‘ You WILL sur­vive... and thrive’

Jill Nys­tul fell prey to de­pres­sion and ad­dic­tion, sought ther­apy, pur­sued her pas­sion and, fi­nally, came back from the edge. In her new avatar, hav­ing mas­tered the art of rein­ven­tion, the blog­ger, au­thor, en­trepreneur and DIY diva shares her story

WKND - - Interview - BY SUSH­MITA BOSE

LIFE GUIDE: Jill’s mem­oir about her jour­ney through ad­dic­tion and re­cov­ery, and the suc­cess of her blog, was pub­lished by Put­nam Books last May erendip­ity. That’s how I came across Jill Nys­tul. On a lazy Satur­day, I was look­ing for a ‘ home- made’ face mask ( the back story: I had an avocado fes­ter­ing in the fridge and was won­der­ing if some­thing other than gua­camole could be thrashed out of it). That’s when I chanced upon Jill’s allth­ings- DIY blog ‘ One Good Thing by Jillee’. Her face mask recipes were bril­liant, but I was more in­trigued by her bio ( that popped up help­fully on the screen). It said, mat­ter- of- factly, how, at one point, Jill had been be­sieged by de­pres­sion and ad­dic­tion — even though, as she pointed out later, she had no real rea­son to be spi­ralling out of con­trol back then.

Clearly, she wasn’t ashamed to talk about the rough and tum­ble of life. A ran­dom mes­sage I left on her ‘ Con­tact Us’ tab de­vel­oped into a can­did con­ver­sa­tion, across time zones ( Jill lives in Utah, in the US). ‘ Bad things’, she later told me, l i ke the ones that dealt a body blow to her, can hap­pen to ANY­ONE. You never know why, or when. At times, you don’t even have a rea­son. “But re­mem­ber,” she says, “you’re not alone, so get help.” Like she did. And, then, slowly picked up the pieces of her life.

It’s per­haps only fit­ting Jill’s blog is called One Good Thing, and her book One Good Life: My Tips, My Wis­dom, My Story. Life is what you make of it. Let it be good.

Jill spoke to wknd. ex­ten­sively about her strug­gles, her rein­ven­tion (‘ re- birth’), her tri­umphs, her blog, her busi­ness, her book, and even shared some DIY tips.

Ex­cerpts from an in­ter­view with a rather re­mark­able woman. ROADMAP: “I wanted to reach out to oth­ers who were pos­si­bly go­ing through their own chal­lenges and of­fer them some­thing ‘ good’ each day,” says Jill of her blog One

IN A HAPPY PLACE: Jill with her fam­ily, her big­gest sup­port sys­tem, to­day To­day, you are a full- time blog­ger and run a beauty/ life­style web­site that of­fers amaz­ing DIY so­lu­tions. You also have a le­gion of fans and fol­low­ers. But the back- story — of your ad­dic­tion, and your beat­ing it — stands out as a life les­son. When — and why — did you suc­cumb to it? About 10 years ago, my fairly smooth life’s path sud­denly turned fright­en­ingly bumpy. I started go­ing through what I can only de­scribe as a midlife cri­sis. Contributing fac­tors in­cluded the cul­ture shock of mov­ing from a large met­ro­pol­i­tan area to a small town, post­par­tum de­pres­sion, my son’s Type 1 Di­a­betes di­ag­no­sis and so on. Ba­si­cally, it boiled down to the fact that I was mar­ried with four won­der­ful kids and had every­thing I thought I ever wanted — and I was mis­er­able. I wanted “more” than the life I had carved out for my­self. That in it­self might not have been such a bad thing, but un­for­tu­nately the choices I made led me down a dark and per­ilous path. If there’s one thing I hope to con­vey to ev­ery­one who reads this, it’s none of us know our propen­sity to be­come ad­dicted! It can hap­pen to ANY­ONE!.

I started drink­ing so­cially at first ( which in it­self was shock­ing be­cause I had never been drinker.) Then, it turned ugly. Soon, I started drink­ing to numb the pain, which only mul­ti­plied the pain I would feel later. And on and on it went for about a year and a half when my life was fi­nally spin­ning out of con­trol. I was cre­at­ing chaos in the lives of my four chil­dren and my hus­band. I of­ten say, “I should be dead or in jail”, and I don’t say that for the shock value be­cause that very well could have been the out­come of my very bad de­ci­sions at that time.

On Thanks­giv­ing 2008, I fi­nally reached what we ad­dicts re­fer to as our “rock bot­tom.” I spent the en­tire hol­i­day “miss­ing in ac­tion” in and out of an al­co­holic blackout while my fam­ily didn’t know if I were dead or alive.

That’s when my fam­ily found me the help I couldn’t seem to find for my­self and I agreed to go into a res­i­den­tial abuse pro­gramme; 78 days later I grad­u­ated on my birth­day… which is now also my RE- birth­day.

How do you think you had the strength to put to­gether the pieces? Re­hab was one of the hard­est and one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. Mak­ing the de­ci­sion to get help was ag­o­nis­ing. I wasn’t in a great place to make the de­ci­sion for my­self, but the bot­tom line was I owed it to my loved ones if noth­ing else. And once I was think­ing more clearly I was able to see I owed it to my­self too.

It helped im­mensely that I had a sup­port group around me that sought out the help I didn’t know I needed. Once I was in a safe place with other peo­ple who were go­ing through the same thing, I was able to for­give my­self enough to start the heal­ing and re­cov­ery process.

To­day, what would you tell some­body who feels he/ she is likely to go down the same path you em­barked upon once? The ab­so­lute FIRST thing I would tell them is they are not alone. In­tel­lec­tu­ally, it’s easy to see that many, many peo­ple suf­fer from life chal­lenges… but when you are in that dark place, you tell your­self you are the only one feel­ing like this, or do­ing these self- de­struc­tive things. Once I got into a group ther­apy set­ting, I was shocked and re­lieved to see there were peo­ple just like me go­ing through the ex­act same thing — and in some cases, much worse. SEC­OND, seek help. There is no shame in ad­mit­ting that some­thing you’re go­ing through is big­ger than you and that you can’t beat it back alone. Be­ing able to process every­thing I was go­ing through with oth­ers go­ing through the same thing was truly a rev­e­la­tion to me and the best “medicine” I could have ever been pre­scribed. THIRD: Try­ing to ease the pain through self- de­struc­tive be­hav­iour may mask the pain for a mo­ment, but over­all makes it so much worse. “Drown­ing your sor­row” is a cliché be­cause it is, in fact, a fact. FOURTH: Find your pas­sion and pur­sue it! In re­hab I re­ceived the most im­por­tant ad­vice of my life. My coun­sel­lors told me I needed to “pur­sue my pas­sion” or I would end up right where I’d started. They didn’t just say it was a good idea; they said it was manda­tory. I’d spent a lot of time in de­struc­tive be­hav­iour try­ing to es­cape my pain; I needed to re­place that with some­thing pos­i­tive.

Do­ing what I was pas­sion­ate about not only kept me out of trou­ble, but I was fi­nally do­ing what I loved, and lov­ing what I do! And be­cause I loved what I was do­ing, I worked hard at it! I spent many late nights work­ing on my lap­top crank­ing out con­tent for my blog and, a year and a half later, my coun­sel­lor’s ad­vice be­gan to pay off. I was able to quit my day job and work on the blog full time. Five years later, I have 4 full- time em­ploy­ees and my web­site re­ceives be­tween 90- 100K vis­i­tors a day and 3- 4 mil­lion page views a month. FIFTH: You will get through your tri­als and not only sur­vive but THRIVE! If some­one had told me 10 years ago that to­day I would be earn­ing a six- fig­ure in­come and be the CEO of a suc­cess­ful busi­ness, I would have laughed. Yet, here I am, hap­pier and more suc­cess­ful that I could ever have imag­ined.

How im­por­tant is a sup­port net­work? I’m ask­ing be­cause a lot of ex­pats in Dubai ( it’s a city where 87 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion com­prise of ex­pats) live alone, away from fam­i­lies. How­can one cope with any­thing that could be linked to de­pres­sion — while stay­ing awayfrom home and a sup­port base? Even if you are away from home and fam­ily, you can al­ways find a sup­port group. When my son was first di­ag­nosed with Type 1 di­a­betes I felt com­pletely lost and alone. I went on­line to learn every­thing I could about the dis­ease and ended up find­ing a “par­ents of chil­dren with di­a­betes” sup­port group that be­came my life­line. I met peo­ple from all over the world who were go­ing through the same thing I was and still re­main dear friends years later.

If you can’t find an es­tab­lished sup­port group, make your own. One wellplaced, heart­felt Tweet or Face­book post ask­ing peo­ple, who are go­ing through a chal­lenge sim­i­lar to yours, to share could make all the dif­fer­ence. We all need each other to make it through this thing called ‘ Life’ and I’ve been amazed at how much

ANTI- AGE­ING FACE & BODY SERUM This DIY beauty recipe is SO easy. Two in­gre­di­ents… no mea­sur­ing needed!

In­gre­di­ents: Sweet al­mond oil Aloe vera gel

Method: Com­bine equal parts al­mond oil and aloe vera gel in a small flip- top bot­tle. Shake to com­bine. ( You will need to shake it be­fore each EX­FO­LI­AT­ING FACE MASK Ev­ery once in a while, your face needs a good ex­fo­li­at­ing scrub. Ex­fo­li­a­tion re­moves dead skin cells, leav­ing the new skin clean and glow­ing. Ex­fo­li­at­ing keeps skin is­sues at bay while cre­at­ing a smoother sur­face that leaves your skin more re­cep­tive to mois­turis­ers, lo­tions, and makeup. A weekly treat­ment will main­tain smooth skin and a beau­ti­ful glow.

In­gre­di­ents: 3 tbsp bak­ing soda 1 tea­spoon honey 1 tea­spoon Vi­ta­min E oil 1/ 4 tea­spoon cin­na­mon pow­der 3 to 4 tea­spoons milk

Method: Mix all the in­gre­di­ents in a use be­cause it will sep­a­rate.)

Why it’s good for you: Al­mond oil is loaded with es­sen­tial vi­ta­mins, in­clud­ing vi­ta­min E, which is a pow­er­ful an­tiox­i­dant that helps keep the skin hy­drated and fights free rad­i­cals. It’s also rich in fatty acids, which are great for your skin, and acts as both an emol­lient and a humec­tant be­cause it soft­ens skin, and then pre­vents mois­ture loss. Works won­ders for peo­ple with dry and itchy skin! small con­tainer and ap­ply to face ( this is enough for one thickly- ap­plied face mask). Gen­tly work the mix­ture into your skin in a cir­cu­lar mo­tion, then al­low the mask to dry for 10 to 15 min­utes. Rinse off with wa­ter, again us­ing a cir­cu­lar mo­tion for more ex­fo­li­at­ing ac­tion.

Why it’s good for you: The bak­ing soda in this recipe pro­vides the ex­fo­li­a­tion as it gen­tly scrubs away dead skin. The honey nat­u­rally hy­drates the skin and is rich in an­tiox­i­dants. Vi­ta­min E pro­tects and re­pairs your skin. Cin­na­mon has a warm­ing ef­fect on the skin; it brings oxy­gen- rich blood to the sur­face to kill bac­te­ria and detox­ify the skin. I have tried quite a few dif­fer­ent hair serums, and they all have their flaws. I came up with this recipe for a home­made hair serum that nat­u­rally leaves my hair soft and silky with­out weigh­ing it down.

In­gre­di­ents: 1 tbsp avocado oil 1 tbsp cas­tor oil 1.5 ounce flaxseed oil 25 drops es­sen­tial oil of your choice ( A few es­sen­tial oil op­tions: Use myrrh or pep­per­mint for dry hair. Laven­der or rose oil for fine hair to nor­mal hair. Add le­mon or chamomile for golden high­lights.)

Method: Pour the avocado and cas­tor oil in a 2- ounce dark glass bot­tle ( sun­light dam­ages the oils). Then, fill the rest of the bot­tle with flaxseed oil, and top with your es­sen­tial oil of choice. Store the serum in the fridge, give it a good shake be­fore each use, and ap­ply a small amount ( just a squirt or two) to damp hair be­fore blow dry­ing. You can also add a small amount to dry hair for a lit­tle ex­tra shine and mois­ture.

Why it’s good for you: Avocado oil is rich in vi­ta­mins A, B1, B2, B5, Vi­ta­min D, E, min­er­als, pro­tein, lecithin and fatty acids. It’s the per­fect hair mois­turiser! Cas­tor oil is rich in fatty acids, is sooth­ing and lu­bri­cat­ing. It smoothes cu­ti­cles and soft­ens coarse hair. Flaxseed oil ac­tu­ally pro­motes hair growth and is packed with Omega- 3 fatty acids. These oils all pen­e­trate and con­di­tion the scalp, help­ing with dan­druff and other flaky is­sues.

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