Aimee

Aimee is a 28-year old from Christchurch, with half Singaporean-Indian, half-Pakeha background. After studying Law at the University of Canterbury, Aimee moved to Auckland for a position with KPMG. A lover of yoga, she completed a yoga teacher training course through Christchurch-based Apollo Yoga, and now enjoys teaching regular after-hours classes. Aimee lives in Auckland with her son, Jett.

I have a life beyond my wildest dreams. I am happy in a way I never thought would be possible. There are some major and minor things that I’ve put in place that have enabled me to build a solid foundation to live my best existence from. 

Becoming a mother to my young boy; Jett, has certainly changed my life. That goes for the way I live my life too. He gives me a deep purpose to live for, to be healthy for, and to be the best version of myself for. That’s on all levels of health; mentally, physically and in every way possible. I strive to be the best mother that he could have and as a result, I am the best person for myself too. 

A big turning point in my journey towards health and wellness was choosing to become completely free from alcohol. Alcohol was an escape for me. I experimented through drinking and partying in an attempt to find happiness, yet these only became contributing factors towards the emotional ups and downs that I experienced. Now without alcohol, I can be present and aware of my feelings. This can be confronting but I have found the ability to act on my feelings instead, through healthy measures. I like the quote “You have to grow through what you go through”. I don’t run away from the tough stuff anymore. Other healthy measures that help me stay my best self are exercise, yoga, friends, family and self-care. I’ve found that channeling my energy towards positive actions for the health of my body has an impact on my mind too.

Exercise is the crux of my wellness. I discovered a female only gym which I love. Not only do I get the good physical boost, but it’s also about community. The female only approach creates such a welcoming and safe, yet empowering community. We are all from different walks of life, different ages and different stages, yet we are one family. We work together and encourage each other throughout our sessions. My gym routine of mine started about a year after I had my son. I’m currently the fittest I have ever been and it feels amazing. Being fit was never something that interested me before, but now that I’ve found it, it has changed my life for the better.
 
My favourite and most important form of exercise is my yoga practice. I know how important it is for me because I really notice the impact if I go a week without it. Through yoga I achieve good mind and body balance. Yoga is a nice form of exercise that views the body as a whole. Through movement, I can calm my mind, it’s a complementing act. I love how it blends the spiritual and inspirational with the physical practice.
 
I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training through Apollo Yoga in Christchurch which was an undoubtedly positive thing to do. I now teach once a week outside my normal work hours which I find very stimulating from the stagnant office work throughout the week. The yoga I teach is an energizing style called Power Yoga, we get our blood pumping and energy flowing. It’s like a refresh button, and there is an element of spirituality and meditation too.

Yoga has also taught me how to manage stress. It’s become a powerful tool for me. In the midst of a stressful day I can go into a yoga studio, lie down on my mat and let go of anything that’s playing on my mind. I don’t even have to do any poses, I can simply lie there, eyes closed and focus on my breathing, and my energy, and I feel the tension release from within. It reminds me that I can take life day by day.

I like attending other yoga classes too and I really enjoy when a teacher offers something spiritually. I love getting moments of, ‘’wow I needed to hear that” or they say something that triggers me to cry and makes me let go of something I didn't necessarily know I was holding on to. It’s indeed a form of therapy for me. I’ve had some good cries in savasana, which I find can sometimes be the best form of emotional release.

I’ve noticed that as soon as I do something physical with my body it helps me realise that whatever things are going on in my life aren't the end of the world. I can be overly dramatic and overthink things at times (I’m human!), but exercise and yoga provides me a place to zone out and let the clutter in my mind fall to the side.

Self-care is something I have had to learn as a mother. For me, self-care is all about clearing space in my day for quality solo time. It can be hard to find time between full-time work, parenting, and other demands of life, so I know that I have to be conscious and smart as to when I can create the space in my day. Having all of these demands is even more of a reason to make sure I have my snippet of self-care, to take the time to check in with myself and make sure that I am okay.  
 
Even if it has come to the end of the day and I haven't managed to clear some ‘me’ time. I can put Jett to bed and roll out my yoga mat or open my journal. Or sometimes my self-care means going to sleep beside him. That’s a happy place too. Snuggling into him and listening to his breath can sometimes be all I need.
 
Other forms of self-care that I’ve discovered are cooking, reading, listening to an audio meditation and of course having a cup of tea. Tea is certainly a good friend of mine.Often all it takes is a simple cup of tea with myself after the day. I love the awareness of the present moment and the instant relaxation which a warm cup in my hands gives me.

I do a lot of self help and inquiry through listening to podcasts, they often give me a new approach to life. It’s amazing having free access to endless inspiration at the tap of a finger.. If I’m struggling with something, I can generally find someone out there who has a podcast on the same topic. The Oprah Super Soul Sessions tend to be my favourite as they share incredible messages from such inspiring people and I usually hear what I need to hear. They are particularly good in the car after a stressful day at work.
 
Helping others by giving them my time is a satisfying feeling. I’ve noticed that through my experiences I now have the capability to draw people in and be a support to them; whether that’s at work, with friends or family. It’s a beautiful thing when someone approaches me and can open up. I’ve noticed that I can relate and understand, and therefore can be present and hold space for them. Even if I don’t have any advice to offer and don’t know what to say (although usually I have lots!), it's okay. I can always offer my support and love. I can always say; “I may not have all the answers but I am here for you and I am happy to listen and talk this through.”

