United Bodies

Writing A New Story with Stephanie Foo


February 16, 2024

With Guests:

Stephanie Foo is a former radio producer for This American Life and Snap Judgment, and has freelanced for podcasts like The Cut, Nancy, Reply All and 99% Invisible. She co-produced a video series for TAL that won an Emmy. Her work has been featured in places like The New York Times and Vox, and she is the author of the book What My Bones Know. When she’s not telling stories, you can find her in Forest Park, saving trees and harvesting acorns.

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In this Episode:

Content warning: child abuse

Trauma is everywhere we look. Most prominently, trauma is marked by a sense of powerlessness and loss of control. This is one of most overwhelming parts of experiencing trauma. It’s terrifying to lose control over our bodies and our lives. Recovery is then about regaining control over all that was taken from us.

One tool that can help us is the act of writing our stories. When we are able to reclaim our own stories, we can find a power greater than the power we lost. For Stephanie Foo, author of What My Bones Know, a memoir about healing with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, writing about her family’s intergenerational immigrant trauma slowly helped her rearrange the puzzle pieces of her own life.

Once she had distance from her experience, she was able to use what she discovered in her writing to craft a memoir of hope and healing for the countless others experiencing the impact of chronic trauma. Today, Stephanie, journalist and radio producer, formerly of This American Life and Snap Judgment, joins us to break down how she approached writing What My Bones Know and the radical power available when we reclaim our stories.

For more, follow: 

Stephanie @FooFooFoo




KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:00:01] Welcome to United Bodies, a podcast about the lived experience of health. I’m Kendall Ciesemier, your host. 

Trauma is everywhere we look. Most prominently, trauma is marked by a sense of powerlessness and a loss of control. These are the most overwhelming parts of experiencing trauma. It’s terrifying to lose control over our bodies and our lives. Recovery is then about regaining control over all that was taken from us. 

One tool that can help us is the act of writing our stories. When we’re able to reclaim our own stories, we can find a power greater than the power we lost. For Stephanie Foo, author of What My Bones Know, a memoir about healing with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, writing about her family’s intergenerational immigrant trauma slowly helped her rearrange the puzzle pieces of her own life. Once she had distance from her experience, she was able to use what she discovered in her writing to craft a memoir of hope and healing for the countless others experiencing the impact of chronic trauma. 

Today, Stephanie, a journalist and radio producer formerly of “This American Life” and “Snap Judgment,” joins me to break down how she approached writing What My Bones Know and the radical power available when we all reclaim our stories. 

