Beautifully Human / Alexandra Ferencová

As we continue our series today, Beautifully Human...

We focus on the beauty of humans and the power in their stories…

Through telling their stories we hope to connect this world. To spread love and humanity...

To show a common thread of beautiful humans…

This week we go to Prague, Czechia with Alexandra Ferencová to hear her incredible story...

Alexandra and I met online on the app Tinder while I was working a festival in Plzeň, Czechia. Though we never met in person, we always had really great conversations and I am thankful that we have kept in touch. We can all learn from her honesty and the beauty she brings out of her story.

Let’s all be beautifully human…

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Alexandra Ferencová / Prague, Czechia / https://www.alexferencova.com/


Tell me a story that shaped your life…

Tell me a story that almost ruined your life… 

Tell me a story that enriched your life…

Tell me a story that enriched another life…

Tell me a story of crazy life… 

Tell me a story of hope… 

Tell me a story of life…

What would you want the world to know about you… 


- I would make the eight stories above one. And that's the story of my life.


What has happened so far shaped me, ruined me, enriched me and hopefully other people around me. It's a story of a crazy life. It's a story of pain but also learning, growing, and hoping. I am not sure if the world wants to or needs to know. But my story might help someone who has been struggling with things I have experienced. Just knowing you aren't alone there. You can overcome any struggle, pain, injustice, illness. People's bodies and minds are strong. More than you think .


 I grew up and have been living my whole life in the Czech Republic. It's not the best place to be but it's certainly not the worst. Despite growing up in an incomplete family of an alcoholic, seemingly emotionless mother and much older siblings, I consider myself a lucky child.


I am a half-gypsy and those two worlds, lack of emotions and too many emotions, have always been part of my life. And daily struggle. With myself. And people around me.  

So what are the things that've shaped my life the most?

  • Hardcore

Hardcore is more than music, they say. And they laughed at it. I laugh at it. And I agree at the same time. In 2002 I came to a hardcore festival not having heard about the scene before. I just went to help friends from an Animal Liberation organization.


And I was astonished. Shocked. Scared. Thrilled. Happy. Grateful. I'd never met people like me. Dark. Negative sometimes. Genuinely interested in human and animal rights. Bothered by injustice, homophobia, racism, fascism and other painful social issues. So friendly and caring. Open-minded. I immediately felt welcome in the scene. Supported. Understood. Not alone anymore. I loved it. I did hate the music, I wasn't wearing black and I didn't have any tattoos but it all changed quickly :D   

This event changed my life and made me who I am now. In this scene, I've met amazing, incredibly talented, super kind and sweet people from all around the world. I've had crazy stories, found friends for life, visited cool places, heard breathtaking bands, and finally felt myself. (I feel half pathetic, half touched by saying this right now. Still grateful though!).

  • Anorexia

I'd always been a chubby kid. I didn't worry about it that much. I didn't even want to or try to lose weight. It just happened. Being a busy, happy, outgoing teenager, I started losing weight. And I liked that. I did look better. People did compliment me. I also felt better. I felt strong. And good. And I wanted more.

This disorder is cruel. It gives you a fake feeling of being strong, healthy, beautiful, having control. But it's the right opposite.

During the 18 months with this illness, I lost half of my weight, social life, friends, realistic view of myself. I damaged my body and mind. But I recovered.

Well..I keep asking myself if you can fully overcome and cure an eating disorder. I don't think you can. I've destroyed my self-image forever. I can't recognize hunger. I still have anorexia/bulimia/binging periods which I am not able to control. But I am fighting. And living.


My advice? Don't be afraid or embarrassed. Don't feel like you failed and ask for help. A therapist psychiatrist, family, friends, me.


You don't have to and shouldn't be alone with this fight.

  • Mental Health, Toxic Relationships, Suicide Attempts

When I was around 22, something changed. I'd been studying university, working, having fun, I had a nice loving partner. Nothing extraordinary. A good life. But I started feeling sick. Dizzy. I had unexplained aches and pains. Blurred vision. Extreme fatigue. I had a feeling my brain is bigger than my head. It was scary. I couldn't walk, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. I could barely talk. It got so bad that I wasn't able to leave my flat. I saw countless doctors but I was told that there was nothing wrong with me. Devastating feeling of despair and helplessness. I had to interrupt my studies and after a couple of months I finally got the diagnosis. Severe depression, anxiety disorder, agoraphobia. Invisible monsters that are destroying your soul, breaking your heart and damaging your body.

