By Sadie All
Nov 29, 2021
Being certain of the “right” life path is a cloudy concept that Jessica Brown, ‘17 struggled with for the majority of her young adult life. But for Jessica, things changed this past April, when she simply followed her gut.
“For the first time in my life I was following this feeling, this instinct that I found my people, I found my calling, I found something that I’m incredibly passionate about,” she said.
Jessica’s newly found lifestyle includes meditation, breathwork and deep reflection. It also includes leaving a seemingly successful career at Mental Health America of West Central Indiana to join a group of local women aiming to open a new wellness center, Illumination Wellness, in Terre Haute’s 12 Points by the end of the year. Illumination Wellness is described as an ‘Alternative & Holistic Health Service.’
“That’s our mission: a healing for all humanity to find their whole self physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually,” Jessica said.
Jessica’s passion is connecting with and helping people. She spent years searching for that avenue and, over time, she also adjusted her definition of success.
“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I may not have fancy stuff or a high-status title, but my heart is full and I’m grateful for my life. And that is what I consider success.”
Still, every success brings trials and tribulations. Beginning school at Indiana State in 2012, Jessica didn’t know which career path to take. She also experienced a sharp learning curve when it came to the technology needed to get ahead.
“Internet was a luxury that we could not afford. When I turned 18, I bought myself an iPhone and I applied to ISU on my phone, which was really hard because all the spaces were really little and I wasn’t used to that kind of technology anyway, so it took me a very long time to apply, but I got accepted.”
Once she got to State, it was no walk in the park, at least at first. Jessica commuted and wasn’t involved in any extracurricular activities. She says her work load often felt burdensome.
“Every semester I would change my major. And I was getting really, really discouraged.”
At the suggestion of an advisor, Jessica took a personality quiz to find a career path. She landed in Communication with a focus on journalism, where the classes were “engaging and personable.”
She got involved with the student radio station and began having fun. Her college experience drastically changed and, once it was time to finish up her degree, Jessica didn’t want to leave. Graduating meant another difficult decision – where to work. After a stint at Elanco, a pet product manufacturing company in Clinton where her father also worked, Jessica set out to find fulfillment. She took a role with Mental Health America of West Central Indiana as director of development and mostly worked alongside people experiencing homelessness in the six-county region.
“Even though I had the title, director of development at Mental Health America, I was walking side by side with my community and learning from them. As I was helping them, they were helping me.”
With a self-proclaimed mentality of wanting to save the world, Jessica learned that such an ambition was too big a task. For every person she helped, there were more people waiting in line. She often felt like the work she was doing played into a larger system that didn’t work. She wanted to find a different approach.
During her time at Mental Health America, Jessica experienced her own mental health decline. She learned about generational trauma and addiction through the organization, something she battled in her own life.
Jessica used the tools she learned to point herself in the right direction. Looking back, she describes this time as an ‘awakening.’ She got into therapy, embraced sobriety, even tried healthy hobbies. Eventually, Jessica started showing up for herself and for the people she was helping. Today, she believes every person has an innate power to heal their own brain.
“I was shifting my own trajectory and was doing all this internal healing and learning the power of forgiveness and (to) forgive what happened to me growing up and let go of this victim mindset.”
During this time, Jessica met a woman named Danielle Bryan through the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Connect, in which Jessica serves as an advisory board member. Upon their first (virtual) meeting, Danielle led a group meditation and Jessica was instantly intrigued. The two ended up connecting and sharing their ambitions. Danielle told Jessica that she wanted to open her own center, Illumination Wellness.
“I just started taking her classes and I loved the feeling and the things I was learning. I didn’t even realize the level I would get into with energy work. I was going to Launch and talking about Mental Health America and the services I wanted Illumination Wellness to do there.”
Jessica incorporated the teachings at Illumination Wellness into her own life. An anxious person for the majority of her life, even still today, Jessica says one of the biggest and most simple lessons she took from the teachings is the power of your breath.
“Meditation, breath work, yoga. These are things that have been working, standing the test of time. Connecting with your brain, your heart, your mind, body and soul. And it starts with me, with you. We can’t change the world, we can’t change the people, we can only change ourselves and hope that maybe we’ll help reset trajectories for other people.”
Despite a newfound perspective on the world around her, Jessica’s path was still being redirected. Last spring, she experienced a major medical emergency. A softball-sized mass called a hemangioma was found on her liver. The mass was near rupturing, which would have caused internal bleeding. Her doctors urged a surgery that Jessica was afraid to undergo.
“I saw my life flash before my eyes. Three years ago, I didn’t have the will to live and when I got the scary news that I could die without this surgery any day … I realized how deeply I wanted to live!”
Change was imminent as Jessica prepared for her surgery and three-month recovery time in bed. Her deep ambition to “heal” the brokenness in her community grew, as did the idea of working within a wellness center.
“I had the option to either go back to Mental Health America or ride out a dream.”
Jessica left Mental Health America in April. Her surgery was in May. Today, Jessica has recovered and joins several other local women anxiously awaiting the grand opening of Illumination Wellness.