Hello! My name is Alexia Hogan and you're probably wondering why I created this store. Well, it's kind of a long story, but because I want to encourage others to be transparent and unashamed to talk about their mental health, I want to lead by example and share.
It is my hope that by sharing, I will encourage others to do the same. And if you're reading this and really struggling to find hope, let me be the one to tell you that you have everything to hope for even if you can't see it right now.
I come from a loving family, but at the age of 12, I witnessed my grandmother die of a sudden massive heart attack. And soon after, my family moved to a new town where I didn’t adjust well...at all.
I experienced bullying and a great deal of isolation, and my mental health quickly deteriorated.
I felt trapped in my body and trapped in a world I didn’t want to exist in. And I quietly held the strong belief that I would not live a long life. I even welcomed it.
At age 15, I had a near death experience after a car I was riding in swerved off the highway. Most kids my age would have been terrified, but I was filled with a sense of calm and relief as I closed my eyes and quietly told God that I was ready to meet Him.
That same year, I developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in the form of distressing and agonizing intrusive thoughts. I suffered in silence day in and day out not knowing that what I was experiencing was a medical condition.
Suicidal ideations became more and more frequent during and after college, and everything went completely out of control after my first year of grad school in 2009.
In springtime of that year, I suffered a major trauma, went to the ICU for pneumonia, and lost over 20 lbs in the span of a couple months.
That summer, I was placed in the mental ward of the hospital after suffering a severe panic episode and psychosis.
I lost touch of reality and had a complete mental, physical, and emotional breakdown. My condition was so extreme, I was initially placed in the schizophrenic wing.
I had never experienced that degree of humiliation, pain, anxiety, terror, and soul-crushing depression in my entire life.
I was barely 23, but my entire life had come crashing down, and I didn't understand why.
As I sat at the edge of my hospital bed, tears streamed down my face as I sat with high blood pressure. I looked out of the narrow window in front of me and thought, How did I end up here? I'm not crazy. I've never been crazy.
After my hospitalization, I suffered from debilitating agoraphobia and panic disorder for several years.
At my worst, I couldn't take a shower without someone sitting on the toilet seat or leave the house for fear of having a panic episode that would lead to another hospitalization or even death.
Day to day living was beyond difficult, and I contemplated suicide often, but never actually formulated plans.
I managed to keep a small amount of hope even though my life had become harder than I ever fathomed it could be.
But unfortunately, there did come a day where I decided to throw in the towel for good.
At that point, about 9 years had passed since the hospitalizations. I was on the eve of my 31st birthday and I still had to be sedated to fall asleep each night.
I was lonelier and more detached from the world around me than I'd ever been before.
I was still struggling with body aches and pains associated with depression.
My OCD progressed to a severity I'd never experienced before, and I still had not found the courage to seek treatment after over 15 years of battling with the disorder.
It was gut-wrenching to go to work everyday only to feel judged, misunderstood, rejected, and stressed with work my brain couldn't keep up with.
I felt like my youth had passed me by.
I felt socially disconnected and like I was not actually a part of the world around me.
I suffered from terrible low self-esteem, and I was not able to form romantic relationships. I had never been in a long-term romantic relationship at all.
I felt light years away from normalcy and happiness.
I came to a point where I genuinely lost all hope for the future.
And I looked around and concluded that the world was pointless and arbitrary. If people's lives were good, it was because they were lucky. But I felt like life had dealt me a cruel hand.
So I reasoned that it was okay for me to let go of my pointless and excruciatingly painful life.
I convinced myself that there was no rule that I had to suffer so much pain day in and day out. There was no rule that said I had to continue carrying:
- Panic Attacks
- A stressful job
- Low Self-Esteem
- Constant Fatigue and Body Aches
- Chronic Insomnia
- Intense Anger
- And all the other things I was feeling at the time that I still can't put into words...
I had sunken to a place that literally no one could get me out of. I had completely succumbed.
So the morning of Aug. 2nd, 2017, my birthday, I decided on the way to work that I wasn't going to wake up to see Aug. 3rd, 2017.
I planned to take every bottle of prescription and over-the-counter pills I could find.
It was the first time in my entire life that I had ever made solid plans to end my life. And not a soul knew but me.
I didn't think to myself, I need to go to the ER. I didn't think, I need to reach out to a friend because I feel on the edge of hurting myself and I need someone to stop me. And I certainly didn't think, I need to reach out to the suicide hotline.
The only thought in my mind was, It's time for me to end this.
And that was that.
I'd reached my limit.
I'd given up.
I was done.
At no point driving to work that day did I think to myself, Alexia, you shouldn't commit suicide.
I was prepared to face cardiac arrest, foaming at the mouth, eyes rolling in the back of my head, having a seizure, etc., rather than being alive the next day.
My mind was made up, and I drove in silence for almost the entire 45-minute ride to work.
But as I was about one and a half minutes away from parking and getting out of the car, something told me to break the silence and turn on the radio.
I still can't tell you what made me turn on the radio when I was about to get out of the car, but something propelled me to lift my arm and press the button.
My radio was set to NPR, so I figured I'd just be listening to a couple monotone people talking to each other.
But as soon as I turned on the radio, it felt like somebody reached inside my head and turned every thought I was thinking in that moment upside down.
My eyes popped open with shock, my jaw dropped, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up.
Because the morning broadcast was a case study on suicide.
I didn't tell a soul that I was planning to commit suicide, but I had this strong, indescribable feeling that somebody or something new.
I must've listened to over one hundred NPR morning shows that year, and never once did I hear them air a story on suicide.
It wasn't even suicide prevention month or week.
If they had aired a story on any other topic, I would've tuned out.
But for this story, I was all ears.
All I could think was, I've never planned to commit suicide a day in my life until today. Am I hearing this broadcast for a reason? What does this mean?
The story was about a young girl, who, like me, did her best to appear content and happy. But one day the pain just became too unbearable, and she jumped from the top of a building.
Nobody saw her death coming. Nobody understood the depths of her pain.
The story sounded all too familiar...
And in my gut, I knew that what was taking place was a Divine Intervention.
I felt like God was telling me that it wasn't my time to go and that He had a bright future for me despite everything I'd been through.
God gave me the miracle of hope, and even though life still didn't make sense to me, I started to entertain the idea that maybe life had a purpose after all.
So I decided to keep living to see if one day everything would make sense.
That was over 5 years ago, and now I'm filled with a strong sense of purpose that I've never had in my life.
I can now say with all sincerity that I'm looking forward to living a long and extremely fulfilling life.
And I've made it my life's mission to advocate for mental health awareness with every fiber of my being, fund research, and fight the stigma that contributed to nearly killing me.
If you ever come to a point in your life where you want to give up and throw in the towel like I did, PLEASE reach out for help. Dial 988 or text TALK to 741741.
Your life is so valuable and no matter what things look like, your life does have purpose. So never lose hope!
Speak up and share your story, seek help, and put your mental health over any and everything that threatens to disrupt it.