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I'm Gilberto

I'm a serial entrepreneur,

Life & Brain Coach,

FASD Self-Advocate & Mentor

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Hi, I'm Gilberto. I have always felt different, and I didn't know how different or how to explain it. I just knew I was. Here is the story of how different I turned out to be. At 33 years of age, I started questioning many things in my life. I noticed that I seemed to experience the world in a way that no one else seemed able to do it. After digging deep into it, I found the answer to my questions, FASD or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. FASD is a diagnostic term referring to the impacts on the brain and body of people prenatally exposed to alcohol. I was surprised to find out that I have had FASD without knowing it.

As its name describes it, I acquired my condition before birth. While I was still a developing fetus in my mother's womb, her heavily drinking during my development caused my FASD. But how bad can alcohol be? Alcohol can be as harmful as radiation to the embryo since both are teratogens. And what is that? Teratogens can produce physical or functional defects in the human embryo or fetus upon exposure, teratogens like alcohol target mainly the fetus's nervous system, the brain. The damage that alcohol causes to the brain is not visible since these changes are functional, not structural. In other words, it disrupts the brain's wiring, not its physical form (in most cases). Suppose you think of our brain as a supercomputer. In that case, alcohol will affect the files and programs, not the hardware, which still looks undamaged from the outside.

During my FASD assessment, many doctors and professionals evaluated me, including neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, occupational therapists, audiologists, sleep doctors, among others. They all helped me understand that many of the things happening to me were not typical. After many evaluations, I was officially diagnosed with FASD and many other conditions caused by it, including ADHD, chronic anxiety, chronic depression, trauma, and PTSD, to name a few.

The worst part of having FASD, is not having it but not knowing that you have it, remember that "If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." It was painful not knowing I was a fish because I would hate myself every day for not being able to climb the tree no matter how hard I tried. Learning about my FASD was bittersweet, it was good to know, but at the same time when I read " Irreversible and permanent brain damage caused by alcohol," my heart fell. The feelings that overwhelmed me were devastating; however, I've pulled myself out of there and I'm proud to say that have come a long way.

 

I tried it all, accommodations, interventions, strategies, as well astherapy and counseling. They were helpful, but I wasn't getting where I wanted and knew I could be. I thought I had exhausted all my options until someone suggested coaching. Thinking I had nothing to lose, I gave coaching a try, and I'm so thankful to have done it because it changed my life! Through coaching, I improved in a way I never thought possible. I found out my brain was the cause of my challenges and struggles, but it was the solution to all of them too! Through coaching, I figured my brain out. Seeing what my brain was doing to me was a revelation! It was like wearing prescription glasses for the first time. Inspired by my transformation and after seeing the extraordinary results, I decided to become a Coach myself, I now help others transform their lives the way I did.

Before coaching, my brain would take control of me and make decisions that weren't always on my best interest or what I really wanted. I had irrational impulses and behaviors, I didn't know or understand why or what was happening to me. I would respond, "I don't know," when others questioned them, not because I didn't want to answer, but because I truly didn't have one. Through coaching I was able to see what my brain was doing to me, and when I realized that what my brain was doing to me wasn’t who I was as a person, that they are two things completely different, I was able to turn things around.

I’ve been where you are now, I know you may be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed or frustrated because you have so many reasons to be happy but aren't! I know how it feels when everything seems out-of-reach despite your efforts, I would often struggle with these feelings too (usually laughing them off). There's no way to describe how I felt when my doctor confirmed I had FASD, and it was a lot more than just disappointment or anger. It was devastating because everything about this condition sounded extremely negative. It was challenging, and there were many days that I wanted to give up on myself because it is not easy, we face plenty of challenges and struggles every day, but I have learned that FASD has its gifts too. I no longer see myself as someone with a brain injury but simply someone who possesses unique skills and special talents.

If you or your child has been affected by FASD or other mental health problems or debilitating conditions, I invite you to learn more about me and how I can help.