with sequins. It was a dream come true, but after one year my Crohn’s started to flare up. I was unable to eat solid foods without extreme pain, so I stuck with soup and smoothies and kept trucking along at work. I had an MRI to appease my parents and soon the doctor called asking where I was - at work (duh). He was flabbergasted, with the amount of inflammation I had he told me I needed to go to the hospital immediately. After a few days in the hospital and adding Humira injections to my regimen I was back at it during the day. At night and on weekends I would curl up on the couch and make jewelry which later turned into Rocks with Sass.
3 years after joining the Abercrombie family the dream began to fade and the corporate world of high stress and strict schedules began to take over. I was working 12 hour days and quickly burning out. I was down to 80 pounds, and struggling to be happy. At that point, I felt as if I didn’t have a choice. I needed to resign and spend the next year focusing on my well-being. It took me 5 long years to understand I only have this one body. The healing process is one of ups and downs, but if you don’t listen to the silent cues you’ll just end up running yourself into the ground. Be stubborn with your goals, hopes and dreams, but not with your health. Something I remind myself everyday.
It has been a little over a year now since I’ve traded the corporate life for happiness. I gave myself one year of no expectations other than to get healthy and happy. Thankfully, part of my happiness comes from Rocks with Sass. I spend my days creating and sharing little droplets of encouragement for others along the way. I ﬁnd it sad that I waited until my breaking point to make the decision to put myself ﬁrst, but everyone has their own path and I feel so incredibly blessed to be on this one.
To all my IBD fighters out there, know its ok to feel angry, sad, and helpless all at the same time. I’m here to remind you there is a plan! The physical and emotional pain you feel now is not for nothing. You are a survivor, a fighter and you will get through this. When you come out the other side you won't be the person you once were. Trust your struggle. Own your story. Share your story. Only beautiful things will come your way.