Name: Alonso Olvera-Gonzalez
City: Seattle, WA
Fav thing about your city: The proximity to nature!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself! I dance in the Professional Division at the Pacific Northwest Ballet.
What is your connection to mental illness?
My relationship with mental illness is a lifelong one. I don't ever remember a time when I wasn't anxious. Because of my anxiety, I often have a hard time feeling my emotions to their full extent. In addition to my anxiety, I have experienced bouts of depression since I was little. However, in 2014 when I was forced to stop dancing temporarily due to an injury, my anxiety and depression blew up into an eating disorder. I continued to struggle with eating for almost a year before I began formal therapy for it and was eventually hospitalized. The year after I was hospitalized was not much better... My grandmother who help my single mother raise me was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and died several months later, I had two foot surgeries so that I could get back to dance, and had appendicitis which was caused by a cancerous tumor. All this added stress triggered my disorders and made every day a struggle to get through, Here I am now though, weight restored, eating properly, managing my anxiety, and keeping my moods in check. It's sad to say, but I most likely wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for my amazing team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, dietitians, friends, family, and people like all of you pushing through struggles and fighting against stigma.
What does your everyday look like?
I tend to wake up early to have breakfast and check emails before heading off to my first ballet class at 8:30AM. I’m then at the studios pretty much the rest of the day, busy with extra classes and rehearsals. On my breaks, I go to different coffee shops in my neighborhood and read a bit of a book. Finally, around 6PM I head back home and have dinner and try and go to bed around 10pm. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I also take a college class in the evenings through Seattle University.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to not fear sharing my story. I have received such great responses from sharing my mental illness stories and I know it has helped many people. Talking about personal experiences with mental illness in an unashamed way is the best way to fight stigma.
Who is a Role Model to you?
Anyone who is brave enough to stand up against stigma, share their mental illness stories, and advocate for mental health awareness is a role model to me.
How do you spend your Self-Care Sunday?
I like to sleep in as late as my body wants to then either cook a nice breakfast or go out to brunch. If it's not raining then I'll most likely go on a walk in one of Seattle’s great parks. If it's raining, I'll curl up on the couch and watch a movie. I end the day by taking a hot shower or bath and playing with my hamster before bed.
Photos by Jade Butler