Hooping, Mental Illness and Spinning Stronger: Hooping.org

Alice Rose









[Note: Last year Alice Rose won a 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 From: Hooping.org


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.

alicerose1My 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.

Published by Cara Zara

Professional entertainer and educator Cara Zara has performed at festivals, events, libraries, charity functions, and summer camps throughout the Southeast and has interacted with over 250,000 children. She has been teaching her popular programs since 2011 and has taught at over 200 private and public schools throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. She loves inspiring children to learn and be physically active through fun movement and laughter.

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