Here’s a quick little story that really sheds some light on my childhood. I was born with a cleft palate and underwent my first plastic surgery at eight months old. I guess I’ll never be able to say I haven’t “gone under the knife.” I didn't really have much of a choice, I was a baby. For the next 18 years my jaw is all I saw when I looked in the mirror. I was really self conscious about it and my self-esteem, self-worth and confidence took a major hit a result. This birth defect affected my entire life and I still struggle to cope with the psychological effects of having been bullied for being "different." As a child I struggled with eating, speech, and frequent ear infections, and in adolescent years that led into a lack of social skills, behavioral issues, and suicidal tendencies.
I always kept a competitive athletic lifestyle. I pursued soccer for 13 years in hopes of getting a free education. Due to the timing of my jaw surgery, that didn't happen. This was a rough time for me and so I started cutting because I didn't have the support I needed. When I began university, it wasn't until my second year that I started to notice I was developing a lot of bad habits. I was partying way too much and spent 5-6 days a week either working in the club or going out to the club with friends. I was drinking way too much, barely sleeping, and eating one meal or so a day when I had time. I was working myself into the ground day in day out for about 2 years before my life took a turn. My lifestyle was out of control, I was out of control and I had three near death car accidents in one year. I remember in one instance I worked five shifts back to back in three days with no sleep at all.
I wanted to get away from all the bad influences in my life, I felt like everyone else was dictating my path and I had no control. The nightclub environment was toxic, and a lot of my friends were industry people who didn't share the same desires as me. There was only one thing keeping me going at this point and that was to save for my escape to Texas. I had met a girl online and was head over heels for her and wanted a change of scenery anyway. So after 6 months of talking back and forth I packed my stuff and moved to Texas to figure out my new life with her.
Three months after my transition to Texas, I was sitting in my new girlfriend’s sister's living room in LA, when I realized I was still so unhappy. I mean, here I was locked up in the house all day, looking for the next opportunity to make a quick dollar. I spent so much of my time surfing the internet looking for modelling gigs, acting gigs, serving gigs, bar tending gigs, pretty much anything to stay afloat. I hadn’t even realized that two months had gone by, and I had barely left the house. Ironically enough, the whole purpose of being in LA was to get away, kick start a new lifestyle, and leave all the garbage behind. I felt my life was a roller coaster prior to moving out to LA, so it seemed like exactly the thing I needed at the time. I was 22 years old with no real obligations other than a phone bill, car insurance and student debts, I figured why not take off for a bit. Who turns down palm trees and a foreign love affair? But none of it solved anything. I was stuck in my thoughts and the real underlying issues.
Then it hit me, I had gone so far off track and was addicted to escaping my pain through any form of instant gratification. It was like my impulse control was non-existent. When I came to realize I was actually coping with BPD, Bipolar Disorder and addiction my journey towards recovery began. My addiction was to all things that brought me joy and numbed the realities I didn't want to face, had to be addressed. I thought the move was going to be everything I wanted and needed, instead I was at the lowest low I had ever been through. This also wasn’t the first time my life was in shambles. I really started to reflect on my lifestyle, my choices and where I had gone wrong. I had always had ups and downs, and struggled with my overall happiness. However, this was the first time I took a look in the mirror, and felt like I was so far from who I used to be. My journey to recovery through therapy, nutrition and fitness has been long but rewarding. My diagnoses helped me to navigate all of the cognitive and behavioural issues I was facing. However, present day I continue to work on deconstructing 24 years of bad habits, pain and trauma.