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We are so excited to introduce you to our newest blog writer, Alexis Horne! As an American now living in South Africa, Alexis comes to us with a wealth of experience and insights on coping with change, overcoming trauma, and being resilient.

To help you get to know her better, we sat down for a quick interview where Alexis shared a bit more about her own mental health journey, personal experiences, and key learnings that she has developed over the years.

5 things I have learned about mental health

Acknowledging trauma leads to healing

Q: How has trauma impacted your mental health journey and how have you managed it? 

“Trauma has been a big part of my mental health journey, and I know it is very significant in lots of other people’s journeys too. As someone who has experienced a lot of trauma throughout my life, I’ve realized that acknowledging my trauma and talking about my trauma is extremely important. A huge part of my healing journey has been to seek out professional psychologists or counselors that can help me process and work through the trauma and experiences I’ve been carrying. 

Additionally, it’s important to know that trauma looks different to each person. What can be traumatic to me, may not be traumatic to someone else; but regardless of that, the trauma that each person carries is valid and should be handled with care.

At the Lily Jo Project, we recognize the significance of traumatic experiences in contributing to mental health problems. If you are struggling to cope with a significant trauma in your life we recommend seeking help and advice from mental health professionals or services, some of which are listed here.  If you would like more information about trauma, read about it here from MindUK or here, from the Lily Jo Project’s resources on childhood trauma.

Set good boundaries in your personal life

Q: Why is boundary setting so important for you? 

“Learning to set boundaries with friends, family members, and various people in my life has been extremely crucial for the sake of my mental health and wellbeing. I’ve learned the hard way that allowing people access to your life without proper boundaries can result in a lot of unnecessary and unwanted hurt, stress, anxiety, depression, anger, and resentment. I used to think that setting boundaries was selfish, but I’ve learned that it’s crucial for healthy relationships and for my mental health. The better I take care of myself, the better I can take care of others in return.

Find the mental health professional who is right for you

Q: Can you expand on this a little more?

“Psychologists, counselors, and mentors are not a “one size fit all” deal. As people, we have many differences and things that make us each unique. This is the same with professionals in the mental health field! 

It’s perfectly okay to “shop around” when looking for someone to help you professionally. It’s important to make sure that you find someone that you can connect and feel comfortable with, has similar values, and also specializes in the specific field of help that you need. If it doesn’t work out with one counselor, that’s okay. Keep searching until you find the right one for you because you’re going to be spending a lot of time with that person.”

If you are looking for a therapist, counselor, mentor or any kind of professional mental health support and are unsure where to start, take a look at MindUK’s guide ‘How to find a therapist,’ and remember, your GP can always offer advice and support on finding suitable mental health services. 

Take care of your body

Q: What one piece of advice would you give about taking care of yourself physically?

“Stay away from drugs and/or alcohol. When I was younger, I was in so much pain that I felt the only way to stop it was by numbing myself with alcohol or pills but instead, I nearly lost my life from an overdose. 

Numbing the pain does not equal healing. It can also create more dependency problems for you down the road like alcoholism or a drug addiction. It’s important to find healthy ways to cope and heal from the circumstances life throws at us. And even though life might feel like it’s constantly spinning out of control, there IS hope and there are people waiting out there to help you through it.”

If you, or someone you love is struggling with drug/alcohol addiction or abuse and are looking for support or advice, We Are With You is a UK based charity that supports people struggling with these issues. Find advice and help on their website, here.

Forgiveness helps you heal

Q: How has forgiveness impacted your mental health journey? 

“Forgiveness is so important to me. It’s not been an easy thing for me – I’m a person that can hold grudges easily and for a long time. But I’ve learned that holding onto grudges doesn’t hurt anyone except myself. Learning to forgive and move on has helped me release a lot of the emotional pain that used to weigh heavily on my shoulders. Forgiveness isn’t for the benefit of the other person, but for the benefit of yourself. It’s also important to understand that forgiveness doesn’t equal trust – it’s okay to forgive someone and not immediately trust that person again.

More About Alexis 

Originally from the USA, Alexis is living in South Africa and has spent several years volunteering with an organisation; working with youth at risk and young people coming out of a life of crime and gang culture. She is passionate about mental health and is working towards becoming a Clinical Psychologist in the near future.

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