Stephanie, thank you so much for joining us. And I absolutely loved your book. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:01:39] Thank you so much for having me. And thank you for reading it. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:01:42] So I followed you through your process of getting a book deal, writing the book, publishing the book. It’s now been over a year since What My Bones Know came out and the paperback version is out, which is a really big deal because if you don’t know books to make it to a paperback version, if it wasn’t originally printed in paperback, it’s a sign of real success, let alone that it hits the New York Times bestseller list upon its paperback release. How does it feel to have something so celebrated that explores something that likely felt so isolating for so long? 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:02:20] I think it’s great. I am very grateful, very joyful that it’s resonated with people, that it’s helped people. My goal was that it would help one person. The fact that it’s reached so many, many thousands of people is just extraordinary. And it definitely allows me and I think the community of people who are now following me to see that, you know, our experience is absolutely not rare or freakish or isolated. It’s very, very common and in some ways normal. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:03:00] Did you believe that before you had received this kind of reception? 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:03:04] I think that because there is so much stigma around PTSD, I didn’t know that many people who had it. A lot of people who did have it weren’t like very open about it. Even people in my life who who had it weren’t open with me about having it. And so now that, like I have met so many people who have PTSD or I’m aware even of people in my life who have had it, who have it, it’s definitely a less lonely experience. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:03:37] PTSD is usually something that can come from an isolated moment of trauma, a, you know, a crash, an assault, etc., etc. more notably, a singular event. Whereas complex post-traumatic stress disorder develops from prolonged, repeated period of traumatic events. You first made a name for yourself as a radio producer at “Snap Judgment,” and then “This American Life,” long before you made a name for yourself with this book talking about navigating trauma. But one thing remains consistent is that you’re a storyteller. What was it like to turn this story telling on yourself, on your own story, and why did you decide to? 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:04:28] It was surprisingly not as hard as I thought. I had been a character in many of the stories that I’ve told. I played the journalist. I’m somebody who was doing the research and interviewing people and looking for answers, and this was no exception. And I decided to do it because working at “This American Life”and “Snap Judgment” for so long, you get lots of feedback when you do stories about like intersex people or veterans or fat people or people struggling with ALS, whatever it is. You tell first person stories, lived experiences, and then people always write to you and say, “That was so validating. I needed that. I feel so much less alone.” Yadda yadda yadda. I knew the impact of the first-person story, and I craved it so much when I was diagnosed with complex PTSD because there was no first-person story that I could find. I wanted the book. I wanted like a podcast. I wanted the whole thing. And so since I couldn’t find it, I thought, if I can heal from this, I better make it. Because clearly there’s a market and I don’t want anybody else to be diagnosed and to feel like they’re the only one in the world, because clearly, they’re not. I mean, just like the idea of complex PTSD, just working off of ACEs, right? Childhood trauma. And how many people have estimated like six or more ACEs indicating that, you know, they’ve gone through significant childhood trauma? I would assume that most of those people have C-PTSD. Yeah, and that’s like 50 million people. And so I was like, they’re out there. People are out there. You know, I want to make something for them. That being said, you know, I didn’t immediately just start writing that next day and be like, okay, now I’m–I’m, you know, documenting the story. I was like, well, let me let me fix it. Let me see if I can heal first. See if I can do this and see if I have something to say afterward. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:06:45] Mm hmm. Do you think writing the book at all advanced your healing in any way? 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:06:53] I think probably there was something about the way that I had to–Look, when you’re a journalist, you have to organize all of your research and create, like, spreadsheets and documents and make you know this portfolio of all your research. I don’t know that I would have necessarily taken that kind of tack if I was just healing and I didn’t have the intent of writing a story about it. So in that sense, I probably was much more thorough than I would have been otherwise. So I think that really helped advance it. I think that having written the book and again, building this community, being in connection with so many people who have C-PTSD has been really healing. I don’t know the writing process itself was particularly like the most healing thing in the world. I don’t know. Some people say that it is. It wasn’t for me. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:08:05] Yeah, I actually wondered about that. I mean, I think, you know, obviously the first step is the deciding, but next comes the actual writing. And for folks who haven’t read your story, the book is largely about your experience, as you mentioned, with abuse as a child and how you have forged a path of healing for yourself. But your parents were violent. One time, you were thrown down the stairs. Your mother attempted suicide and blamed you for it. You were left alone as a teenager. Your father sent you just enough money to survive. It’s significant. And you write in the book in quotes, “No matter what I do, no matter where I try to find joy, I instead find my trauma. And it whispers to me, You will always be this way. It’s never going to change. I will follow you. I will make you miserable forever. And then I will kill you.” 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:08:56] I mean, I mean, that’s early in the book to be… I just want to categorize that. That’s early in the book. That is the past self.  

