De­fy­ing de­pres­sion

A mis­car­riage drove Ni­cole Lee into de­spair. Through well­ness, she re­gained strength to beat the odds.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - People - By WIL­LIAM K.C. KEE star2@thes­

WHEN a ma­jor tragedy oc­curs, it in­evitably proves to be a life-chang­ing event.

For Ni­cole Lee, her once “per­fect” world crum­bled 11 years ago due to a mis­car­riage.

“I was seven months preg­nant and I lost my son, and my whole world fell apart,” re­called Lee, who, in­ci­den­tally, cel­e­brates her 44th birth­day to­day.

The for­merly-bub­bly Lee found her­self sink­ing into de­pres­sion.

“I couldn’t sleep, and ev­ery­thing just spi­ralled. I found my­self lethar­gic and eas­ily fa­tigued. I be­came more anx­ious and ag­i­tated.

“My mind was go­ing crazy, and I was ques­tion­ing my ex­is­tence in life. At my low­est point, I even thought of tak­ing my own life,” mused Pe­nang-born Lee. “I went back to work, but I was like a walk­ing zom­bie. For a year, I couldn’t eat or sleep.”

What ul­ti­mately snapped Lee out of her zom­bie-like state was an en­counter with her mother.

“I could see so much worry in her eyes, that she knew some­thing was not right with me. I told my­self that I could not al­low this to hap­pen to me, as I didn’t want to dis­ap­point my mum.”

Ac­cord­ing to Lee, doctors pre­scribed her anti-de­pres­sion pills, but she re­jected them. “I al­ways knew since young that I had strong will power, and I con­di­tioned my­self to beat the odds.”

Thus, be­gan Lee’s jour­ney on a path of self-dis­cov­ery and well­ness.

“It took me a month to re­gain proper sleep. I tried ev­ery sin­gle thing, from lis­ten­ing to sooth­ing mu­sic, to laven­der oils and drink­ing warm milk. I also dis­cov­ered yoga.

“Most im­por­tant was med­i­tat­ing, re­lax­ing and let­ting go. One takes the lessons you’re meant to learn, and move on. To­day, I am truly con­tent with my life. And I used nat­u­ral ways to over­come de­pres­sion, not with pills.”

Presently, Lee has a hec­tic work sched­ule; she is the com­mu­ni­ca­tions, dig­i­tal and me­dia di­rec­tor (Pro­fes­sional Prod­ucts Divi­sion) at L’Oreal Malaysia.

“I have six brands un­der my port­fo­lio. We or­gan­ise prod­uct launches and I con­stantly work with me­dia, key in­flu­encers, celebri­ties and so­cialites.”

For big events like L’Oreal Colour Tro­phy, said Lee, ev­ery­thing has to go per­fectly on that day. “We al­ways have to do bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous year.”

Lee doesn’t deny that her pro­fes­sion al­lows for cer­tain perks and glam­orous mo­ments, in­clud­ing brush­ing shoul­ders with fa­mous per­son­al­i­ties.

“I never thought I’d be able to meet per­son­al­i­ties such as Datuk Jimmy Choo and L’Oreal am­bas­sadors Kris­ten Dunst and Yoon Eun Hye,” en­thused Lee. “But be­hind the scenes, we do a lot of work that peo­ple don’t see.”

On a daily ba­sis, Lee has to work with hair­styl­ists from var­i­ous sa­lons. “Nowa­days, I also have to deal with mil­len­ni­als. So, one needs to adapt and be flex­i­ble, to be able to talk with them. Be­ing in a com­pany which is a hair and beauty au­thor­ity, we need to be con­nected to all these peo­ple.”

To cope with her de­mand­ing job, Lee does med­i­ta­tion to calm the mind. “Ex­er­cis­ing also helps. When you ex­er­cise, your body will release en­dor­phins.”

Eat­ing right is also im­por­tant. “I’ve gone into ‘juic­ing’. I use fruit juices and Chi­nese herbal medicine to com­bat any ail­ment. I am very in­ter­ested in nat­u­ral meth­ods, such as ayurvedic and oil pulling,” ex­plained Lee.

“I al­ways re­mind my­self, God has blessed me with so many good things in life. Ev­ery­day, I write five things that I am grate­ful about in my grat­i­tude jour­nal ... it’s a bed­time rit­ual. The more I write, the more I find there’s so much to look for­ward to in life.

“When I was younger, I was too busy chas­ing ma­te­ri­al­ism,” said Lee, who was pre­vi­ously with Sin­ga­pore Air­lines for four years.

“As a flight at­ten­dant, I got to travel a lot, but I didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate it. I felt en­ti­tled and was very at­tached to ma­te­rial things. I have learnt to let go of all of that.”

Like ev­ery­one else, Lee nat­u­rally has her bad days. “But as I go on this jour­ney, I’ve be­come more easy-go­ing. I don’t sweat the small stuff in life any­more.”

Lee re­vealed: “Presently, some­one very close to me is bat­tling cancer. So, you learn about let­ting go, and that there are peo­ple who have it worse than you.”

Hav­ing over­come de­pres­sion, Lee now wants to share her life ex­pe­ri­ences with oth­ers.

“I con­duct work­shops for women; if I can touch even one life, it’s worth it. I teach women how to man­age day-to-day life and sim­ple breath­ing tech­niques and yoga poses,” said Lee, who reg­u­larly up­dates her ac­tiv­i­ties on Instagram (@bcom­ing­ni­cole).

Her long term goal? To make a pil­grim­age to an ashram in Ban­ga­lore, In­dia.

Copy­right © 1995-2017 Star Me­dia Group Ber­had (ROC 10894D)

Lee, who has over­come de­pres­sion, wants to share her life ex­pe­ri­ences with oth­ers. — NI­COLE LEE

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