This is something that changed my life big time.I immediately started working on it. On feeling better. On curing the illnesses. It took me around ten years to realize they cannot be cured completely. You can make (or try to make) it better. Bearable. You can work on yourself. And you might feel everything is fine and they are gone. You make some progress, you learn how to manage panic attacks, how not to get complete crazy. You might even feel happy for a certain period of time 


...but they always come back. The pain, fatigue, feelings of sadness and hopelessness. You might feel your effort is vain. But hey, it's not. I promise. Nobody feels high, happy and full of energy all the time. Everybody has their ups and downs. Our downs might be harder. And they make us stronger. Every Time you get back on track, you return back to „normal life“, you win! You haven't given up.

Depression is a real mental illness. Depression isn't a choice. You cannot simply decide to stop feeling depressed.You can't cure it just by a positive attitude or doing sport, going for a walk.

You can and you will feel depressed for no reason. It might be frustrating that people don't get it. Even your close friends and loved ones. But you are not alone.


My advice? Talk! Talk to a specialist! A therapist, psychiatrist, find a support group. Read, listen to podcasts, text me :)

Yeah, it is not fair that we have to live with this illness. But we can fight and get a decent, nice life. And be happy even! 

Depression interferes with work life, social life, love life. I've always had troubles with romantic relationships. Depression might be to blame. But to be honest, I think it's been the wrong choice of partners and not learning from my mistakes. :)

My first serious relationship took five years. It was a long distance one but I considered it happy and healthy. He even proposed at my graduation. A week later, I got a text saying he'd met someone else and he was breaking up with me. That was the first time I tried to kill myself. Cutting wrists and overdosing luckily wasn't successful. It took me two years to get over this. Over him.

Then I met a guy. A foreigner. He was interesting and fun. He also did drugs and drank a lot which made him rather aggressive. He tried to kill me three times. Choking, pushing out of a window, throwing a sofa at me. Overdosing was my way out.

I survived. I was saved by a student of mine. A really nice guy. We became friends. We became more. We moved in together and had a happy, loving relationship for two years. Then my mental problems hit hard again. I had a very stressful job, I had physical problems, extreme fatigue, I felt nothing.

My agoraphobic panic attacks got unbearable. I became addicted to anxiolytics. It took half a year. The only thing I was able to do was to get to and from work. Sleep the rest of the day and night. I asked for help. Doctors. Therapists. My boyfriend. It didn't come. I couldn't go on.

My third suicide attempt was a serious one. I ended up at a closed psychiatric ward. My boyfriend was angry. So were my friends. I didn't even tell my parents. I was begging the doctors to let me go home so that I could fix it. When I got home finally, my boyfriend told me he wouldn't make it and asked me to move out. In a week. I had nothing. No money, no furniture, no energy. I had to attend a group therapy every day for three months. But I made it. Found a place to live and worked on my recovery. 

I was scared to let anyone close to me again so I was only having short-term, not serious relationships for a couple of years. Then, I discovered Tinder :D I got the idea of it wrong and I was really looking for a serious relationship there. And I met a guy. A Belgian guy who was on tour with his band. I fell in love, I came to visit him in Belgium. It didn't work but I fell in love again. With Belgium this time. I know there are much more interesting and beautiful countries in Europe, yet in the world but this place felt like home. I kept coming. Meeting new people. Meeting new partners. Finding my second family. My second home. And one of my biggest pains.


My last Belgian boyfriend was an artist. Musician. A bit eccentric. Very interesting. Crazy love I thought. Unconditional love forever. A very quick one. We met at the end of April. Got engaged at the beginning of March. It was in July when he moved to my place in my country. And it was at the beginning of August when I found out I was pregnant. It was a planned and happily expected baby. At least that's what I thought. At the end of August, he broke up with me and left. Not back to Belgium but to another girl. He'd been lying to me, cheating on me and manipulating me all the time. He was a sociopath.

A sociopath is someone suffering from antisocial personality disorder. People with ASPD can’t understand others’ feelings. They’ll often break rules or make impulsive decisions without feeling guilty for the harm they cause. They use mind games to control people around them. These people are so dangerous as they are so hard to see through. They are charismatic and charming and use elaborated lies and manipulative techniques to make you trust them. To feel important and loved. Only that's all a lie. Not reality. And the inevitable clash with reality is really hard. I couldn't keep the baby.

Having an abortion was the hardest and most painful decision I have ever made. It took me a long time to get over this short but devastating relationship. I'll probably never get over the fatal decision I had to make. 

This was two years ago and my life has changed completely since then. To be honest, I am scared. I am scared to see what life brings next. But I am still here. Fighting. So it probably means I still have hope for a better (maybe even happy!) future.

What did / do you miss most during covid 19…


- Covid 19 situation has changed my life completely. I lost my job. I had to move from a town where I had been living for 15 years and where most of my friends were settled. I lost the opportunity to do what I love and what makes me happy. Traveling. Concerts. Meeting people. Working. So I missed all that. And I still do sometimes. Changes can be scary but they always bring something new. Something good I hope.




