At age 20, Gabrielle Pelicci returned from her modelling career in NYC to her hometown of Scranton, PA where her mother suddenly passed away. At her mother’s funeral, Gabrielle had a spiritual experience that left her reeling and set her on a heroine’s journey to learn about both the scientific and mystical explanations of human consciousness. Gabrielle studied a dozen healing practices, from alternative medicine to yoga, including travel immersions in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Over the next 10 years, her complex PTSD symptoms persisted. Little by little, Gabrielle’s childhood experiences of domestic violence, and her parents’ mental illnesses and addictions are revealed. At age 30, still grieving the loss of her mother and disgusted with the fact that she can’t overcome her anxiety and depression, Gabrielle attempted to take her own life. Luckily, she survived and continued her journey of healing and trauma recovery, earning a PhD and becoming a professor of holistic medicine, with a dissertation topic on women Healers.
In this deeply personal and vulnerable account, Gabrielle reveals how childhood trauma impacts ohr physical and mental health — as well as our adult relationships. She explores how you are only as sick as your secrets and telling your story is the medicine that can save your life. All This Healing is Killing Me is a brave narrative that reckons with the hold of the past over the present, the mind over the body and celebrates one woman’s ability to write herself a happy ending.
In short, what is ‘All This Healing Is Killing Me’ about?
It’s a story of my personal healing journey of recovery from childhood trauma using many mind-body-spirit practices from alternative medicine to yoga, including travel immersions in Europe, Asia, and Africa. I explore how “you are only as sick as your secrets” and how telling your story is the medicine that can save your life.
‘All This Healing Is Killing Me’ is a deeply personal and vulnerable account of your life story, what inspired you to write about it and turn it into a book for others to read?
I’ve always been inspired by memoirs and personal stories of healing. I wrote my PhD dissertation about the life stories of women healers. I felt it was important for me to tell my own story not only because it was a healing process for me but also because I wanted to reveal the woman behind the professional successes that I’ve had. I hope that my authenticity and vulnerability will inspire others to do the same.
Could you tell us a little more about the traumas that you experienced, and how you overcame them?
I’ve experienced domestic violence, abuse, death of both my parents and a suicide attempt. I used to be very ashamed of my personal history – worried about what people would think of me, but millions of people share my experiences and I think it’s important that we talk about it. I overcame my challenges by doing many different kinds of therapy and practices that I write about in the book.
At your mother’s funeral, you had a spiritual experience; could you tell us more about this and what it was like for you?
At my mother’s funeral, I had a mystical experience where I could sense my mother outside of her body. My mother became a healing guide for me, a guardian angel. It was very confusing and disorienting at the time but now it is just a normal part of my life. I think most people experience unexplainable things that they are afraid to disclose. I hope my story will help others to feel more normal in their experience.
What is complex PTSD, and what are some of the symptoms?
Complex PTSD is a cluster of symptoms that you experience for a long time after prolonged or repeated trauma. For me, it manifested as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, fear of intimacy, nightmares, and physical problems like migraines and ovarian cysts. It took me many years to figure out what was going on and find tools for healing.
What do you want people to know about the healing process?
The healing process is a miracle, but also some of the hardest work that you will ever do. It’s the warrior’s path, not for the faint of heart. You will need a lot of support and you will have to find good people to help you. It is definitely possible to find relief from pain and have a better quality of life if you commit to healing.
What do you want people to know about the writing process?
The writing process is very similar to the healing process; it’s a miracle and also terribly hard sometimes. It will challenge you and change you. It will give you insights that are inaccessible any other way. Sharing your writing with others is also one of the most liberating things you will experience. It’s an antidote to shame and fear.
How long did it take you to write the book in total?
15 years. I wrote the first draft in 2007, second draft in 2013, 3rd draft in 2019 and final draft in 2022.
What difficulties did you have to overcome to write the book?
I had to learn how to write memoir and I had to learn how to deal with the emotions that the writing was evoking. Both of those things required 15 years of classes, trainings, healing and finding the right people to assist me. I also had to overcome my fears of being seen for who I really am and not just a fake version of me.
Who would the book most appeal to?
If the title All This Healing Is Killing Me resonates with you, then the book is for you. You either get it or you don’t. If you have been doing any kind of physical or mental healing, including personal growth and spiritual transformation, then you will understand the meaning of the book and you will benefit from the story.
How has your life changed as a result of writing the book?
I’m so relieved to have finally finished it. It’s a huge accomplishment – something I’ve been working towards for a very long time. I’m also so humbled to receive so much positive feedback. I was secretly worried that people would love me less when I spoke my truth, but the opposite is true. The truth brings you closer to the ones you love.
You were named one of the Top 100 Women of the Future in 2022 for your work in emerging technologies; could you tell us more about this?
In addition to writing, I do teaching and consulting. During 2022, I was teaching in a women’s leadership program that empowered women to learn emerging technologies. I’ve always been fascinated by technology – I have a Masters degree in Educational Technology and I’ve consulted in many tech startups. One of the founders of the women’s leadership program nominated me and I was awarded the honor of Top 100 Women of the Future.
You completed your doctoral work in Transformative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies with a dissertation on women healers and studied plant medicine with indigenous healers in New Mexico and Guatemala. Could you tell us what these experiences were like, and why you chose to do them?
My doctoral work was the foundation of my career. I chose to explore women healers because when I looked for books as a young woman about other women practicing healing, I could hardly find any. We need women’s stories and women’s wisdom. It’s important for the healing of people and the planet. As part of my ongoing research, I lived with women who were practicing plant medicine, herbalism, permaculture and natural healing. It was a fascinating experience and I’m writing another book about it.
You currently work for Third Wave, could you tell us more about this?
Third Wave is psychedelics education and community platform. We offer personalised psychedelics coaching and a coaching certification program. We also have a research-based blog and podcast. It’s a very exciting company and I am thrilled to be growing the professional network of providers as the head of provider relations. I think psychedelics medicine has vast potential to help millions of people heal from physical and mental illness.
You’ve taught hundreds of students and clients proven strategies for positive change in life and work; what motivates you to do this?
I teach others what I’ve learned because it makes me happy; I want everyone to have access to the same resources, information and tools that have been so instrumental in my healing and growth. It’s inspiring to me to watch others learn and transform. I never get bored with helping others to improve their lives. It’s a very rewarding career.
Do you plan to write more books in the future, and if so, what might they be about?
Yes, my next book is a memoir about plant medicine and psychedelics. It starts in 2019 and follows me on a journey to several countries to study with healers and experience many medicines such as magic mushrooms, peyote and ayahuasca, leading up to my present day work at Third Wave.
And finally, what do you hope that readers will take away from the book?
I hope that my book makes you feel less alone and more empowered to tell your own story.