Over the past few years, I’ve been spending a lot of time learning to manage my mental health. For anyone who experiences any sort of struggle with mental health, I think this is where I’m supposed to call out a possible trigger warning.

Mental health is something I began to talk very openly about 2 or 3 years ago—mostly on social media, but that also led to more open conversations IRL too. I knew I had depression and anxiety and at a certain point I had let it take control of every minute and every experience in my life. Throughout the past few years of learning to manage and maintain mental wellness, I’ve been learning SO. MUCH. about myself. The past 8 years, I’ve been struggling with chronic pain in various ways throughout my body so I’ve been focusing a lot on how to heal and find relief. Through all the therapy and the doctors, specialists, dietitians, health coaches (insane medical bills), and all the alternative medicine practices I’ve tried, one of my biggest takeaways is this…

When we deny any part of who we are, our body knows. Our brain knows. Yes, there are a lot of factors that contribute to dis-ease in the body, but I’ve been learning that for me, one of the biggest ones is not being true to and not listening to MYSELF. Not letting me be FULLY and whole-heartedly myself.

My functional doctor (shout out to functional doctors! he saved my life) once told me that 95% of our brain activity is beyond our conscious awareness. This really stuck with me. Being a person who passes as a straight cis woman (who also has been in a relationship with a straight cis man for nearly 10 years) made it easier for me to deny essential parts of myself for so long. It’s still weird and new for me to say or discuss out loud sometimes, but I AM QUEER. I AM NON-BINARY. I AM HUMAN. And I AM PROUD. No matter how hard I try to hide it, my body and my brain has always known this is who I am, and it’s been trying to send me signals for so many years.

It’s very sad that it’s so hard for many of us to accept and love ourselves and be who we are unconditionally. Hiding contributes to so much pain. I’m so grateful to have incredible friends and a partner who have inspired me and support me to be me no matter what that looks like—just by simply being true to themselves. I really look up to those who have been visible for so long and live in whatever way is best for them. I’m slowly learning to do that for myself—little by little—and let me tell you, freedom feels so damn good.

Alexa portrait

Alexa Guanlao Sison (they/them/theirs) is a Pilipinx in Columbus, Ohio who works to decolonize their life and live as ethically and sustainably as possible. Professionally, they work as a graphic designer in the health and wellness industry. You can see more of their design work or get in contact at alexagsison.com or follow along with their journey on Insta @noryandfely

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