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Autobiography and Personal Anecdotes - Jan Hanson, M.S.

I was born on March 14, 1954. I am the second of three children, the others both boys, and blessed to have been raised in a relatively sane family and to have had - believe it or not - a happy childhood! I never doubted that my parents loved me, and overall I had a clear sense that I was a good, capable, and intelligent person. I always loved heart-to-heart conversations with people, and remember many nights of having such conversations with my father until the wee-small-hours of-the-night.

My family enjoyed the pleasures of an extended family, particularly with my maternal grandparents. We always lived near my grandparents, and actually shared a duplex with them for a year when I was an infant. They stayed at our house every weekend; arriving on Saturday morning, my gandmother cleaned our house from top-to-bottom, and then my parents went out to dinner and for a "date" each and every Saturday night. When we were pre-schoolers, we also met my grandmother every Wednesday for an excursion to one of many local parks for the day. (Later in life after my grandfather died, this allowed for a seamless transition of my grandmother moving in with my family until she died, and never having a moment of awkwardness .. she was part of the family.) I cannot even imagine how different it would have been for me as a mother had I had that kind of support in the early rearing of my own children.

Academically, my interest was always math and science; my analytic abilities always thrilled my father (him again!), and I remember him challenging me with math problems throughout my childhood. Through fabulous good fortune, I ended up having a job as a high school student working in a neurochemistry research laboratory. I enjoyed the work, where I was allowed to be fully involved in running experiements. I also enjoyed my relationships with the intelligent adults I met there, and our lovely philosophical conversations about communication and the meaning of life. The academic culmination was that I became a co-author of a reseach paper presented at a National Neurochemistry Society Meeting as a high school student.

I began school at U.C.San Diego, having been given another gem job making computer animated films. I had presumed that I was on my way to medical school, but the questions began to pile up about the level of sacrifice needed - which conflicted with my budding new-age sense of taking care of myself. After a number of months, I transferred to U.C.L.A., because I missed my friends in LA, particularly a preforming group of folk-dancers that I was a part of, and continued in pre-med. After my sophomore year, I made the jump to being a psychology major, graduating with honors in 1978. I was very interested in the human potential movement, and participated in programs like "Helpline" telephone counseling services and Peer Health Counselors at U.C.L.A. I also worked for two years as a clinical assistant at the U.C.L.A. acupuncture clinic, at the very beginning of the introduction of acupuncture in the United States.

In my latter years at college, I met Rick - who at that time was a mix of an unbelievably wild and unbelievably wise guy - and I set my sights on him from our first introduction. It was many years, however, before he got the same clarity about this that I had, but they were filled with all sorts of great activities. After college, I worked with Rick putting together a successful company that delivered growth seminars on the topic of communication and relationships. When that folded - due to Rick's desire to move on - I decided to continue with my interest in health care and became a Hellerwork Practitioner. Hellerwork is a kind of deep tissue body therapy out of the tradition of Rolfing. I rapidly became a teacher of this work, and continued doing it for 12 years, until depletion changed my course.

During my early years with Hellerwork, Rick and I reconnected after some time apart, and this time there was a rapid move toward a committed relationship and - yup! the "m" word - marriage. We had five great years of growth and development personally, spiritually, and as a couple, before we decided to have babies.

In the early years of my depletion, it became clear that my body could no longer bear up under the physical demands of Hellerwork, and I also wanted a career that could help people in more fundamental and far-reaching ways. Having worked with the health problems of my daughter homeopathically - and having used homeopathy, Chinese Medicine, and naturopathic methods for my own problems, I developed a great love for these kinds of health care. I pursued formal training as an acupuncturist - receiving a Master's Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine in 1997 - as well as additional, ongoing training in nutrition and homeopathy. This work allows me to do the three things I love most: enjoy meaningful relationships; help people; and analytically figure out when in the world is going on with them! As a good friend of ours who is a professor at Harvard Medical School said, my favorite patient is an internist's nightmare!

I think that one thing that sets me apart from many care providers is that when people tell me about their emotional problems, I immediately think about the underlying physiology that might be causing such distress. This comes from my own experience, of course, because that is so much of what worked for me. My children continually tease me that the first thing I say when they get moody is "Did you take your vitamins?" The amazing thing is that many mothers who are doing very poorly amotionally - feeling crazy, depressed, or whatever - are helped dramatically by straightening out their physiology.

Mostly these days I am a mother - first and formost - and then a health care provider. I am somewhat obsessed with understanding health and the contribution nutritional interventions can make: my idea of an exciting piece of literature is the Alternative Medical Review, and a great time is evening cup of tea with Harper's Biochemistry! Additionally, I do arts and crafts, particularly with my daughter, and enjoy hiking and occassionally play a little piano. I treasure my friendships and all of the time I spend with friends and family.

Why I wrote this book
My purpose in writing this book stems from both my profesisonal and personal story. In fact, I was the "poster child" for depleted mother syndrome. I could have prevented, or dramatically lessened, most of the health problems that I suffered had I taken care of myself physically, emotionally, and socially in the way our book recommends. I so want to share that with other mothers.

Second, but equally filled with personal zeal, is my desire as a professional to awaken mothers (and others!) to the benefits of integrated, intelligent holistic care. I love the rational approach to health care expressed in our book. I love undersatanding the intricacies of individual metabolism and how that can be influenced by benign nutritional interventions. I love the fact that many difficult health problems are resolved with natural medicine. So, this book allows me to express this passion beyond my patient population.
For more information, please see "Jan's Story" in Chapter 5.

Learn About Ricki Pollycove, M.D.

Learn More About Rick Hanson, Ph.D.