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:09:05] But even putting, even putting that on paper to me would seem challenging. But that, yes, it is a different self writing about this. But to even go there and put that part on paper, the before the healing part. What was that like for you? 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:09:35] I think it was really important for me to do the healing before I did the writing. When I wrote during my healing process, it was not for the consumption of others, it was for myself. It was stream of consciousness. It wasn’t to make things pretty, it was just to get my ideas out, get my feelings out. And so I wasn’t gussying anything up. I wasn’t thinking about how it would fit in the narrative and nobody read it. Nobody will ever read it. It’s just diaries. So, yeah, I mean, the healing process was just that. It was it was healing. And I think it was really important for that to be the case, honestly, because my self-worth, my actions, my everything had been defined. My, my, my career, my entire life. I had always, you know, told myself how successful or how worthy, how whatever I was by how many stories I had or where I was working, or I was only worth as much as the success of the last story I did. And I was really trying to divorce myself from that and to live a life that wasn’t so connected to capitalism and a career and to live a have a healing process. And live, to find to love myself for who I was outside of that, which required me to just forget about all of that and have a totally separate healing life where I wasn’t concerned about the story and how pretty or right or whatever something looked or if something was working or not, whether it was good for the narrative. I think the other really important thing was that when like, when I got to writing, I felt healed. Not healed, but I felt much more healed. I felt okay. I felt good, you know. And so that made writing all of this stuff much easier. A lot of the writing was done for me too. I went and I just picked stuff out of my diary and then organized. It was this kind of like cutting tape using source material from your interviewee. It was sort of the same thing. I was like, it was like a separate person that I was stealing from. And then I had a lot of, like, love and empathy for that girl, for that woman. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:12:14] Yeah, I was going to ask about that. Yeah. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:12:16] Because I had come to a healed place and I didn’t. I think, you know, if you’re writing that and you’re feeling a lot of shame about it, that’s going to be really painful and exhausting and terrible. And I know lots of people do that and it helps them exercise their shame or whatever. I’m not that person. So it was like nice to be able to go through and find these sections with this sort of adult perspective, almost. That had so much forgiveness and love for this person. And I think that was really important because I have read so many trauma books before that feel like you’re in the middle of it. And a lot of the trauma books also focus a lot on the trauma. And this was I wanted it to be different cause I wanted it to be focused on the healing. I wanted it to be sort of a road map rather than recounting the trauma. I wanted that to be the first 50 pages. I wanted the vast majority of the book to be all about, okay, what do you do then, once you’ve gone through that? When I wrote the prologue or the author’s note to the story, I was very clear, like, this story has a happy ending. Yeah, it was all very intentional and I don’t think I could have done that if I was like writing from a really raw place. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:13:39] Yeah, I think that’s really important to talk about. I remember you saying at one point that you originally had very little about the trauma in the book. And that your I don’t know if, as your editor, your agent pushed you to. 

STEPHANIE FOO It was my editor. Yeah. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER Give a little bit more. What, what was that commentary like and how did you react to that?

STEPHANIE FOO [00:14:01] Yeah, I had like 20, 25 pages of trauma. Maybe it was very like, brief. It was like summary of like I was abused. Here are the very bare facts. It sucked. Let’s move forward. And she was like, Nobody’s going to know. Nobody’s going to be invested in your healing if nobody knows what you’re healing from. Nobody’s going to care about this whole journey that you’re going to go on unless they understand your pain and like what you really had to suffer through. And again, my inclination to not have any of that was really just to protect the reader. I was like, I don’t want to I don’t want to come and trigger the hell out of everyone and make them feel miserable the first 25 or the first 50 pages. And then. But she was right. You know, I had to provide context for the entire book of healing. And so it was really a hard balance to write those first 50 pages because it was like you have to you have to draw the reader in in your first 50 pages. So it has to be like entertaining, right? But I was like, wow. Like, yeah, you’re like trying to be entertaining with your childhood trauma. Oh, here’s a bad thing. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:15:13] You just. Yeah, that’s. Yeah, that’s. That’s really interesting. It reminds me a little bit of, like, what Melissa Febos writes about in the book called Body Work. This is a book that Melissa Febos, who is a pretty well-known writer, memoirist, etc., wrote about the act of writing about trauma with a real focus on talking about how oftentimes women’s narratives, women’s kind of trauma narratives are met with a little bit of rebuke by an industry like, oh, just another, you know, woman telling her story in memoir form about their oppression or whatever. And she argues in this book that these narratives are important because the ways in which we are silenced is part of the actual structural oppression against people of color and women, and that this is actually a methodology of social justice to to not be numb against these things and to keep on putting our stories forth and that our narratives are part of a bigger, broader effort to call into question structures of power. I wonder what you think about that. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:16:37] It’s really important to have these nuanced stories that have the real suffering of our experience as women, as people of color, as disabled people, how that is really hard and the challenges, societal and individual that we come up against with that, but also the joy and the power that comes with those experiences and I think those give it a lot of value like I think a lot about Disability Visibility. That book. I don’t know if you’ve read it. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:17:21] Alice Wong. Yea. It’s great. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:17:22] And how so many people in it wrote about how much they hate this sort of pitiful idea of the disabled person. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:17:33] Right. I think it’s really hard, though, right? Because like you’re trying to balance two things at once. Right. We’re not ever trying to be flattened by the worst thing that’s ever happened to us or about the ways in which people could pity us. But you’re also trying to be honest about the experience in order to hopefully drive something, some movement, some positive movement, whether that’s a perception of someone that someone has about a group of people or helping someone who’s had the same experience feel less alone. I mean, what’s so cool about your book is that it isn’t a flattening, and it really does offer this like, multifaceted experience where you’re learning about your experience with trauma alongside all of these other parts of you, I think, that are important. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:18:28] That was important to me like there are very stupid fart jokes in my book. Perhaps an overabundance of them according to my editor at the time, she was like, “Maybe take this one out”. And I was like, “No, I’m keeping them all in.” To me, keeping in some of these really, really stupid, corny jokes. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:18:45] The farts stay. Yeah. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:18:47] Because I just wanted it to be not like I wanted the book to be funny because trauma’s funny and, C-PTSD is is so ridiculous. I mean, literally your brain is telling you that like you need to run and hide from a tiger when you’re just trying to eat nachos.

