Name: Lexie Manion
City: Medford, NJ
Fav thing about your city: I love the wildlife here, especially the deer!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself! I used to play the violin and could probably pick one up today and be able to play Love Story by Taylor Swift (that’s the first song I memorized on it years ago!).
What is your connection to mental illness?
I was 15 years old when I was diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa, anxiety and depression. I vividly remember telling my doctor that I didn’t think the diagnosis were correct. I truly hated that I was diagnosed with these mental illnesses. I hated myself more than anything at that age. It felt like a death sentence.
Now, at 22 years old, I see mental illness diagnosis doing so much good. I see them more as a reason to why I react or feel certain ways. Diagnosis only exist so a person can receive the proper treatment. It did take me some time to warm up to that idea. I think it’s difficult to see there is life beyond those times of sheer pain and struggle. However, I see now that my “labels” are just a way so I can get well again. There is stigma around being “mentally ill” and I feel ashamed at times for having these struggles; the silver lining though is that now I am more accepting of them. I am learning that my struggles are just going to be a part of my life. It is difficult to define myself outside of my illness. I try to define myself as a human being first, and then I remind myself that I’m not what I’ve done when I’ve struggled most, but I am what I’ve overcome.
What does your everyday look like?
My everyday currently looks like job searching, cleaning, spending time with friends and family, and therapy! I am in the process of moving right now so that has been hectic. Job searching is also stressful but I am confident I will be able to find something soon!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
My advice for younger Lexie would be to try to focus more on herself and be honest with herself. I feel like I got caught up in chasing everyone else’s approval that I forgot that I could trust my own instincts. That’s a concept I am currently working on because the negative reinforcement of needing other people’s approval at a young age continues to make me hesitate and second guess myself. It is tough but I feel like I am making progress with that. It is never too late and we are never “too old” to work on bettering ourselves.
Who is a Role Model to you?
One of my former high school teachers is a positive Role Model to me. (Shout out to Mrs. Brown!). She has always been very supportive and I feel like she just gets it. It’s nice to talk to someone who has some distance from understanding mental illness, but who still cares. To me, she’s proof that you don’t have to be in the depths of mental illness to be compassionate and supportive.
I feel like many people are weary of those who struggle with mental illness because they don’t want the responsibility of saving a life. Maybe there are people struggling who want their supports to help them in that way. However, I think there can be a healthy balance with responsibility. I think it is a lot to ask someone who isn’t a professional to help them in that way because sometimes they just aren’t equipped with the skills to help. I have had my moments of expecting others to help when they were simply unable to. And I’ve had moments where I asked too much from Mrs. Brown. Having open communication and me having a crisis plan in place when I need help beyond what she can offer has probably helped the most.
I think that finding this support in a former teacher of mine speaks volumes in how there truly are good people out there. Seeking professional help is sometimes necessary and I encourage it. For myself, I used to second guess what a professional would say because I felt like they were being paid to care. I don’t feel like that with my current therapist, but still, it is nice to know that there are people out there who stand by your side not because they have to, but because they want to and because they believe in you.
How do you spend your Self-Care Sunday?
Sometimes I spend my Self-Care Sunday doing the more well-known acts of self-care – like taking a shower, putting on lotion, painting my nails, etc. Other times, I spend my Self-Care Sunday cleaning my room, doing laundry, or playing with my dogs. I feel like self-care varies person to person, and it can also vary day-to-day; not every self-care routine will be helpful for every person and sometimes they won’t be helpful for the same person even every day. The beauty about acts of self-care is that they can be interchangeable. For every act of self-care that doesn’t work well for you in that moment, there are also several more that you can try instead. And to me, I think self-care is necessary for every person. It isn’t selfish at all -it is a positive and effective way to relax and “recharge”.