Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
A: My name is Kayla Lockhart, I’m 19 years old and currently a proud volunteer as a Trevor Project crisis counselor. I’m very passionate about advocating for mental illness awareness, and advocating as a repeated sexual assault survivor. I love to write and use it as an outlet for my own experiences and struggles in hopes that I can help others feel less alone. I am currently working on becoming a publisher while continuing my advocacy.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: One of my biggest inspirations is Victoria Lee, the author of my favorite book series, The Feverwake. They truly inspired me to start sharing my own experiences with trauma and mental illness through writing. Victoria Lee taught to me that the “darker” sides of what people experience and the outwardly invisible struggles are not to be silenced or pushed aside simply for the comfort of others who haven’t lived through such trauma. Your voice matters and so does your story.
Q: How has your condition impacted your daily life?
A: I have several co-morbid mental disorders, along with physical illnesses. I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar Type 2 with Psychosis, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), dissociative amnesia, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), phobic disorder, and anorexia nervosa. Having so many diagnoses creates a constant feeling of instability in my day to day life and I am in constant anticipation for some sort of crisis. Even if I am stable in one area, there’s still so much else going on that I can never consider myself truly stable... only “ok” in certain moments. Alongside this, on a physical standpoint I have currently been testing for a delayed gastric emptying disorder and have been diagnosed with POTS syndrome. My currently unspecified gastric emptying disorder leaves me almost paralyzed in pain, and due to constant anxiety over certain foods or drinks bringing me into an episode, I hyper-focus on what I can and can't consume. So, already having an eating disorder, this adds an extra layer that gives me symptoms of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), another eating disorder. Overall, life can feel like you are constantly surviving it, not truly living it yet. It can make you feel quite hopeless.
Q: How do you currently cope with these challenges?
A: To cope with these challenges, I mainly rely on therapy; trauma therapy, specifically. Without my therapist, I’ve felt very alone with my challenges/experiences as someone who has severe mental illness but also faces physical health challenges that can be debilitating, as well. Journaling has also been something I’ve used because sometimes there are things going on in your head or your life that you’d rather not say so openly. Expressing yourself in a journal ensure you wouldn’t have to face any societal judgement.
Q: How has Alike helped you on your health journey?
A: It has helped me receive help from people with firsthand experiences rather than from a healthcare provider who has a hard time understanding me. If I am ever concerned with something I am experiencing or want to know others' experiences with medications or treatment systems, I could almost always find someone on Alike to chat with. I also like Alike Wisdom, the new AI system for answer a question or concern you have immediately.