This blog post contains mentions of depression, childhood sexual abuse, and miscarriage.
If the name Alexis Haines or Alexis Neiers sounds familiar, you might have seen a little reality show she was on called Pretty Wild, which was produced by Chelsea Handler. Or maybe you remember seeing that Sophia Coppola movie The Bling Ring, which was based on (a very small part) of her life. Or if you’ve spent the past decade a little devoid of pop culture, long story short, she was involved in a robbery at Orlando Bloom’s house.
It also turned out her reality show wasn’t so real after all. While it appeared as if she was living at home in a way that can be only described as a woo-woo version of the Kardashians gone wrong, that wasn’t her reality at all. Off-camera, Alexis and her sister Tess (who actually isn’t her sister, but a friend who was taken in by Alexis’ mother Andrea), were using heroin and panhandling on the streets.
But the craziest part of the entire ordeal isn’t that she spent a summer in jail with Lindsay Lohan. It’s that she survived the worst kind of trauma, got sober and became a drug counselor and doula. Today, Alexis is a wife and mother of two living in the suburbs of Los Angeles.
Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction. Now, she inspires countless people to recover from their own reality, trauma and addiction.
I sat down with the former reality star to talk about her memoir (which I might add is just as juicy as it is a tear-jerker), podcast, and how she is using her platform to change the lives of others. If you don’t believe everything happens for a reason, her story will change your mind.
(Some of this interview has been edited for clarity).
What I love about your story is that you not only survived trauma, but you ended up having your happily ever after. The icing on the cake is that you have a podcast and a book where you get to help other people.
When I first entered treatment, I made a conscious decision that I was going to stay away from the media and entertainment because I had seen people who had come before me who had struggled with addiction go in and out of rehab. And I knew that if I returned, I would probably die. If I went back to drugs and alcohol, that was it for me. My addiction was not pretty. So, I said, I need to step away.
About two years ago, I started waking up to the very real reality, hence the name of my podcast and book—that we’re all struggling. Mental health issues are at an all-time high. Drug addiction is killing [people]. Every year the numbers just keep increasing. So, I decided that I could no longer stand by the sidelines and I needed to use my voice and what little power that I had at the time.
I didn’t have a huge following. But, I said I’m going to do the best that I can. I am so grateful that the book and the podcast have been so well received. Now, it’s turning into a community of people.
Tell me about your podcast. What guests have come on and what types of issues do you cover?
Recovering From Reality is about our journeys back towards wholeness, back towards home, towards ourselves, our true and authentic selves. How we turn embarrassment into empowerment. How we take those defining moments of our life and we harness on them, we learn from them, and then we grow into something else. So the podcast is a platform for us to get really vulnerable and raw and real and talk about, the moments that have shaped our lives.
I’ve had really big guests and a lot more to come on the podcast. We recently had Rebecca Black. She is incredible and I’m so grateful that she came on. She had that huge song “Friday” and got so much slack for it—she was getting death threats on the Internet. [This was] ten years ago when she was just twelve years old. And she took that moment and turned it into a huge career.
We also have experts and we cover topics that are anywhere from how to overcome a divorce to childhood sexual abuse, to addiction and mental health. It’s pretty broad.
I know that you still have struggles, but I look at your social media and everything looks perfect and edited. But, real life isn’t always like that. And even if you seemingly have it all, there’s always something behind the scenes.
My feed might look beautiful, but when you open those posts, even if you go back to January of 2019 [and several months prior], I was suicidally depressed. I’ve dealt with so many challenges—miscarriage, pregnancy loss, depression, anxiety, all of these things that I’m grateful that I’ve made it out of that.
And then I’m here today. But, if you open up those photos, for eight out of ten of them, sometimes I just think I look cute or I’ll post a picture of my kids looking cute and it’s something sweet. But most of the time, there are major takeaways. I use my Instagram more as a blog.
So what is Recovering From Reality the book about and why did you decide to wait nearly a decade to write it? Because I feel like you could have done it much earlier.
I felt a calling to share with people that it is absolutely possible to turn your life around no matter what your circumstances and that you are worthy of a big and beautiful and full life. This book really goes into detail about my early childhood sexual abuse and my sexual trauma, the way that trauma leads to addiction and mental health issues. And so while yes, it’s a memoir and kind of a map of how we as a society have gotten here, it’s also a blueprint of how to get ourselves out.
In the book, you talk about childhood sexual abuse, which is such a serious topic, in an open, raw and real way. Was that a challenge for you?
People ask me all the time, was this process therapeutic for you? And my answer is no. If you open up the dedication in the book, it says:
For those who have been told that their pain possibly couldn’t possibly be real.
For those who have been told that they are too much.
For those who have stayed silent.
For those who have been silenced.
Your pain is real.
This book is for you, this is for us.
It’s for all of us who have endured whatever type of pain. For me, it was a lot of sexual abuse. I think so many of us feel like we have to suffer in silence. And we don’t have to do that anymore.
So between the book and the podcast, what are people opening up to you about?
I’m so honored that anyone would come to me for advice. I spend countless hours every day in my DMs. In the last week, one woman who was a mom dealing with severe postpartum depression, was on her way to end her life. She heard a snippet of my podcast that was shared by somebody else in their stories. She DMed me and decided that she was going to go to therapy and get better.
An incredible gay man from Texas who had been addicted to Oxycontin for years, heard me on another podcast and decided that day that he was done using. So when I talk about the fact that we are a community, all it took was me opening up right about my challenges and my experiences. And because of that, it’s having this ripple effect.