The Future is Stigma Free


One day in the not too distant future I hope mental health is treated like we treat physical health. I hope I see people meditating like they are exercising. I hope I see people going to check ups with a psychiatrist or counselor like they do their primary care doctors. I hope we admire someone’s peaceful state of mind and emotional maturity like we do their bodies and fitness routines. I hope we digest educational podcasts and books like we eat healthy foods. I hope we refuse garbage for our minds like we do with foods that make us feel gross. I hope we hold each other accountable to our mental health goals as effectively as our fitbits and pedometers.

Ultimately, I hope we regard mental health as important as our physical health, and end the stigma that surrounds it. The only way to do that is to talk about it. Start by wearing a shirt like this one. 100% of the sales of this shirt go to Bring Change to Mind. And for every post that uses #thefutureisstigmafree on Twitter or Instagram $5 will be donated to Bring Change to Mind.

Because, you see, taking care of your mental health not only impacts you, but those around you. ✨🌻 You can get your shirt at Saks Fifth Avenue or Off Fifth. 


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I'm super excited to share with you a cool collaboration with Standard Wax, a local candle company here in Phoenix. They have developed the YAY candle with a scent that is meant to brighten your day, and $5 of every purchase is donated to Bring Change to Mind - a non-profit devoted to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness. 

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As part of this collaboration I have shared some of my experiences with seeking counseling and prioritizing my mental health. You can read the entire interview on their blog. 

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I hope that my journey encourages others to seek help. There are just some things you can't fix on your own, and it's okay to ask for help. In fact, it's more brave to ask for help than it is to white knuckle it. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have. 

Photography by Lunabear Studios.



As I have been sharing about my journey of my sudden separation and divorce, women have come out of the wood work in similar places unsure of what to do. Many of them have written to me in the first days and weeks of their husbands sitting them down and telling them they are leaving. I remember that day all too well, and I remember the days and weeks following were the hardest of my life thus far. I was dealing with shock and trauma, and I had no clue what to do. So, this post is for those women, future women who will find themselves in this spot and for the friends that are walking with them through it. I hope it helps...

It was July 3rd. Our kids happened to sleep over at their grandparents the night before, and we were having a lazy morning just the two of us. I sat down at the kitchen table to make some day plans for our day off, and Ryan sat down across from me. I asked where he wanted to go, and he said he didn't want to go anywhere that day. He then proceeded to tell me had been doing a lot of thinking, and then the words came that he was really unhappy in our marriage. He told me he didn't have fun with me anymore, that he didn't enjoy spending time with me, and that he felt we were incompatible. He felt that we would both be happier and our kids would be happier if we were apart. He told me reconciliation is not an option, and his mind was made up. Of course, I had so many words and I was shocked and confused, especially after recently celebrating our 10 year anniversary. Granted, we had been in marriage counseling for almost three years prior to this moment, but I had been doing very well in my personal counseling.I asked him to help me understand more, and he agreed to go to counseling to help me understand, but again, not to reconcile. 

Those initial couple of days were incredibly difficult. I had to entertain family for 4th of July and pretend everything was okay with a gun shot wound to my heart. I cried so much those days, but I had to be strong for my kids when they were around and not show there was any concern or reason to worry. 

When we got to the counseling office he proceeded to explain again his feelings and decision. The counselor recommended that we meet with a family therapist to help learn what we best for our kids for separation and how to talk to them. We did that a week later. Our counselor also recommended separation at that time since Ryan had already chosen, so he moved in with his parents and I stayed in our home. The kids stayed with me during the week to keep routine, and on the weekends went over to his house so that I could have time to grieve and recoup. There's more to the story, but those are the logistics of what happened in the first couple of weeks.

If you have found your self in this devastating turn of events this is what you need to know. This is traumatic. This is similar to experiencing the sudden death of a family member. The situation is out of your control because the decision is controlled by another, and yet their heart is beating. It is extreme rejection. It is life altering. it is shocking. It is traumatic. Therefore, your body and mind are going to go into survival mode and experience a trauma response. This is how it felt:

- I was numb. I was like a ghost and then I would full on break down when I knew it was safe to let go (no kids around, no people around).
- I started having panic attacks. I started hyperventilating to where I couldn't control my breathing for 5 minutes or so. Scariest shit of my life. I thought I was having a heart-attack and dying. They would come on when I would see Ryan and be in close proximity. 
- My hair started falling out in clumps. (I also have autoimmune disorders and stress aggravates them)
- I couldn't eat. I was physically ill. I started throwing up, and I couldn't eat. I went from 128 to 118 and I'm 5'7". That's waaaaay too thin. 
- I couldn't sleep. I was exhausted from so many sleepless nights. I would fall asleep fine, but I couldn't stay asleep. As soon as 2:30am or 3:30am rolled around I would wake up suddenly. Truthfully, it still happens every night. More about that below...

If you are experiencing these symptoms. You are normal, but here is what I did to combat them.