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:19:12] There is no tiger. No tiger present. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:19:15] It’s ridiculous. It’s inherently ridiculous. I mean, it’s fucking sad and horrible and painful. Excruciatingly so. The point where often you feel like you want to die. I mean, yes, that’s true, but it’s also fucking funny and like, Yeah. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:19:30] And there’s a lot of, like, moments where it feels like a cosmic joke. Yeah, You’re like, Oh, I’m in on it. I get it haha. That’s so interesting. Yeah. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:19:38] And so I want to hear all of that. Basically. Like I want to hear all of the ridiculousness from full characters, fully developed, nuanced characters who are in pain and joyful. And I think when you have stories like that and when you take care to be edit stories like that and publish stories like that, I don’t see what anybody has to complain about because these are just good stories. Do you know what I mean? 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:20:14] Right. Right. Yeah. As we’re talking about audience, I feel like one of the audiences that you’ve really consciously cultivated and really wrote for not just people who have C-PTSD, but people who are first generation Americans whose parents were immigrants to this country. You know, I think this is one of the stories that you tell that I find to be so impactful. There’s so much of our histories that we don’t get to learn and we don’t get to understand. And it was really important and interesting and impactful that you brought in a lot of your parents history, your grandfather’s history, living through the Malayan emergency, which was a guerrilla war fought in then British Malaya between communist pro-independence fighters of the Malayan National Liberation Army and military forces of the British Commonwealth. You know, that that there is so much history that your ancestors, your family had lived through that maybe wasn’t completely clear to you growing up, but that had like a real impact on how you were raised and how your life has kind of played out. How much how much of this was clear to you? And, you know, I think the other thing is you mention you go back to your your high school and you tell the story of this majority minority community and your experience in high school and realizing later on, only later on that the other immigrant kids that you would talk to, that you were friends with who had also experienced this kind of tumultuous childhood, a childhood with abuse, because their parents had also experienced a lot of trauma. How important was the story within the story that you were writing? 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:22:19] Yeah, I thought it was really important. I dedicated a lot of space in the book to it because I thought it was so important. I think, again, if you go back to like my training at 

