Keeping it real!
How have you been?
Happy May! Hope this month will only bring you joy and happiness.
May is mental health awareness month, so I want to talk about how I’ve been doing and feeling.
I will continue the Self-care series after, I have been quite busy lately and sometimes writing an article can take hours.
I also applied to become a listener volunteer for Samaritans, I do hope I will be able to help those that need someone to talk to.
In a way, May has always been my favourite month. I love seeing all the flowers and trees blooming, I love the weather as well, not too hot but not too cold either.
It’s just perfectly balanced, at least in all the countries where I used to be and where I am now.
I honestly can’t believe that soon it’s my birthday, time truly flies…
Seriously, it feels so strange that I am turning 23, I feel like I haven’t even lived much since I turned 20. All my time was spent working, then the pandemic hit, and then l lost most of last year because of trauma.
Time is harsh, it doesn’t wait for anyone.
Isn’t it crazy that you will never get back the time you lost?
In honour of this month, I want to share a bit more about who I am since there are so many new readers, and be open about my struggles.
Who am I?
My name is Alexandra, this is actually my middle name, but I just go by it. I am not a big fan of nicknames, however, my family calls me Ali, and some people call me Lexi.
My birthday is on the 21st of May, I celebrate both the day I was born but also my saint name, so it’s a double celebration. I’ll give you a hint, that name means ‘bright light’ in Greek.
My mom has always tried to celebrate my birthday, ever since I was a baby, she said it’s important to celebrate the miracle of being alive. She always made it so special!
Unfortunately, since I moved to the U.K., I probably celebrated a bit once.
Every year I get sad because I can’t celebrate it, I usually just find myself alone.
I know it’s just a day, I know it’s not a big deal, but I don’t want it to be just a regular day, I want it to be memorable…
Moving on, I was raised by a single mother until I was 10. As a child, I changed schools a lot, both in Romania and in Italy.
She remarried afterwards, gave birth to my brother when I was 11 years old, and until my teenage years, we struggled a lot and barely had anything. She had severe post-natal depression, coupled with all the financial struggles, and repaying debts because having a full-time job was not enough, and my grandma was completely bedridden, so we became her carers.
Probably, the worst years of my life so far, I was just feeling better when I was away from home.
My relationship with my mother was not good either, we’ve been making huge improvements in the last years, but there is still so much left to improve.
I know that despite everything, she tried and still tries her best to give me and my brother a good life, and I can't wait until I can repay her for all her sacrifices, take care of her, and offer her a good life.
She deserves so much better.
I have been suffering from a health condition that still has no diagnosis, and it causes me a lot of pain on a daily basis, affecting my mobility and even ability to walk, sometimes even stand.
This year I will ‘celebrate’ 16 years of pain, no answers and lots of condescending doctors that simply don’t even want to find the root of this problem.
Although growing up I pushed myself to perform like the 'regular' kids, practised volleyball, handball, and karate for years until almost the final year of high school, nowadays, I struggle to do even basic things. It has reached that stage where I can barely bend down to tie my shoelaces or pick something up. My condition is rapidly getting worse, and I need surgery as soon as possible, doctors in the U.K. don’t want to do it because I’m too ‘young’ while I am not even able to live my life. I can start limping randomly when I am walking, and it takes a big amount of energy to hide that.
Honestly, I am nothing but a shadow of who I used to be…
It’s so hard to go up and down the stairs, and it’s so painful to walk nowadays, forget going to the gym because even yoga hurts so badly...
My knees are constantly swollen, sometimes I can’t even straighten my legs when I am in bed. When it’s raining, and it’s cold, the pain is even sharper.
I used to love being active and working out, it really made me happy.
I can’t do anything that I used to love, and I am not sure if I am able to start living life without so much pain any time soon.
Do you know how heartbreaking it is to see yourself every day just getting worse?
Do you know how painful it is to look in the mirror and not recognise the person that you see?
I miss who I used to be, maybe I took my body for granted before.
I don’t know how to make this better, I don’t know what to do anymore...
I just want to feel okay, this makes me feel angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed.
I am so tired of feeling like this…
However, I don't have to worry just about this kind of pain.
When I lost so much weight two years ago, I did not do it in a healthy way.
I am aware I wrote articles about it, but I will not delete them because I want to hold myself accountable. I punished my body by eating barely anything, fasting almost all day, trying to walk and work out as much as possible…
I was still miserable and trying to shrink myself even more.
Yeah, I lost weight, I was also losing a fist of hair every day, I was not sleeping, but I kept going because I was finally having my mom’s validation. She made me feel terrible about my body, again and again, even a few months ago.
Two years ago I was also on antibiotics for over six months thanks to doctors, then birth control for like four months and I can’t even begin to explain how much that has messed up my body!
I regret ever listening to that doctor, it fixed nothing, it just made everything much worse.
I have started experiencing extremely painful bloating since the end of 2020, my stomach just gets hard, and it hurts even to touch it. No, it’s not the same as when you eat too much.
This happens even on an empty stomach and nothing makes it go away, it’s extremely uncomfortable.
Last year, I gained a lot of weight in a very short period of time. Insomnia, far too many food sensitivities, and almost iron deficiency…
Turns out they were caused by my gut inflammation, which doesn’t just cause weight gain, but also difficulty losing weight. No matter what I do nowadays, I can’t lose weight at all, I have been trying for months. It's starting to distort my body image and my self-esteem.
Why am I writing about this? Well, the next Self-care series article is about gut health.
I have been learning so much about this and how trauma can cause a gut disorder, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Perhaps you will find it helpful if you are going through a similar experience.
This experience showed me that health is a fragile thing and it's so easy to lose something, including yourself.
This should be a lesson to never take anything for granted...
At times, these things get to me, and I feel terrible. I am trying so hard to fix previous mistakes and to take care of myself.
I have been healing and regulating my nervous system, I moved, so I will be in a better environment, and I am trying to lower my stress.
I am sleeping enough and with no pills, I try to move my body, yet I still don’t know what to do with my gut inflammation. At this point, I am not sure if I can fix this myself, but I will keep trying.
I am doing so much better than before, but I want to be real with you, I still feel down from time to time. I am human, I still struggle because life is not always easy and fair.
Sometimes I have intrusive and negative thoughts, and at times they are so strong that I just want to scream to make them go away.
Sometimes I feel like I am a failure, and I have accomplished nothing. I feel like I am not smart enough, pretty enough, and capable of doing anything. I feel guilty about what happened in the past, I feel like it’s my fault for so many things. Not only that, but I feel like I am not doing enough.
I have moments when I feel like I am not a good daughter, sister, girlfriend, and friend...
However, I know these thoughts do not define me. They are not my reality!
I will never stop working on improving my relationship with myself and learning self-love, and I will not lose hope.
Being vulnerable is not easy, please always remember that life is made of ups and downs and healing is not linear. I will never get tired of repeating this.
When I have moments like these, my first instinct is to try to ignore and push away these thoughts, but I know that if I do that they don’t go away. I try to ground myself by placing one hand on my chest and one on my stomach, I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths.
I have a mantra that I try to repeat:
-I am okay.
-I am safe.
-I am protected.
-I deserve good things.
I want you to remember that no matter how you feel or what kind of thoughts you might be getting, you are worthy of love, kindness, and respect. You deserve good things!
You are more than enough, and please, reach out if you need to talk to someone.
I promise you are not alone, you are not a burden, and no matter what happens, you are strong enough to push through.
I will always be here for you. Take my hand and will walk together, there is light waiting for you, and this storm will go away soon.
Today's song choice: