This week on Inspiring Journeys we have the gorgeous Louise Pontin (27) from The Mind Movement, Louise is an accredited Exercise Physiologist from Melbourne in Australia and she has a beautiful message of self acceptance for you. This lady is on a mission to change the way we view mental health challenges and you better listen to what she has to say, because it is so real and beautiful.
Louise has lived with depression for almost a decade and she is here to share her journey with you and her lessons along the way. She wants to help you explore your own darkness so that you can then experience the power of your own light, and oh boy, she has got a very valid point.
Lets help her remove the stigma around mental health and spread this message of self acceptance and learning to live and love with all that represents you.
I have found this beautiful quote on her page and I think it says a lot.
“Owning our story can be hard, but not as difficult as spending our lives running away from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous and giving up on love and joy – the experiences that makes us most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brene Brown
Tell me a bit about your journey, the difficulties and bumps you have encountered along the way?
My journey has been going on for a long while! (a lifetime, really). One of the major thing that stands out when I think about difficulties is living with depression for the last 8 or 9 years. I have had my ups and downs with this experience, as many do. When I was first diagnosed I was so against the idea of being labelled as someone who was depressed. I also really didn’t like the idea of taking antidepressants. But I felt so crappy living in my own mind that I decided to go along with it. Best decision I ever made – it made such a difference to my state of mind. Over the next couple of years though, I learned (slowly – the hard way) that what I did with my lifestyle affected my mood a whole lot. So much so that while the medication helped to get me out of the depths of depression, I would fall back there even while still on meds, if I didn’t maintain a healthy lifestyle. This looked like drinking less alcohol, figuring out what foods nourished me, and my ultimate biggie – doing regular movement.Over the last ten years I have also had to deal with: IBS, chronic joint pain, two surgeries and a long rehab period, none of which have made maintaining a healthy mental state any easier!
What was your aha moment? What pushed you towards taking action and taking steps towards change?
A huge learning curve was learning to prioritise and look after ME – instead of trying to fit in with friends or peers. This really started with me spending a night in hospital after downing a half bottle of vodka and trying to hurt myself – it took that low for me to realise that the people I was spending my time with weren’t lifting me up, but dragging me down. At that point I moved out of my share house, got a place by myself, and started the journey towards self-love and self-acceptance – and really honouring myself for who I am.
Describe yourself before your journey of transformation/awakening.
Functioning, funny and confident – on the outside. Yearning for love and connection and belonging on the inside, and struggling in the process. Depressed and searching for SOMETHING, while pretending I was fine.
What has been the most significant change in your life?
My relationship with myself. The level of love, acceptance and self-compassion that exists now is huge compared to what it was then. Instead of hating myself for being depressed and wanting to punish myself, I now (try to) have compassion, understanding and acceptance for myself in those moments. I have also significantly changed my lifestyle – from drinking a lot, partying and not honouring my body, to eating consciously, rarely drinking alcohol and prioritising movement and mindfulness. Movement especially has turned from something I did to be fit or look good, to something I do for my mind – it’s the biggest tool I turn to when I want to improve my mood, increase my energy, get new creative ideas, and get some calm and peace in my mind.
Looking back, do you now understand that the difficulties you went through were a part of your journey? And if so, what have you discovered about yourself through going through your experiences? What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself?
I think that my purpose is to support other people who are going through mental health challenges with compassion and love, by offering them guidance on how to use movement for their mind. There’s no way I could do what I do without having experienced all this myself. There is a purpose to all the lessons I’ve learned, and while it’s been extremely hard at times, ultimately I’m grateful for it.
I won’t ask you what advice you would like to have given your younger self because I know your younger self wouldn’t have listened. But what you wish you knew back then?
That I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t broken, that I didn’t need ‘fixing’. That searching for love and connection by spending time with random men I met wouldn’t work – I needed to find my own self-love and connect with my own needs first.
What has been your most important life lesson?
The most important person in your lifeto love, accept and support you – is you.
What was the main belief you had to change in your life in order for you to be able to move forward?
That I’m not broken. This has been such a hugely repetitive thought that still occasionally pops up when I’m feeling depressed. Also the realisation that thoughts that I have aren’t necessarily true. This was HUGE – especially when the thoughts are as above – that I’m broken! I have now learned to have that thought, notice it as being there, but not buy into it as truth.
If you were to give an advice to someone who is feeling lost, hopeless and struggling in life right now, what would it be?
Get some support. There are so many people out there who have been where you have been. Things will pass, it’s the nature of life – but it is SO much easier to get through it when you have the right support. This might be friends, family members, or professionals.
Three words to describe yourself now?
Compassionate, connected and committed (to growth).
What is your most heartfelt belief in life? Share your message with the world! What are you most passionate about?
I’m SO passionate about spreading the word about the incredible positive effect that movement can have on your mind. I hope that the work I do in this area also helps to decrease the stigma and shame associated with having mental illness or mental health challenges – letting people know that they are not alone, and even more, that they are not broken, is a huge passion area of mine.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I currently have availability in my coaching schedule for people who think that having some compassionate support to learn to use exercise to manage their mood could improve their wellbeing. See more on my website here.
You can find more about Louise and her story on her blog The Mind Movement.
Want to connect with Louise? Here are some links…
Louise Pontin – The Mind Movement
Louise is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) specialising in mental health. She works as an AEP in the development of a new Youth Early Psychosis Program and in private practice, where she helps people learn how to use movement to manage their mood. She holds a Bachelor of Exercise and Health Science and a Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology. She has extra training in ACT and Non-Violent Communication (NVC) and uses these approaches in her one-on-one work with clients. Louise also writes a blog about moving for your mind, and runs community workshops in NVC, mindful-movement, and self-compassion for exercise and health behaviours.
Inspiring Journeys is an empowering interviews series with women who have overcome life’s adversities and turned their lives around, finding themselves along the way.
I have started this interview series because I believe that we all have the power to turn our lives around and find a new route, a route that is guided by our heart.
The universe has funny ways of shaking things up and making us wake up to what is really important in life and what we are here to do, embracing our challenges and growing from our experiences is a wonderful gift.
I have invited some beautiful and inspiring women to be a part of these series and I am so happy to share their journey, wisdom and heartfelt messages with you.
My wish for you is that you find hope, inspiration and courage to follow your heart and use your struggles as your own opportunity for growth and transformation.
Know anyone living with depression? We would love for you to share this interview with them, lets spread this beautiful message.
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