A Conversation with Christian Alexis, Self-Care, Self-Love and Self-Preservation

I first noticed Christian Alexis, formerly Chrishba, on my timeline over the past summer when her tweets on holistic wellness, self-love and self-preservation continuously graced my timeline prompting a like, retweet and two snaps from me. About once a week, I go down her timeline for some tweets on spirituality and health, and I’m sure you do too. Her platform has now grown into a YouTube channel, website, and will be posting some inspirational playlists pretty soon. She shares her story to inspire other young women and be a living testimony as to what self-preservation can really do. 

Rebecca: How did you get started on this whole self-love, self-preservation, wholistic health wave that you’re on?

Christian: I think it started when I got to Howard. I finally had some space to really explore who I was and I’ve always dealt with issues with my health my whole life. I have PCOS, I’ve always struggled with my weight, and I never really felt like doctors conventionally were able to give me what I needed. I really got into Whole Foods, Trader Joes-so that really started the health aspect for me, but then along the journey around my sophomore year in college, I was in a really toxic, abusive relationship so that kind of catapulted my depression into a whole different realm. I think during that phase in my life I was like, “Okay, Christian, what are we about to do? We need to make some changes.” I think being in that abusive relationship sent me into a deep reflective stage and kind of helped me decide what I wanted to for myself.

Rebecca: I know a lot of young women in college can really relate to having a really bad [time] period whether it’s dealing with somebody else, or dealing with yourself; because when you come to college, and you’re kind of away from everybody, you kind of have to build up your image again- if you don’t mind me asking, what was that dark period like?

Christian: I think the first one was in high school, where I was about to get kicked out of one of my programs because I was in a special science program and I was extremely suicidal. I wouldn't come out of my room after school, I barely ate which is not normal for me at all, and I just really lost hope- completely checked out of the world. So, that was the first time I ever dealt with my own darkness face to face. The second time I ever dealt with a dark, depressive phase was during the abusive relationship I was mentioning. When the break-up finally happened, I was like, “Okay, I can’t do this anymore.” I was also very suicidal.

So, the dark place is make or break for a lot of people. A lot of people don’t come out of that. And for me, it wasn't like I saw some inspirational book, or some song came on and I was like “I’m awakened and I’m finally in love with myself and everything is going to be okay and now I can live my life and inspire people.” It was really just me deciding that I was worthy of life. Everything in your life may be going wrong, but you still deserve to live. So, that moment transpired into me wanting to encourage other women who are in the same place as me. Suicide and depression are definitely something that I’ve dealt with my entire life, so it’s definitely a dark space.

Rebecca: So, was it like one day you just kind of looked at yourself and was like “I deserve to live” or was it a few “a-ha” moments back to back that brought you to that?

Christian: I think that because I sustained so many things over the course of my life, when that dark depressive phase happened, I was like “Okay, I’ve been through all of these things and survived, and now I’m here. So, I think I can get through this, too.” A lot of moments led up to it, but I think there was a moment in time where I was just like “you’re stronger than you think you are.”

Rebecca: About when did this big a-ha moment that made you be like, “Okay, let’s turn over a new leaf.”

Christian: It was about two years ago, I was 19. That’s when my health started spiraling out of control. I feel like health and mental health go hand-in-hand. So, when your physical health is not intact, your mental health is not intact. When you’re mental health is not intact, you’re physical health is not intact. For me, all of the heaths were spiraling out of control. So, I think that was the moment where I was like, “So I’m completely discombobulated, so what are we about to do?”

Rebecca: You seem really knowledgeable of physical health and mental health, and not just quotes you see online like ‘take care of your mental health, paint your nails’ and stuff like that, but really the facts behind it. So were you always this knowledgeable about things like that, or did you go into some research?

I’ve always had an affinity for knowledge in terms of the health realm. I’ve always been very curious about health. From the age of five or 6, I wanted to be a doctor. Right now I’m studying community health at Howard, so I have a lot of access to information. I have to write papers and do research. Most of the time I do research, it’s on things that I’m interested in. I haven’t always been this knowledgeable, though. It took me stepping outside of myself to really search for knowledge on my own- to find the articles, find the information, and a lot of it’s not publically accessible. I definitely haven’t always been this knowledgeable.

