Hey there! I'm Meridith.
I'm a twenty-something-year-old woman currently residing in St. Louis, MO. Born and raised, I'm a proud St. Louisan and love everything about this midwestern city. In 2005, I was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease called Myasthenia Gravis (MG). My personal journey with chronic illness has ultimately led me to where I am today.
My academic background is in psychology and social work. I earned my BA degree at Saint Louis University and my MSW at Washington University in St. Louis, both degrees maintaining a concentration in health and medical ethics.
When I'm not busy working, you can usually find me volunteering for one of my favorite nonprofits, spending time with friends and family, browsing new fashion trends, or discovering the latest and greatest places in St. Louis. If I were to characterize myself using 3 words they would be: compassionate, resilient, and ambitious. I have a big heart, a determined spirit, and an imaginative mind. Take a look around and explore the Merit Option!
THE MERIT OPTION
The Merit Option is built on 3 guiding principles:
01 to educate.
02 to engage.
03 to empower.
Growing up with a chronic illness, particularly one that is rare and mostly invisible, I noticed people struggled to fully comprehend my reality. As a result of being misunderstood and adapting to my "new normal" with a life-altering disease, my sense of self-worth somewhat diminished. I was often discriminated against, and the lack of awareness regarding hidden disabilities and illnesses became more and more apparent to me. From family and friends to educators and employers, and to healthcare professionals and the general public, I realized that many were blind to the unequivocally raw and arduous lifestyle that is demanded of those who are sick. Both my physical and mental health were tested and with time, I learned that if I wanted to be treated with dignity and respect, it was my responsibility to self-advocate and shed light on a topic that was inherently invisible.
Over the course of the years, I acquired the skills and knowledge that becomes necessary to manage a chronic illness and began sharing my experiences through writing, speaking engagements, and exchanges with people who were going through similar situations. Giving my disease purpose allowed me to not only accept this adversity in my own life but offered me an opportunity to help others along the way. Nevertheless, I knew my personal health journey was solely my own and had an obligation to provide appropriate support by making a concerted effort to study the interpersonal and social determinants that can influence a patient's experience. Juxtaposing my personal understanding of the patient perspective to my professional training within the social work field, I knew I was on my way to filling a gap that has been neglected for so long.
Thus, the Merit Option was born. The Merit Option is a strategic approach that invites others to learn, connect, and embrace the chronic illness community and patients alike. The goal behind this initiative is two-fold:
to support patients holistically
to encourage both the chronic illness and able-bodied community to participate in effective learning, healthy conversations, and appropriate inclusion.
By providing this platform, the Merit Option will ultimately serve as the gateway for pioneering the patient voice and valuing the lived experiences of those with chronic illness.