[Editors Note: Last year Alice Rose won our Hoopie Award for Newbie Hooper of the Year. Even as a newcomer to the hoop, her passion, energy and flow proved to be captivating. A year later Alice is sharing her very personal story about her troubled past, how hooping changed her life, and how today she’s spinning away the stigma of mental illness.]
by Alice Rose
When I look back on the 23 years I’ve spent in this life, I can pinpoint three main turning points. Of course a lot has happened in between, every choice we make has a life changing effect on the events we experience, but three stick out for me.
The first turning point for me was the first time I smoked a spliff. At school, I was not popular at all. I just didn’t seem to understand how to make friends and keep them. When I realized taking drugs was an easy way to make friends, I got into drugs in a big way. I’ve always been a rule breaker and I guess on some level I thought it was cool and exciting. From the age of 16 I was smoking weed every day. Drugs literally defined my life for years. If I was sad or excited, to have fun or forget or relax, if it was the weekend or if I was bored, all of these things became reasons to use.
The drugs changed somewhat. You name it, I’ve done it. I would go through really intense cycles, take a drug everyday until I ruined my ability to enjoy it and then move on. It got really dark. It stopped being fun and a lot of very bad things happened. During those years it was impossible to keep a job, housing was very unstable, my relationships were always emotionally and sometimes physically abusive, my body began to collapse. My lowest weight was 6 and a half stone (91 pounds). I had friends that were in prison, that had lost their septums or their bladders or their children. One of my dearest friends lost his life. Very often I would think, “I don’t belong here”.
Back in August 2012, I decided that I wanted to stop. What followed was a major depression. I didn’t want to leave the house, or see anyone or do anything. This lasted for months until something incredible happened. Turning point number two. Hooping is not something I went looking for, in fact one of my closest friends at the time had been hooping for ages and it just hadn’t been for me. I guess the idea of appearing “sexy” absolutely terrified me. During my depression I was convinced to give it a spin. A friend of mine had a hoop and hooping changed everything.
My addictive personality latched on to it so strongly from that first night. I had to have one, I literally could not stop. I started hooping at home everyday. My sleep came back with my appetite. I went back to work to a new job I loved. Then I started hooping socially, and performing, and making new friends. I felt more like myself than I ever had before. I changed completely, from awkward, self conscious and strung out, to confident, outgoing and assertive. I still had some ups and downs, fall outs with old friends who didn’t like the new me, but generally speaking I was happy. I loved hooping so much I didn’t want to take drugs anymore, not even at parties because I couldn’t hoop as well.
When I found the hooping community, it was incredible, a whole new level of joy. At first it was felt weird for me, but hooping gave me a way to connect with people. Everyone was so friendly and kind and talented. I even started having adventures, going to hoop gatherings and workshops alone, all over the country, something I never would have done before. My hooping got better and better, I just wanted to do it all the time, literally. It completely took over my life in the best possible way.