My name is Alexis Howick, and here’s a little piece of my story. I went through most of my life without ever really experiencing the effects of depression or anxiety, but by age 20 they had completely consumed every aspect of my being.
Rewind to 17-year-old Alexis: I was mostly happy and healthy, I had a strong family life, I was involved in dance at my school, and life was good until I entered into my first serious relationship. At the time I had no idea that my relationship would turn out to be the most unhealthy and emotionally traumatic experience of my life. I weighed 130 pounds at the beginning, and by the time it was finally over and done with about 3 years later, I had dropped all the way down to 99 pounds. My college grades had plummeted, I failed my first class, my relationships with my family members were strained, and my life ended up revolving around my newly prescribed anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medicines.
During those years I started distancing myself from my family without even realizing it. I kept things bottled up and chose to keep secrets instead of talking about my problems. I developed a heavy disdain for the world and lost almost all emotional control. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my sister-in-law about my mental and emotional state that I realized my pain and suffering was also hurting the people around me. From that point onward I decided to take matters into my own hands, focus on my mental health, and start taking steps toward getting better. It was then that I finally reached out for help.
I was the first person in my family to ever take medication for anxiety and depression, which was really scary at first. I started seeing a therapist named Kelly, who was the most incredible woman I’ve *ever* met, and together we started working on rebuilding the broken foundation I had based my life upon for years. I had bad days, ok days, really high highs and really low lows, plenty of emotional weeks and setbacks, but in the midst of the process I’d occasionally experience a rare, really great moment or day. I clung onto those times for dear life and took them as signs that things could actually turn around. They gave me hope that this process could actually work for me. Kelly deemed them my “pink cloud days.” Somehow, even though the process made me so uncomfortably vulnerable, I put my trust and effort into it not knowing where it would lead me, and eventually the struggle paid off.
Seeing Kelly three times a week eventually turned into twice a week, and then twice a week, once a week, every other week, once a month, and finally to whenever I felt like I needed it. After 2 years, I felt confident enough to step away and start my new chapter. My new found confidence led to me applying to my dream internship at the time with Alternative Press magazine, which led to a full time position, and eventually I merged into artist management in Los Angeles where I currently reside.
The hard times in my life were long and difficult, but in the end they were worth this wild journey. Through all of my little life successes, getting through a time I didn’t think I could survive has been my biggest victory. I found ways to cope. I started eating healthy. I started to organize EVERYTHING. I got into spiritualism. I started traveling by myself. I went to shows by myself. I’d go shopping completely alone (17 year old Alexis would have died doing anything alone). And I started really investing my time into my design work, clothing, and photography. I gained a new sense of independence and the “pink cloud days” naturally became more frequent.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned through all of this is that anxiety and depression can’t ever fully be cured. Instead, you learn to cope with them. You learn how to adjust and you learn how to manage the things in your life in a new way. You surround yourself with the right people, and the people that are meant to be in your life show up when you least expect them to (s/o to Patrick). You are fully capable of restarting your life, re-learning yourself, and letting light back in. It’s hard at first but I promise it’s worth the time and effort. Something that Kelly said that has stuck with me to this day is to not fight through the feelings. Feel them. Acknowledge them. Let them pass. In time, the feelings DO pass. They always pass.