What brings you the most joy / smile the most... 


- The older I get, the more I appreciate small things. A cup of coffee. Indian summer. Gloomy autumn. A good concert. Being with friends. Seeing my family. Hugging my boyfriend. A flock of sheep. Green woods. Deep lakes. Travels. Sea. Mountains. My friends' achievements. My parents are safe and healthy. A dress from a thrift shop I saved. A cake. Flowers. Swimming. Yoga. Wet grass. Coloured leaves. A sunny day. A good pun. Learning a new word.


If you were given a plane ticket to anywhere, where would you go…


- Belgium first :D And then a trip around the world! There's so much I'd love to see.


What brought you to where you are at in life today…


- The story of my life :)


What is your most prized possession…


- I don't possess things, really. Possessions and money bring more bad than good. It'd be nice not having to worry if you have enough to pay the rent or buy food. It would be great if you could travel anywhere you'd like to. But I don't know many people who are totally worry-less about this. So I am enjoying my collection of sheep and second hand dresses. As well as my sewing machine, swimsuit and camera because these help me to do what I love.


Traveling is my life, and has also saved my life. It shows the beauty of other cultures. tell me a story of your favorite travel moment… 


- It's every time I get on a plane, bus, train or in a car. The excitement of seeing something new, meeting new amazing people, hearing some amazing stories.. There is so much to discover! It might be my gypsy blood but traveling is vital for my well-being.


Tell me a story of struggle… 


- That's a story of my life :)


In another life, what are you doing… 


- ...the same but better.



What is your greatest accomplishment… 


- I still find it hard to admit I have accomplished something.


I think my greatest accomplishment is that I survived and I keep going. When life gets me down on my knees, I get up and fight again. I fight with myself, the world, my illnesses and fate while keeping some dignity and sanity. Hopefully :D


What is your biggest fear… 


- ...that my mental and physical health will get worse and it will prevent me from doing things I like doing. Or things I have to do to survive. Losing social connections and loved ones. I am trying to look after myself to avoid this. Both mentally and physically. To be honest I am not sure what exactly I am doing. I keep trying and hoping for the best I guess.  


What is your biggest regret…

 

- I should and shouldn't have done some things. I shouldn't have let certain people enter my life. I shouldn't have allowed certain people to leave it. But I don't regret it. I believe some things are meant to happen, to shape your life. To shape you. You can only become a better person if you make mistakes and learn from them.


What do you do for work… and why…


- I teach English. Adults. I fear teaching children as they are so fragile. They are like a blank book and their story is being written by adults around them. You can do great things to help them have a great life. But you can also do lots of harm.

 

Teaching adults is great. You work as a tutor, you help, you listen. You are a teacher for some. Psychologist for others. Friend. Therapist. People have amazing stories and they like to share them. I like to hear them. It's a win-win job.

I have a degree in linguistics. I started studying languages as I thought „If you understand a language, you will understand people who speak that language“. Not exactly true :D But I've learnt a lot. I am a language nerd. I am happy I can have a meaningful conversation with amazing people all around the world.


What was your first tattoo...


 - My first ink was a cover. It's an old school tattoo of a gypsy girl. I am a half gypsy and I am proud of my ancestry. Being a gypsy in my country isn't easy. Gypsies are outcasts. The low race. They “Are thieves“. „Never work“ „Take advantage of the social system“. The level of racism towards this group is high in the Czech Republic. It makes me angry. It makes me helpless. I don't look like one and often let people talk bullshit about gypsies only to tell them I feel personally offended as my family are all honest and hardworking people. It makes these racists uncomfortable. Speechless. Embarrassed. And hopefully think about this nonsense prejudice.  


 My favourite tattoo is a sheep story I made up. It covers my scars I got after a suicide attempt and it's done by a dear friend (who is also an amazing artist and a great singer btw).

It goes like this: When a sheep dies it goes straight to the sky where it becomes a cloud. And when it sees the bad world down there, it cries. Then it rains. Rain is the tears of sheep in the sky who got sad over humanity.


I also have to mention my back piece. It's an abstract one and it depicts something we call „Vlčí mlha“. Wolf's mist. As in: „Look at the beautiful red flower!“ „You've got wolf's mist. It's totally orange.“ Wolf's mist is an expression which is used when two people see one thing differently. And each of them is sure about their reality. And both are right. I believe there is not just one reality. There are as many realities as there are people in this world. And it makes it extremely difficult to understand each other if we deny this fact. I believe there are ways to deal with this. Listen. Respect. Be open-minded and try to understand.  

If you had the ear of everyone in the world, what would you say to them... 


- Life is hard. It's also fun. You've got this! Be honest. Be open-minded. Listen. You have the right to be sad. Depression is a serious illness. Talk!


And remember, you are a beautiful human.










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