‘This American Life’ and my thinking about audience, the thing that we were always taught is like try to choose stories that don’t reinforce stereotypes. Try to choose stories that are saying something that hasn’t been said yet. It’s a new story, which is a new story that is like, What are you bringing to the table? That’s new. And certainly, like, I was kind of tired of the model minority stereotype and the flattening of Asian-Americans as like high achieving, good at math students and not understanding where that devotion, that work ethic comes from and the cost of it. And it really hit me how dire and important shattering that story was when I went back to San Jose. And, you know, I knew that lots of my friends, all of my closest friends were abused growing up in San Jose by their immigrant, often refugee parents. And when I talk to the teachers at my high school and they all didn’t know that and they were like, nobody is abused here. You know, you don’t know the definition of abuse. Like “You don’t understand like there’s poor, Blacker, browner schools in this district. You want to see abuse? That’s abuse,” you know. And I was like, Um, well, I don’t know, like my best friend coming to school, covered in bruises every day and like, literally thinking he was going to die. I think that counts, bro. But you don’t fucking, none of the teachers knew about that. None of these teachers knew about the cost of why people were getting the straight A’s. And so for me, it was really important to shatter some of those Asian stereotypes and findings. And I think that was part of it. And the other reason was to showcase that complex PTSD, that trauma is not like a personal feeling. Again, as I wrote in the book, it’s not personal. It’s communal trauma. And I think we take it on as something that we have to fix. It’s our responsibility. We are broken and we are doing these things that are wrong when really it’s like, well, you are a product of society. You are a product of the class that you’re born in, the race that you’re born in. You’re the product of literally generations of political strife, of war, of conflict. And to not to put this all on yourself is an unnecessary cruelty. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:25:22] Yeah, absolutely. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:25:24] So, yeah, it was really important for me to showcase that again, to take care of survivors and to allow them to feel less like the neuroses that they might have is their fault. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:25:37] Yeah. Yeah. I thought that was like a really powerful thread that really came out and also really did, I think, you know, open my eyes as someone who, you know, could absolutely have been ignorant to what was going on for so many, you know, either first gen or immigrant kids. And to think that, you know, even to think in in your own personal story, that your story starts before you’re even born. Yeah. And that that’s such an important component to consider. And you know, in therapy you do a lot of talking about your childhood, but like, you don’t necessarily always talk about kind of your grandparents and your, you know, the ecosystems that they lived in. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:26:25] Right. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:26:26] And I think that was that was really illuminating. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:26:29] I definitely think that we should talk about that more in therapy. I advocate all the time for more decolonized therapy in which therapists actually do some research about the populations that they’re treating. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:26:44] I mean, because it is so–I mean, for a lot of populations, it is so formative. And now we have the whole arena of epigenetics, which is the study and exploration of how trauma changes our DNA and is encoded in our DNA. And it can be passed down generations. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:27:04] Yeah, I don’t know how if you’re a therapist and you’re treating someone whose parents survived the Khmer Rouge, let’s say, which is literal genocide. I don’t know how that’s not like a regular conversation point in how you see the world, because your parents saw the world as so dangerous and taught you to see the world that way. Or, you know, survivors of the people who are whose grandparents were survivors of the Holocaust or. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:27:32] Right. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:27:33] Black people whose ancestors were survivors of slavery. I don’t know how you can talk about fear, about living in this world if you’re not going to address these pretty critical historical elements, even outside of the epigenetic element, which is significant, just the cultural elements of what happens to your entire culture when you survive the Chinese Cultural Revolution. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:28:05] Yeah, absolutely. Another thread that you pull out, a story you connect, so to speak, is the connection between mental health and physical health. In your story, you talk about going to the doctors to deal with pelvic pain, which is like one of the many physical manifestations of childhood trauma. I feel like we’re just beginning to really come to an understanding about the connection between mental and physical health and the implications on our physical health due to childhood trauma. What has this part of the process been like for you? And yeah, how did you connect those dots for yourself? 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:28:49] I think it’s been the most gaslight-y part of the process 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:28:52] Oh, no.

STEPHANIE FOO [00:28:54] because so many doctors are like don’t see the connection. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:28:56] Yeah. If you’re looking for the medical establishment to affirm that that piece of it, it’s still we have a long way to go. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:29:04] And it’s been really it’s been one of the more painful ways, actually, because, like, I mean, I live with chronic pain. I was just diagnosed with hyper mobile EDS Ehlers-danlos. And I was really lucky, though, to have a doctor who when he diagnosed me, I was like, I have complex PTSD. And he’s like, Oh, that’s a critical part of your chronic pain. And very much validated it. And even to the point where he said to me, I was worried about giving it to my kid and he was like, Yeah, but you’re not going to abuse your kid and you were abused. And so and that’s a big part of your chronic pain and like that help that help the gene manifest and that is affecting the way you’re healing and it’s affecting your pain now and you’re not going to abuse your kid. And so I promise you they’ll be way better off. And that was a nice thing to hear from a medical professional. You know, I feel really lucky that I heard that some medical professionals are coming around and not under like this, though, but I’ve certainly had plenty, too, who are like, “Oh, tell your psychologist, tell your psychiatrist, don’t tell me.”

