Journey to Health Ft. Lynne Zombie!

"To travel to it take a journey within yourself" - Danny Kaye

In our modern world, it is easy to be passive, but incredibly hard to be passionate. We accept the norms and conform to social pressures, however when it comes to being an advocate for positive mental health I find a deep-seated passion. Talking about myself and my struggles can become redundant, although my journey is relevant, there is so many people out there with stories to tell also. I had the pleasure of sitting down with a friend of mine Lynne Gorman recently, and she agreed to speak out about her struggles with depression and anxiety on A Judge Less Life. She has always spoke to me about how someone sharing their story with you is a gift, a blessing even, something I now find to be true. How many times have you found yourself at the end of a conversation with a stranger, while you edge away and plan you escape from the interaction so you can seek solace in your phone? I have done as much many times, as a commuter people would engage you on public transport, innocently willing to share a snippet of their lives. Only now do I think about the probable need that person may have felt to engage, feel a friendly connection and simply just want some company. As Lynne sat down to speak to me I was brought back to these moments, and I felt and inherent guilt for what if I missed someone’s needs to ask for help? I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our inability to engage beyond our borders before I share with you the gift of Lynne’s journey to health.

Lynne’s journey began many years ago, as someone who was prone to spells of anxiety and depression she found moments of clarity to climb from the darkness of ill mental health and persevere. However, her health took a dive deeper than she has ever experienced before, and her journey back to health was lengthy and full of diversions.

In 2014 after the birth of her 4th child, Lynne was juggling a booming cake business and family life. While she juggled on she was incredibly sleep deprived, barely getting 4 to 5 hours sleep a night which was unyielding broken. Little did her and her partner Eddie know at the time that their Son would soon be diagnosed with Autism. Although the diagnosis helped put steps in place to ensure their Son have the best start possible, it also signalled their sleep deprivation was not going to end anytime soon. Lynne opens up to reveal, “This is when my hair started to fall out, and I got into a vicious circle of depression and anxiety. The stress my body was under from working a lot of hours in my caking business, plus running on minimal sleep, and not having optimal nutrition caused the hair loss”. The loss of hair can result in a significant blow to one’s confidence, and Lynne who found great comfort in her lengthy hair found herself floored when she lost over 50% of it in a short period. As a public figure who was beginning to dip her toes into the world of plus size modelling, her body displaying its pain, via the hair loss. felt extra pressing as she worked endless hours in the pursuit of a greater life for her family.

Although sleep was the ultimate healer in Lynne’s case she tells us that, “When I had the opportunity to sleep, I couldn’t. Bedtime was such stressful time, so much so that when I would go to bed, and I would lay down, I would start to have a panic attack because I didn’t know how the night was going to pan out”. She found herself asking, “How am I going to get myself out of this”

I could feel Lynne’s discomfort at times reliving such a difficult period of her life. For me as someone with no children I have only ever experienced mental health difficulties as an individual with other my significant other to worry about. Although I faced adversity, I wondered how a Mother felt going through such pain. In a world that glorifies Motherhood, do we really allow parents the freedom to seek help for their mental illness without feeling guilty? Lynne ultimately made the decision to close down her business in an attempt to regain some time, this only added to the mounting guilt but it was an essential choice she tells us, “I felt as though I was failing.  But my son being diagnosed with Autism took precedent over everything in our lives, and giving him the best start in life became our focus”. Supporting a then family of 6 meant that although she was granted a momentary relief in closing the home-based business, she then had to go seek employment outside of the home. Lynne adds, “It was not easy, but I felt as though it was the better option for us all”. Her selflessness and love for her family is consistent on her journey, as she opened the valve on a steaming pot the risk of explosion was reduced but her still bubbling mental health difficulties raged on. “Either way I felt I was letting my family down in one way or another, and I struggled with that”, Lynne remarks always drawing attention back to the hard work her partner Eddie does as a Step Father and a full-time carer to their Son. As always when I speak to Lynne I am warmed by her selflessness, and saddened by the pain her felt within herself along her journey. 

As Lynne searched for the solution, the solution found her in the form of Michelle Flynn. “For the first time, in years, I felt hopeful because as she sat across from me, she put her hand on mine, she looked me dead in the eye and she said, ‘I can help you’”. Thus began Lynne’s journey back to health through Pilates.

Under the guidance of Michelle she tells us that, “I started to use Pilates as a focus. Pilates uses a deep breathing technique called deep thoracic breathing, and it really makes you breathe deeply. Just that practice alone is very calming, and zen. I really started to feel that, I noticed the further we went on, the deeper I could breathe, and the more it calmed me”. Despite having lost 5 stone at this point in her life, the more she explored herself she came to the realisation that she had been struggling with disordered eating for many years, “I had been battling with an eating disorder for years, I was a food addict and food had a huge hold on me”.

You may be reading this rejoicing, a light is in finally in sight. However, if you have suffered with an eating disorder, anxiety and/or depression you will know Lynne’s battle was only truly beginning. As she attempted to implement changes to her lifestyle and diet, her panic attacks returned with a vengeance. “I am very resilient to change, I always have been. So, I had to battle with myself to let go of the fear, of letting go of the food”, she expresses with the purest sense of self understanding. With the support of Michelle, her family and friends she pushed through the adversity her mental health had imposed upon her, and she drew strength from the love for her family and her desire to be well for not only herself but for each of her children and Eddie.

“There were mornings I showed up to Pilates at 7am, laid on the mat and got through the class with tears in my eyes from the very minute my leg rose off the mat, until we stretched at the end. I cried. Michelle Flynn was my mentor, my best friend, and my councillor some days”, Lynne beams with a pure determined glow when she speaks of Michelle. Something one cannot feign, that strength emerging despite the hard memories this conversation drew up for her.

Lynne understands her journey is far from over, “My journey has not been easy, I still have bouts of depression and anxiety, but I find I now have the tools to deal with them! Before a depressive episode might have lasted several weeks, but not it may only be a for few days, and often only as short as a few hours”. I feel that in a sense I have been given a gift as Lynne finishes our conversation with a reminder to not only herself, but to each one of you who read this piece, “Remember it is a bad day, not a bad life”.

Like viewing a picture, we have been welcomed into a snapshot of the incredible Lynne Zombie’s journey. I come away from each conversation I have with her feeling as though there is so much more to learn, and to witness, as she continues her journey to health. I have watched Lynne be subject to abuse online, where her authenticity has been drawn into question. As someone who has spent a significant amount of time talking to her in depth about life, love and everything in between I can wholeheartedly say that she is a pure, uncensored, honest, and genuine in all she shares online.

As a friend, I want to take this moment to congratulate Lynne on being strong enough to share her journey with us all, to continue to wade through the trenches of mental illness and her triumphs as a Mother to her 4 incredibly humble children, and being a loving partner Eddie (Although her excessive love sickens me at times… she knows I love her).

Through Lynne I have learned of wealth beyond material items, and found a sense of peace within myself. I won’t ever neglect a conversation with a stranger, and now I am often the one to initiate the connection.

Be sure to follow Lynne on Instagram and Facebook, and check out Michelle Flynn also! 

Learning to judge less and live 'A Judge Less Life'
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