Alexia Monardo's Story

Perhaps my story is a little different from the rest perhaps that is why I didn’t consider it valid or relevant for most of my life. However I am human, i experience, I feel, I hurt, and self-awareness has been a pathway towards healing for me. Mental illness does not always start with a doctor, a diagnosis, and medication. Everyone can be affected by their mental health at some point of their life, and that is why I must share my story. Some days I have to fight really really hard to be happy, as my initial thoughts when I wake up in the morning are fear and sadness. I have never been diagnosed, as I have always felt it is manageable to handle on my own. I constantly wonder if it is some form of mental illness, or simply suppressed trauma from my childhood. For most of my teenage years I didn’t think my parents unhealthy marriage and divorce had an effect on me, but as each day passes I realize that the scars feel a lot deeper than they may appear. My father is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression. Although he loves my brothers and I very much,  his illness got the best of him for majority of my childhood and teenage years. His father was an alcoholic and physically abusive to him, his siblings, and his mother. Another person in my bloodline crippled by some form of undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. As a result of that, my dad was not able to be the best example of a father or husband. I have chosen forgiveness instead of resentment in order to salvage and build a healthy relationship with him these past years. At the core I love my father very much. I value each day that he displays betterment, and shows my brothers and I love and support. About 7 years ago my oldest brother was is diagnosed with obsessive compulsive anxiety disorder. If you’ve never lived with mental illness in your home, you may not understand how difficult it is for all family members involved. I’ve lived in constant fear wondering if either one of them would take their own life. I’ve wondered if I have done enough to help them to the best of my capabilities. When someone you love has a mental illness, it feels like you are holding them close while they are standing underneath a dark cloud.You can’t help but feel the rain that they are feeling. I felt my brothers pain in the depths of my chest like it was my own. We would cry endlessly hoping to find a solution to help him. I wanted to do anything and everything to take his pain away. Getting to know a family member’s mental illness is almost like getting to know a second person within them. Hearing his stories and feeling his sadness would make me wonder if I carried parts of the same illness in me. Since we shared the same childhood, I wondered if there was an overlap with some of our emotions. In 2015 I experienced a very difficult breakup with my ex of 5 years. I now know that as a child, not seeing my parents have a functional healthy and loving relationship took a toll on me. I hadn’t anticipated it would affect me in my own relationship so many years later. After my breakup I slumped into a deep heartbreak depression on and off for years. No matter what I did, how hard I tried to move on, that sadness kept me in bed, kept me sobbing, kept me nauseous and anxious daily. My breakup had unleashed an over abundance of internal turmoil I had been holding onto for years. Not even my love and passion for dance was helping me out of this one. I was making poor decisions that did not reflect who I actually am at the core. I was jaded and I did not like who I was becoming. I knew something had to change. In an attempt to save my happiness I started buying every self-help/wellness book you can think of. It felt like a part of me had died and I was desperate to get her back. So I started going to the gym 5-6 times a week, accompanied by yoga and meditating. I slowly started doing things that made me happy again. I witnessed myself getting stronger and healthier, and I wanted to share my personal discoveries with others. In 2017 I founded my company I Am Power Movement. With this workshop I am able to travel to different high schools and elementary schools in Ontario to educate students on the importance of self awareness, mental health education, and the healing powers of physical movement. It is my goal to break the stigma around mental illness and empower students with the tools they need to feel comfortable talking and learning about mental and physical health care. Through the creation of I Am Power Movement, teaching hundreds of students gives me the opportunity to heal myself daily while committing to a life of self love and development. Throughout my journey I am learning that we are all stronger together. 



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