Rebecca: What were some practices that you started implementing in your life to help take you where you are now?

The first one was yoga. I got really, heavily involved in yoga for a while. I had a really heavy yoga phase. I had like six yoga mats in that part of my life. Alex Elle was one of my favorite bloggers, she talks a lot about yoga. I think that was one of the big ones. The gym for sure is a huge self-care practice for me. It sounds so cliche like, ‘yeah I workout for my health,’ but it really does help. And just unplugging. Like, I often-times just turn everything off. It’s difficult because we live in such a social media-saturated culture, but I think once a week, everybody should just turn their phones off. Once I started doing that, I was really able to reflect without a notification. So, the gym, yoga, and unplugging are definitely three self-care practices that changed my life.

Rebecca: Speaking of social media, I stalk your Twitter and your Instagram and now that you have a Youtube channel and a website, I will be stalking those too.

Christian: Yay! Please do come!

Rebecca: I will! I’m throwing all the views your way. How did you become comfortable enough with your truth and your story to begin sharing that with people.

Christian: Listen, It’s a journey. Truly, honestly. It is an uphill battle, honestly. I am very private, and I don’t like being vulnerable, and I don’t like being open. But, I realized that my being closed off is not impacting anybody. It took me awhile, but that YouTube teaser you saw took me years to post. I was like “Christian, you have all this knowledge, you have all this experience, all these testimonies, all these things that God has brought you through, and you’re keeping it to yourself? How does that work? You can’t psych yourself out. You just have to get it out there. Produce content and whatever happens, happens.

Rebecca: Speaking of God, what does God look like or feel like to you?

Christian: That’s a good question. I’m a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ, and I’m from a very traditional Christian home. I don’t like to identify myself as a religious person because I understand a lot of times faith gets camouflage, and a lot of times people use religion as a scapegoat. So, I do have a very heavy spiritual life. I read the Bible, I do devotionals, and I do believe that Jesus is really the only reason that I’m here. I think my Christianity has rooted me in everything I’m doing.

Rebecca: Who do you look up to?

Christian: My grandmothers, I look up to my mother, Michelle Obama. But I definitely have a lot of women figures that I aspire to emulate and that inspire me.

Rebecca: You mentioned are a Christian, you do devotionals, and read the Bible. What is your spiritual practice like?

Christian: I try to go to church when I can, I’m in a couple ministries at church dealing specifically with young women, Which is my passion. Devotionals every morning and taking moments of gratitude during the day. Nothing extreme, but I think the little things add up to be big things when it comes to God.

Rebecca: What are some resources you use to educate yourself and keep yourself in check?

Christian: Google. I Google everything. I like to read scholarly articles on things relating to spirituality and relating to health. The Holy Bible App is something that I use often. Twitter and Instagram have a lot of information, but you just have to make sure the sources are valid. Whatever I can get my hands on, honestly.

Rebecca: What do you do when you feel like you’re off or out of balance or if you maybe even feel like you’re slipping back into old Christian?

Christian: That’s a really good question. I think that mindfulness is important to keep you from even getting to that place. In the event that I do, it’s usually caused by something. When I fall off the wagon. It's usually because of an event. I give myself a day to grieve whatever happened, accept whatever happened, cry about whatever happened, scream. I run a bath and then I have to get over it. If that doesn’t work, I give myself another day. And I make a lot of lists. My whole room is covered in sticky notes just to remind myself why I started. I give myself a day, and if that doesn’t work, I remind myself why I started.

Rebecca: What would you say to freshman year Christian?

Christian: Go to class (laughs). Don’t worry [about] boys so much. It will happen when it’s time for it to happen, and just keep learning. Don’t ever stop learning, and take care of your mental health.

Rebecca: If you had to come up with a mantra to describe you and your journey, what would it be?

Christian: Just show up. Over the course of my life, I’ve shortchanged myself from a lot of experiences and blessings because I felt like I wasn’t good enough or I didn’t look a certain part, but I found more often than not it doesn’t even matter. What matters is just showing up and being your authentic self. No matter what your GPA is, regardless of who knows you are [or] who doesn’t know you. My mantra would be: just show up.   

The story has been edited and condensed.