MY JOUR­NEY

For­mer ten­nis star Je­lena Do­kic on how she trans­formed her life, in­side and out.

The West Australian - - TODAY -

Je­lena Do­kic is look­ing the best she has in years but the for­mer ten­nis star isn’t fo­cus­ing on num­bers when it comes to dis­cussing her stag­ger­ing weight loss.

The 36-year-old, who re­port­edly reached al­most 120kg at her heav­i­est, says what re­ally mat­ters is she is feel­ing the best she has her whole life, and that came ahead of shed­ding the ki­los.

Speak­ing on the phone dur­ing a re­cent hol­i­day in Croa­tia, where In­sta­gram posts of her bikini body at­tracted plenty of praise from fans, Do­kic says men­tal and phys­i­cal wellbeing go hand-in-hand.

“I was re­ally good men­tally even while my weight was kind of higher than where it should be but that’s where it kind of started. For me, be­ing men­tally healthy, I was able to get the phys­i­cal part,” she says.

“I’ve lost a huge amount of weight but it’s a lot more than num­bers, it’s more about be­ing able to take con­trol of your life and lead­ing a healthy lifestyle and just feel­ing good be­cause for some­one that was a pro­fes­sional ath­lete, not be­ing

able to just do nor­mal things like go­ing for a run was re­ally dif­fi­cult.”

Do­kic has made no se­cret of her long bat­tle with de­pres­sion, which re­sulted in sub­stan­tial weight gain through com­fort eat­ing.

“It’s not an overnight fix. So for me, I tried a lot of dif­feren things and I failed a lot of times,” she re­veals.

She ad­mits there have been times she doubted she could ever get her weight un­der con­trol and lead a healthy lifestyle.

“So I think it all kind of starts with deal­ing with ment ill­ness and try­ing to get bet­ter and then ev­ery­thing else falls into place,” she says.

“Just to be able to en­joy cer­tain things again, en­joy lif and, again, not feel de­pressed about it all, it's been great. An yeah, look, it makes me feel re­ally kind of proud of be­ing able to do that be­cause I was a long way away from that.”

She will be speak­ing about her 15-year strug­gle with men­tal ill­ness at the WA Men­tal Health Con­fer­ence in Perth next week, which in­cludes al­most com­mit­ting sui­cide at just 22 years of age.

In her 2017 book Un­break­able, she doc­u­ments

‘I think it all kind of starts with deal­ing with men­tal ill­ness and try­ing to get bet­ter and then ev­ery­thing else falls into place.’

years of abuse she was sub­jected to by her fa­ther but says that is a chap­ter of her life that is over and she sleeps well at night know­ing she made an ef­fort to make peace with him.

“I’ve tried to make that re­la­tion­ship bet­ter and to give it a chance and maybe down the road fix it and it’s im­pos­si­ble with a per­son like that,” she says.

“It’s im­por­tant to move on and just have peo­ple in your life that are not go­ing to drag you down, that are not go­ing to be toxic, and that are go­ing to be ba­si­cally there for you, and they’re ac­tu­ally go­ing to be healthy for you.

“And I think I’m get­ting older as well and the closer I get to hav­ing my own fam­ily, I re­alise just how im­por­tant it is. I’ve done ev­ery­thing. I’ve tried.

“I think that’s also been a very im­por­tant part of get­ting bet­ter men­tally, I think you’ve got to get rid of all the bad stuff in your life.”

Do­kic now fo­cuses her en­ergy on spread­ing the mes­sage and rais­ing aware­ness of men­tal ill­ness.

“Some­times when you’re bat­tling men­tal ill­ness, you feel like no one will un­der­stand, you feel like some­times maybe it’s even shame­ful to talk about that — I know I felt bad at times,” she ex­plains.

“Some­times, just by talk­ing about it, we can help so many peo­ple but I think it’s just as im­por­tant for even peo­ple that aren’t go­ing through men­tal ill­ness to lis­ten up and see what you can do and how you can help be­cause for sure you’re go­ing to meet peo­ple that do.”

Although she says the aware­ness around men­tal ill­ness has vastly im­proved from the time she was first go­ing through it 15 years ago, there is still a lot that can be done in that space.

“It’s that first step say­ing ‘I’m not OK, I need help’, that’s where it starts and very of­ten you feel very lonely and like there’s no one out there that un­der­stands you, so that’s where the whole men­tal health con­fer­ence in it­self is very im­por­tant to spread that mes­sage.”

Life­line 13 11 14.

Je­lena Do­kic. Pic­ture: Si­mon Santi Left: Do­kic play­ing in the Aus­tralian Open in 2009. Pic­ture: AP

Do­kic dur­ing her play­ing days in 2009 (right), and with Mark Philip­pous­sis when they won the 1998 Hop­man Cup in 1998 (far right). Pic­ture: AP

For more in­for­ma­tion on the WA Men­tal Health Con­fer­ence see waamh.org.au. Do­kic shared this be­fore-and-after on so­cial me­dia ear­lier this year. Pic­ture: In­sta­gram

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