1. I got a counselor. Part of your panic is that you don't know what to do. They will help you figure out what you need. 
2. Told my best friends and my family. They needed to know to encourage me with phone calls, text messages, to come and sit with me, etc. Don't keep it a secret from close, trustworthy peple that can help you and are for your marriage. Don't share with people that are going to be divisive. 
3. Made an appointment with my primary care doctor. I shared with my doctor what had happened, and she prescribed Zophran for nausea. It helped me have more of an appetite. I also got anti-anxiety meds to use as needed. I actually haven't taken them at all, but it was a comfort to have. I honestly should have taken them when I knew I was going to see Ryan because I would have avoided some serious panic attacks that scared my children. I would also recommend getting an STD test if that's applicable to your situation.
4. Ate liquid foods. Peanut butter, banana and chocolate smoothies were the only thing I could eat. I think I survived on a week of those. 
5. Got childcare. Babysitters and family chipped in to help give me some self-care time and kept the kids having fun. 
6. Went to church - My faith is what sustained and continues to sustain me. It puts my fears at ease and gives me wisdom. 
7. Wrote out my feelings in a journal a LOT. You'll want to text and talk to your spouse, but I would advise only doing that when you are stable to avoid more damage and hurt.
8. Avoid oversharing to kids. Sought out advice from therapists specializing in childhood development. Don't wing talking to your kids. Seek wisdom from professionals that will help your kids adjust the best through this process. Make sure both parents go together. 
9. No need to make lawyer calls right away. Don't panic! Divorce proceedings can't happen without you. Ask for a month of time to catch your breath, sort your emotions and feelings and needs. 
10. Avoid triggers. I only watched happy sitcoms for a long time. The airport was a hard place to be for me because it was a lot of happy couples and families. Avoid places and things that are going to send you into panic. 
11. Exercise. Let your stress out through exercise. It's good for your mind and body. 

More resources to come. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.


This is a post I have been wanting to write for several months now, and I'm so glad it is a topic that is part of the Real Mom Series that some other female bloggers will be addressing today as well. Please be sure to read their personal stories as we shine some light on how we are trying to take care of our bodies and minds while balancing the role of motherhood: Effortless Chic / Sarah Sherman Samuel / Apartment 34 / The Refined Woman / Parker Etc. / A Daily Something / Our Style Stories / Sacramento Street

This is me four months postpartum. I'm 148 pounds in this picture and wearing size 12 jeans. I took these photos knowing that I wanted to eventually discuss this topic of caring for your body and mind postpartum because this is probably the hardest thing for me to do for myself. In fact, loving my body and mind well has been hard for me to do all of my life, but motherhood definitely makes it more challenging. (Click here to read about my past body struggles). My hope is that any mom that reads this and feels similarly knows that she's not alone and that she is completely normal.

Motherhood forever changes your body and mind no matter if you have carried a child or not. Worries that were never there before race through your brain, sleeping through the night is a rarity for months, and time for yourself seems to be scarce. And, if you have had the gift of carrying a child in your body (I purposely say gift because I recognize that not every woman gets this chance even if they want it), you know that your body changes drastically during and after baby. This change is something I felt anxious about before I got pregnant with Elle and it returned when I was pregnant with Levi.

The funny thing is that my body was in better shape after Elle was born. I was thinner, I started to eat a lot better and go to the gym 3-4 times a week, my stress levels decreased, my strength increased, my energy increased, my mind was able to relax, I started sleeping better and my clothes fit better. (See my 30 flirty and thriving process). So, after bouncing back better than before, why in the world would I be anxious again about the changes in my body for my second pregnancy? 

Well, I have even less time juggling two kids, my business has grown since my first pregnancy and I'm older. That's reality, folks! Is having another child the greatest gift in the world? YES! Would I trade it for anything? NO! Would I go through this again? In a heartbeat! That doesn't mean my struggles to love my mind and body go away. That doesn't mean I should just automatically feel like celebrating these stretch marks, loose skin and added pounds. Especially, given my profession as a style blogger, it's incredibly hard to stand in front of a camera time after time posing myself in looser clothing to hide the muffin top.

But the voices around me sometimes pile on guilt for having this frustration and dissatisfaction with my physical state. I hear, "How dare you complain for a second about these changes when you have the gift of children when so many women don't?! How can you complain when you have all of your limbs, a working heart, no cancer?..."

Thankfulness for my children and body is so evident in my words and actions, but knowing that I have the potential to feel and be better than I currently feel haunts me every time I look in the mirror and see a tired face, weak, and out of shape.

It's a process and it takes time. That's what I remember about my last pregnancy and that's what I have to constantly say to myself this time around. "Be patient with yourself, Alex. You will feel like yourself once again." I can't really rush it as much as I want to. Some of it isn't even in my control. Levi is still having a hard time kicking the 4am feeding, but I know he will eventually get there and that this is only a season. In fact, I'm now 142 pounds and a size 10 two months later. Change has been made, and though I feel weaker than ever due to some complications with my thyroid, it's an encouragement to me that progress is there. 

So, to all of you mamas who might be in the same place or even ten years postpartum, it is possible for us to feel the best versions of ourselves. If there is a normal reason for dissatisfaction with our bodies that is in our control and within healthy expectations, let's remind ourselves that progress is possible even if it comes slowly. Just be patient with yourself. 

If you are someone that is dealing with unrealistic levels of dissatisfaction and trying to control your body in unhealthy ways, please seek help with a counselor. I'm more than happy to recommend some if you live in Arizona. 

Photos by Rennai Hoefer