Feb 1, 2021
An estimated 70 percent of adults in the United
States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their
lives. Furthermore, up to 20 percent of these people go on to
develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Also, an estimated 5
percent of Americans, more than 13 million people, have PTSD at any
Amy Oestreicher was one of them. So, what happens
when an ordinary teenager has to turn into a warrior just to
survive? And can the journey through PTSD really become an
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 it 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 roadmap where none existed.
Amy’s 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. Amy’s journey is
ultimately a celebration of ordinary and extraordinary challenges
In this interview, Amy shares her struggles and
discoveries living with both visible and invisible illness. In
addition, she talks about the tremendous gifts to be reaped from
trauma. Also, she shares lessons which have illuminated her path,
and how these gifts can be discovered as a unique, yet universal
way to navigate any kind of uncertainty.
- First Amy talks about her upcoming audio book.
- Then Emily asks Amy to tell her story.
- Amy had her life planned out. She applied to 17
- She loved the world of theater.
- When she was 17, her mentor started abusing
- Amy told her mother abut the abuse in April of her
senior year in High School.
- Shortly after that, Amy had a really bad stomach
ache and her father took her to the hospital.
- Amy’s stomach exploded to the ceiling of the
- Her parents were told Amy wouldn't make it through
- Months later Amy woke up from a coma.
- She was told she wasn't going to
- Furthermore, Amy didn't have a stomach and the
doctors didn't know when she'd ever be able to eat or drink
- Amy talks about her recovery in the Intensive Care
- It took 7 years and 28 surgeries before Amy could
eat and drink but she still doesn’t have a stomach.
- Next Amy talks abut the challenges of being home
and not being able to eat or drink.
- Consequently, Amy learned how to be creative in the
- Also, she discovered that she focused on what she
- Amy’s memoir is about how creativity saved her
- Her first creation was a chocolate business.
- Next, she persuaded her parents to let her audition
for the play Oliver.
- And she ended up getting the lead role.
- Creativity was Amy’s safe container where she could
do what she loved and be someone other than who she became
- She took it one day at a time with no timeline in
- Also, she got through by being in the moment and
- Amy presents at surgical conferences and talks to
doctors to educate them on the psychological impacts of
- And, she doesn't know anyone else who has been
through what she experienced.
- Amy talks about how her family supported her.
- Her brother kept a journal while he was in the ICU
with her for 72 days.
- And Amy used that journal to write a play about how
trauma affects a family.
- When she was finally able to eat, the food
unexpectedly fueled her memories.
- She went to college at age 25.
- In college, Amy learned how the mind and body are
connected and wrote a paper on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Amy calls herself a "Detourist" and Emily asks Amy
to talk about the detours in her life.
- Gutless and Grateful is a musical Amy wrote about
- She discovered that what happened to her was a
- Trust your detour as you go through it one step at
- We need community support when we heal and we get
that by not playing the victim and by focusing on "what can we do
- Detours are important for college students and Amy
- Discovering the Hero's Journey helped Amy discover
- Gratitude was key to Amy's recovery.
- Also, gratitude helped Amy figure out her
- Amy discovered painting after her 13th
- Amy has give 4 TED Talks and the links are in the
- Emily and Amy talk about how everyone is an
- Amy admits she needs to take time to breathe and
appreciate what she's accomplished.
- Emily asks Amy if she's always so positive.
- Amy considers herself a very present
- Then she talks about her grieving process.
- Amy adds a tear to every one of her paintings to
depict that even with the joy, there is sadness.
- Focusing on each individual moment got Amy
- Emily and Amy discuss the importance of sharing
your story when you're ready.
- Finally, this COVID time is a detour for all of
- And there are resources on Amy’s website for
resilience and a section for others to share their detour