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:30:13] Oh, and in the book, you do start to create that link. You know, I’ve been watching your journey kind of putting all of these pieces together even further beyond what you had constructed in the book, which has been really interesting, but that is a real story or a real thread I feel like was beginning to emerge from your work. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:30:35] Yeah, I, I haven’t written tons except for about women’s reproductive health in my book about the link. It’s very clear there is a link I guess I wrote about ACEs and the health links there, but I think if you want to learn more. What is the book? The Myth of Normal. The Myth of Normal by Gabor Maté has a lot in it about the links between physical health and mental health and also The Deepest Well by Nadine Burke Harris. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:31:15] Both excellent resources, I think, moving forward. The last thing I really want to touch on here, Stephanie, is that you’re pregnant and like you have this opportunity and in so many ways to create kind of like a new narrative of your family. And I’m wondering how that’s all suddenly sitting with you. And maybe it’s too close to really even. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:31:44] I mean, we’ll see. I don’t have a kid yet. Yeah, but certainly it’s, yeah, I. It’s very much on my mind. It’s been something I’ve been preparing for many years and thinking a lot about. And yeah, we feel very, very passionately about giving this child a very different kind of life, a very different childhood than we both had. And it’s interesting to get to see what family can mean because family has only met some pretty terrible things for me in the past. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:32:23] Mm hmm. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:32:24] Domesticity has a lot of triggers behind it. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:32:29] Mm hmm. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:32:30] But, you know, I’ve always hated Mother’s Day. I had a pretty bad ass Mother’s Day the other day a couple of months ago where I’m the mom now and I get to control what the mom looks like in the mom doesn’t have to look like Mommie Dearest. So I don’t know. I’m sure it’s going to be a real journey with a lot of pain and triggers and scary stuff. And I’m going to feel really bad a lot and feel like I’m failing and feel really guilty a lot. Like, Oh, no. The way that I said that, did I say that just like my mom? I am her. Oh, no. At the same time, like, you know, my mom didn’t go to 12 years of therapy before having me, so I think it might be a little different. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:33:20] I think it will be. And I think, like, your ability to rewrite that role is really cool and could feel very special upon experiencing it. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:33:33] That’s what people say. Lots of people say it, but lots of trauma. Survivors say it’s really healing. That being said, I feel also really grateful that I am not doing this as an act of healing. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:33:48] Yes. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:33:49] This isn’t a new fun alternative therapy. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:33:52] No, no, no. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:33:53] It’s just life. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:33:56] Yeah. Yeah. And I’m like, how cool that you’re in the spot that you’re in to pursue life as you as you want. And as you see fit. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:34:12] Yeah, I really hope so. I think that it I think with complex PTSD, it can be really hard to hope. It’s scary to hope. It’s easier to, like, look for all of the most bad, dangerous things that could happen on the horizon and be and plan for all of those things. I think having a child is the ultimate act of hope. You really have to or else how can you go forward? How can you do anything? And so it is certainly a really interesting challenge and exercise to practice that hope every day. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:34:53] Absolutely. Well, I can tell you that you’ve been, and your story has been very helpful to me in my own experience. And I’ve said this to you before, but it bears repeating, Stephanie, that I originally found you through a friend who had heard you speak about your experience as a radio producer, and I had just told her that I had kind of received this diagnosis of sorts in therapy, and I was in therapy for the first time. And she said, “Oh, it’s so weird. I just I just heard from this radio producer who spoke at my school. She’s writing a memoir about complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Maybe you should just like DM her or something. “And that’s exactly what I did. I DMed you over Twitter. And, you know, again, it bears repeating, but I think you your willingness to share your story, your book, your continual openness to other other folks dealing with the same kind of–different things, but the same kind of things is just such a gift. And I’m just really grateful and appreciative for all that you are in the world. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:36:13] Thank you. I am writing on the shoulders of others vulnerability, and I saw how valuable that was to me and my healing process and I’m just paying it forward. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:36:24] Beautiful. I mean, that’s the dream. That’s the hope. That’s the vision. So I love that. Thanks so much for doing this with me. 

STEPHANIE FOO [00:36:32] Thanks for having me. It’s been fun. 

KENDALL CIESEMIER [00:36:35] Thank you so much for listening. You can subscribe to United Bodies wherever you get your podcasts. If you enjoyed this episode. It would be so helpful to us if you would rate and review the show. That helps more people like you find us. We’ll be back next week with more. 

United Bodies is a Ms. Magazine and Ms. Studios production. The show is created and produced by me, Kendall Ciesemier. Michele Goodwin is our executive producer.