The story of Alexa is one I have been wanting to share for a long time. This beautiful being came into my life in the most organic way of 2016, through social media. She posted a declaration of self love on a Facebook group we are both apart of to inspire other women of our community. While most of these posts usually go unnoticed as they flood my feed, something about Alexa stuck out. Here is her story:
At the age of 10, Alexa started breaking out. The thought: “What’s wrong with me?” started ringing in this little 5th graders head as she started to recognize that many other kids her age weren’t facing the same struggle. This was only the beginning of an almost 2 decade long battle with the chronic, inflammatory disease of acne. “Things only got worse” she said while we spoke on a Monday morning a couple of weeks ago. Alexa was a competitive dancer who suffered an injury that led her to require emergency brain surgery. As a former dancer myself, I felt the pain in her voice when she was describing this time in her life. Dancing is an outlet that can help shape a person’s ability to learn discipline, creativity, athleticism and what it is like to be apart of a team. To have a sudden stop at a crucial time of development can be detrimental to any young person. But in Alexa’s case, it was life or death. Alexa healed from her brain surgery and so she went on to start trying to heal her acne. This included approximately $10,000 worth of microdermabrasion facials. Unfortunately, after her acne started to clear a little bit she required another surgery - this time for her hip. That’s when the acne came back. Proactiv, differin, tetracycline were just a few of the trial and error acne band-aids her dermatologist prescribed. At this point her parents became an extremely important part of her daily care. Her reliance of them prevented her from certain aspects of young teenage life, so the common prescription of birth control for acne only came at the age of 17/18. This started to help, until the side effects made her so uncomfortable in her body she had to stop. “Taking the pill is the equivalent of settling in a relationship” she says of her experience which made me laugh and think of how truthful and sad that actually is.
Now at this point she had moved to NYC from her home state of Florida to pursue her dreams of acting, singing and dancing (YAY she’s able to dance again!). Within 6 months the acne, which was under mild control, started to come back with a vengeance. Having other girls in her school get the parts she was perfect for started to wear on her self esteem once again. So this time Alexa decided to visit a new dermatologist who wanted to suggested she become the subject of the MTV documentary series “TRUE LIFE: I have acne”. Alexa would be the subject in the series who would be documented experimenting with Accutane. At 18 years old, she went in for consistent blood and urine tests so that her doctor could monitor her side effects with the controversial drug. One of the major side effects is thoughts of suicide which Alexa experienced as well as joint pain. At this point, she was thinking “Why am I so different?” but the thing is it worked. The acne went away and she finally started to feel like a new person.
During the entirety of her struggle with acne, Alexa did not engage in the dating scene much like her peers. This lack of intimacy became painful as she was not giving or receiving love. The next part of her story is when things actually started to turn around. Alexa booked a part in a dance film and started to realize that the other dancers showed up with a much healthier mindset. She became close with one of the other cast members who would later move to LA and on one of her first visits to the West Coast, she reconnected with her friend. He asked her the question that sparked the biggest lightbulb : “Do you have problems with your digestion?”. That slowly started opening up the door to the world of wellness Alexa would soon dive into.
With the acne back in full swing, she was on another cocktail of prescriptions with the thought of “One day I’ll be able to be healthy”. Back in NYC, Alexa started attended yoga classes where she was introduced to a community of health oriented individuals who accepted Alexa just as she was. She was even invited to sing at her yoga teachers’ class. Finally she had found a community with answers on how to get better for her mind, body and spirit.
Now living in LA, Alexa is the epitome of self acceptance and holds herself accountable to lead her best life: “God puts us on the earth to flourish” she states while holding the belief that we are the only ones who can save ourselves. With the mentality that her acne will only be healed with a total mind, body and spirit approach she does not judge herself anymore. 6 months ago her acne came back after moving to LA and through a moment of clarity she realized she could use her gift of songwriting to implement a mantra ritual. She wrote an incredibly uplifting song about what it would be like to have clear skin and how it would actually feel. Her redirection of thoughts made her focus on creating her own opportunity to solve her problem. Lacking a community in a new city can really stall someone’s growth so she started hosting dinner parties for whoever would be interested in learning how to live a healthy lifestyle. The choice to eat healthy isn’t a phase for Alexa and it takes a lot of courage and self love to invite dates out for green juice instead of cocktails. Everyone is different and realizing your journey is just as much a roller coaster as anyone else may helps you learn that you are not alone. Find your community of like minded people who also believe they deserve an incredible life and allow yourself to experience your journey. Acne isn’t an overnight fix and you are not the only one who may be struggling. Start by reaching out and you will find that “love is very healing”. But it always starts with the decision to love yourself.
I’m proud to call Alexa an inspiration for not only myself but for many others struggling with acne. By sharing her story, I hope it can help shed light that health isn’t an overnight fix. It’s a life long commitment to loving yourself and prioritizing your well being. After all, you are the only one who can take that leap and once you do, you will be filled with a community waiting to support you.