Kaleigh’s Story: Loving Yourself Beyond the Stigma of Mental Illness

Written By: Kaleigh Atkinson

The idea of loving myself was completely foreign until I realized I had no other option.


My depression was so bad I could barely pull myself from my wooden bedroom floor. Nothing mattered, every conversation and every day melted together. I was unfulfilled with my work as a waitress – working doubles barely getting by, living alone and in a toxic, long-distance romantic relationship. The days were long, a smiling made up facade working for tips daydreaming of how I could get out of this pointless life. The daydreams turned to plans, the plans turned into unspeakable pain that’s very hard for me to talk about.


In my moment of desperation I literally began to see a light. Some energy lifted my spirit and allowed me to understand this pain could be used for good. This depression, this eating disorder, this so-called pointless existence could be a way for me to express my experience in order to save other’s from the same sorrow. I began to film myself on my journey of healing. I began to understand the idea of light and dark, how we need both to survive – a balance that can be hard to understand but necessary in order to live with your shadow(s) and embrace your brightness.


I began to use the film project as a way to self-study, to observe my actions and thought patterns in order to become a better person and more accepting of the dis-ease in my life. Eventually that’s what empowered me to travel the globe alone and become an activist of sorts for radical self-compassion and body acceptance. I do the work I do in order to show people that they have the power to own their thoughts and their actions in order to heal.


Self-love is an ongoing battle for most of us. You have to want to heal in order to heal. You have to do the work in order to be a better person. You must accept and love your body and your being in order to accept true love from others. We can learn tools and create healthy habits in our routines in order to become more accepting and compassionate toward ourselves – therefore towards others.


I hope you will join in on this idea and this conversation with myself and Psychologist, Julie Stephens, on Wednesday, February 14 (how appropriate!) from 11:30-12:30pm for free in the yoga room. We’ll discuss how you can better handle your stress and how to develop a love for yourself that becomes a priority.


With metta [loving-kindness],

PS: There may be homemade chocolate involved <3

WRITTEN BY Kaleigh Atkinson

Kaleigh Atkinson

Awareness of the raw beauty that exudes throughout our world has always been Kaleigh's artistic motivation as a photographer and filmmaker. Finding pure beauty in day to day life and within herself came from a prescription of yoga and meditation. For the past decade, Kaleigh focused on Ashtanga Yoga, but she recently sought change from the traditional style and began studying Ayurveda (an ancient Indian system of medicine) and focusing on a daily meditation practice. The last year of her life has been devoted to traveling the world to learn more about herself and deepening her yoga practice. Living in the spiritual paradise that is Byron Bay, Australia opened Kaleigh's eyes to a new perspective on holistic wellness and the yogic lifestyle. Kaleigh moved from Byron Bay to Bali and the Blue Mountains in Australia to participate in a truly life changing 10 day silent meditation retreat known as Vipassana. Finalizing a year of travel and study, Kaleigh visited Mexico to fulfill her 200 hour yoga teacher training. As a teacher, Kaleigh's yogic philosophy will ground you in the present moment of spirit & body. You'll sweat, laugh, grow stronger and more flexible - and simply feel healthier, mentally and physically.

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