I feel like this is something my experience with anxiety and depression has given me - the ability to really hold space for other people. Helping and giving my time to people, seems to give me a boost of internal happiness too.  It’s a great feeling to know that I’ve been there for someone when they’ve needed it.

I have realised that I do have to be respectful of myself too. I’m the type of person who likes to give 100 percent to everything, which I think is great in lots of ways. But I’ve learnt that sometimes I have to give 80 percent, or even say “no” to things.or I put myself at risk. A really important lesson that I’ve learned is that I can’t do everything, I can’t be everything, I can’t be a perfect mother and I can’t always be a perfect friend but that is okay. Understanding this has been crucial. I takes the pressure off me wanting to constantly achieve. I can only do the best that I can do and sometimes that might just be 80 percent.

Being in the company of good friends is such a soul-cleanse. I’m so grateful for the wonderful cast of people who have supported me through my life, most especially the last few years. A huge part in the happy person I am today is that I have connected with some incredible human beings who are very like minded. Being new to Auckland, it was all by chance that I happened to find my tribe of women. They have become the friends who I can go to and talk about anything, knowing there’ll be no judgement. They totally understand me and are always there with full support. I’ve recently gone through a relationship break up which has been one of the hardest things in the world for me. But these people have stuck by me through thick and thin, to support and help me along.I can be there for them too; This highlights to me how far I have come. I see the power of surrounding myself with kind people, as it creates such a positive vibe in my life.
 
Balance is vital for my overall wellness. I subscribe to the idea of life of everything being intertwined. Maori philosophy talks about this - the concept of hauora.  The four pillars of life, physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. I aim to have them all balanced to create an overall wellness within myself. I see that really clearly now. I understand that when I don’t do my exercise  it also affects my mental pillar. And if I work too much and let stress get the better of me, my physical or emotional pillars will suffer. For me it’s about working all of the pillars together.

I read a book by Rumer Godden recently, she said “There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms- a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person”. 

For me that really rings true. I see being a happy and healthy human as about the whole being. It’s amazing how indigenous cultures recognised this, yet our modern lives have taken us away from that, and are operating room by room on a daily basis. Even if I’m not sitting in the rooms for a long amount of time each day, I simply need to check in. I am very conscious of not spending all of my time in one room. This becomes obvious when I’m in my “mental room” at work for most of the day. I may not even think in emotional or spiritual terms for a big portion of the day, and that goes for my physical room too. It’s important for me to at least walk into each room for a short moment each day and simply air and balance them out.

I believe learning is the purpose of life. I love developing and having interests that occupy me, moving me forward. This year was my yoga teacher training, next year, I’m looking into a creative writing course. Doing courses here and there is a great way for me to keep growing as a person. I find it important to have interests outside of my day to day job. I recognise that I’ll never be complete, that I’m a constantly-learning being. My beautiful son, Jett, also teaches me so much. I often realise new ways of being through spending time with him. Whether it’s being more present with other people, or learning how to really sense a persons energy and needs, I am constantly learning how to be a better mother, and therefore, a better person. I love that about children, they can teach us so much. 
 
I’m a creature of habit. I like to know that things in my life are sorted. So having a routine is what I do to keep myself on the front foot. I know how hard it is to have a good exercise routine without some proper organisation in place, and that flows back into my days. It links to getting myself organised, making sure that I’ve prepared my meals for the day ahead and trying to go to bed early too. It sounds so boring but it really helps me. I question if life can truly be done ‘on-the-fly’ without any form of routine. When I’m organised it makes me able to do ‘me’ without any added worries.

I can now see the good that has come to my life from the lessons I've learnt in recent years. I feel lucky to now have a wider world-view. My past struggles taught me humility. I can really relate and understand and have compassion for people who go through different difficulties. The whole experience gave me a real interest in mental health, and with my interest in continual learning, I can see myself doing some postgraduate study in counselling or psychology one day. That’s a long term goal for me. I would really love to help other people, especially teenage girls, because that can be such an awkward, vulnerable and difficult time. 

My life approach is to take life one day at a time. That’s really all that matters for me. I think that it’s awesome to recognise that just because I feel a certain way today, does not mean that I will feel that way tomorrow or in a year’s time, or ten years’ time. Life can change so much and I truly believe that things in my life can be turned around, no matter where I am or how I am feeling. As Seneca says “Fire is the test of gold; adversity of strong men.” I feel the fire and let it empower me. Whatever it is, I’m stronger once I get through it. This is what I know to be true.

Aimee experienced depression from the age of 15-17.

How you felt as a result?
I suffered from ongoing panic attacks
Lost
Hopeless
Conflicted
Struggled to connect with loved ones who didn't quite understand what I was going through.

Did you take prescribed medication?
No

Were there any triggers that exacerbated your feelings?
Feeling isolated and strange compared to my peers.
Teen romance gone wrong.

Was there a turning point when things started to get better?
I went to see a psychiatrist, I remember he said to me; 

“You can choose the life you want to live, you have the control to make it turn out how you imagine it.” 

For me that was an epiphany. For so long I had felt consumed by my feelings, as though I had no choice in how I felt. That day changed that, and it has been an ongoing journey for me reminding myself of  that. I really remember that session with him that day. It made me realise that I can either let the feelings rule me, or I can start moving forward in a positive way. From that day on things slowly started to change for me. More recently, that message was reiterated for me in the book “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer, which I recommend to anyone going through a tough time.

 

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