At the Intersection of Chronic Illness and Sisterhood, Alexis Bean has Got her Big Girl Panties
We first met Alexis Bean in a room that was buzzing with the creative energy of over a dozen women of color who were just trying to get sh*t done. I’ll admit, it was the name of her blog “Big Girl Panties Life” that had us all hooked, but it was the power of her story and the vision she was manifesting that awed us through her presentation. Through illness and loss, Lex is building a community that is standing in vulnerability and sharing their experiences with life and illness.
My name is Alexis Bean ‐ I was born and raised in the island of Bermuda but I have also lived in New York City where I attended university. These days, I am back living and working in Bermuda but also treat Atlanta as a second home. I’ve always dreamt about living in another country so we’ll see if I make that a reality! I grew up as a track athlete but my favorite thing to do is actually just relax and binge watch Netflix on my couch. I’m also a foodie and I love to travel (I’m aiming to visit 30 countries by the time I’m 30 years old #30before30)
I have definitely struggled with finding peace after encountering different forms of trauma in my life. My mom suddenly passed away from Stage 4 brain cancer just three days before my 18th birthday (she was diagnosed only one month prior). I struggled with depression for about a year (maybe longer) after losing her – It was the most devastating experience I have ever gone through to say the least and it completely changed me. Five years later, I started experiencing health issues and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 23.
There is no magic formula on how to carry on with your life after the loss of a loved one (especially a parent). Or when trying to rebuild after an illness or disease attacks your body. Nevertheless, I know that my close relationship with my mom and my faith in Christ has definitely helped shape who I have become over the past decade. I have learned to fight my fears with my faith. We cannot stop the fact that we will face troubles in life, and sometimes we will feel like our backs are against the wall and that there is no real way to recover from disaster. But that is the furthest thing from the truth. My faith, positivity and resiliency have strengthened me and shown me renewed peace.
I love to write ‐ I always have since I was a little girl but I think it became more evident after I ‘retired’ from track competitively. I also love to help and encourage people. I think people will notice that in almost everything that I do. These days I hope to encourage people through my blog/vlog Big Girl Panties Life. By opening up about my personal struggles and triumphs, I hope that I can inspire at least one person who may be going through something similar.
My advice would be to trust how you feel (regardless if it is positive or negative) and understand that it is okay to feel that way. And more importantly, trust and believe that one day you can rise up from that difficult situation that you’re going through.
Use your resources! Mine were:
1. God (Praying / leaning on Him in the darkest times / standing firm in my faith even when everything was going wrong)
2. A book called Medical Medium by Anthony William / @MedicalMedium on Instagram (such a wealth of knowledge concerning natural healing and root causes/explanations on illnesses)
3. Trusted family and friends (to be in their presence for encouragement and to uplift my spirits / open up about how I’m feeling with my struggles / just being there because you might be going through the same struggle (I.e. loss of a loved one).
4. Mindifi meditation apps (I found these apps when I was first diagnosed with MS and going through a terrible relapse and trying to recover. I had never meditated before and was definitely skeptical at first ‐ but the apps were truly a Godsend. It was a little pricey but there are so many different tracks that you can listen to and keep for years to come. Definitely worth it!)
5. Seek help from trusted professionals (Therapist or Psychologist / Counselor / Church Pastor / Medical Physician ‐ I utilized counsel from each of these persons in my life for both my mom’s passing and my illness diagnosis. It is one example of you proactively taking action and choosing to rise up from your struggles.
6. Trust yourself ‐ Do your own added research and seek your own answers outside of what others say as well. This goes for any struggle affecting your physical, mental and spiritual health. This is your life so you must play the biggest part in your ‘recovery’ and overall well‐being.
7. In all, take care of your Body, Soul and Spirit at all times! Especially after you experience some form of tragedy or trauma. I do not believe that it’s a coincidence that I was diagnosed with MS just a few years after I lost my mom. Not to say that it was to blame, but stress and mental health challenges like depression can help trigger the onset of chronic illness. That is why I’m so passionate about sharing my story and talking about these subjects with BGP Life.
A woman who trusts her own path in life. This is what I believe in my core and use this mindset, along with everything else that I’ve mentioned in this discussion to live my best life and thrive.
YouTube Big Girl Panties Life