Hiya! I was born in St. Louis, Missouri on January 30, 1997 (Aquarius baby!). For 18 years, good ole Midwest molded me into the person I am today with lots of family, Sunday church, town gossip and outdoor exploring. I just graduated from college with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology, and all I wanna do is write, be funny, solve murders and spread mental health awareness. Simple things.
That is so cool! Out of all things, what topics are you most passionate about?
I’m all about mental health, especially eating disorders, anxiety and body dysmorphia. We all grew up in a world that promotes toxic diet culture, breeds insecurity and pollutes our happiness. It’s hard to see the problematic messages that surround us DAILY, but once you do, you’re a step closer to self-loving! I also love true crime, but that’s a whole can of worms.
What is the main outlet you use to express yourself?
Definitely Instagram, or my website, which is just a collection of my writing. I don’t have Snapchat, Twitter or any other serious form of social media. But I would be happy with just a pencil and paper.
Any tips on how to practice mental health? During these COVID times, it seems especially relevant.
The pandemic really emphasized how vital it is to check in on your mental well-being. Without work, recreation, socializing or any real sliver of normal life, we all had ample time to sit with our thoughts. I think identifying your thoughts as what they are — JUST thoughts and not facts — , recognizing when they come, saying “hey, I see you and you’re just a troubling thought” and letting them pass by, is key. Mindfulness!
What are some stereotypes related to mental health?
The biggest one is that having a mental illness is a choice. I can’t tell you how many people upon learning about eating disorders say “well, just eat!” In my mind, that’s like telling someone with a broken leg to just “walk it off!” Just because the majority of mental illnesses are not seen, does NOT mean they are any less serious or valid than physical illnesses.
At first, my motivation to get healthy came entirely from my family and friends, as I sadly felt kind of hopeless on my own. I fought my battle for them, because I couldn’t handle the negative effect my downfall had on them. I was racked with guilt that I made so many people so fearful. But now, I also fight for myself, for others out there with similar struggles and for my future family.
We’ve heard a little bit about your project and business “Beads for EDs” (@beadsforeds). Can you please explain what it is and the purpose behind it?
I started Beads For Eds the week I got discharged from my hospital treatment center. It was the peak of COVID and my days were long and lonely. I wanted a way to spread eating disorder awareness, garner donations to the cause, keep myself busy and artistic, and connect with people worldwide. What a gift it is to reach someone in Switzerland with a necklace and a letter during this pandemic!
I would say to her, “Lil’ k80, you were created beautiful, strong, intelligent, funny, capable, driven, caring, loyal, social, happy and worthy. And, guess what? NONE of these qualities come from the way you look. The way you were born is, in itself, already more than enough.”
What is your favorite and most important piece you’ve written, and why?
A few months ago, I wrote a little “guide” to eating disorder education and how to be supportive, and it completely blew up. I was overwhelmed with how receptive and grateful people were. In a small way, I felt that I had made a tiny difference to someone out there in the mental health world.
What is one thing you want to leave behind in 2020, and one new thing you’re bringing into 2021 with you?
I am leaving behind this idea that I am a “burden” to people in my life. I know I am not. In 2021, I am bringing the sense of self and confidence I lacked the past five years of my life. It’s time to be the boss ass b*tch I was born to be!