She's the girl who handed out flowers to a train full of strangers in a bid to erase the stigma associated with mental illness. The self confessed yogi with a radiant smile; Nikki Ayres is on a mission to normalise mental health issues, after being diagnosed herself with bipolar in 2014. She began the hashtag #CyaStigma as a way to bring awareness to not only the common illnesses such as depression/anxiety; but instead, all mental illnesses including behavioural disorders, addictions and eating disorders.
Being bipolar was not always a source of empowerment for Nikki, spending years feeling ashamed while keeping quite about her illness. 5 years later and this inspirational fighter is hosting her first speaking event for Beyond Blue “A Night Of Light”.
Hi Nikki, welcome to Healthy Karma! Can you tell us all about yourself?
Nikki: Yay ! Thank you for this awesome opportunity, so a little bit about me… My name is Nikki and I am a Yoga Teacher, Intuitive Healer, Health Coach, Speaker, Writer and Mental Health advocate. I wasn’t always this cool haha I used work in a job that didn’t bring me joy, I was chained to my desk and was unhappy most of my days. I was fortunate to have a strong intuition that guided me to where I am today, living my purpose, serving a purpose and shining my light.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to health?
Nikki: Health is not just about how much you exercise you do or what you put in your mouth, health is made up of so many different factors. As a health coach I look at how people rate their happiness on areas such as: Do they have positive relationships? Are they doing fulfilling work and do they have a strong spirituality practice that gives them hope and guidance? Because if one area of your life is out of balance then your overall health is affected.
For example if you dislike your job then your mood may be low, your relationships may suffer and you may compensate how you move your body and eat. Its so important to stay present and listen to your body at all times, when something negative arises energetically then you need to take action and respond with love. Maybe its booking in to see a counsellor, getting out in nature or just taking a moment to breathe.
Now I discovered you through the incredible video that had you handing out flowers on a train to create awareness for Mental Health. What is the #CyaStigma movement?
Nikki: Oh my goodness that was the most vulnerable and scary experience and I can’t rematch that video but it was so totally worth it as I made a few strangers day and got to spread the awareness of #CyaStigma . I came up with this hash tag because I got fed up with this whole “lets break the stigma and speak up on depression and anxiety” … like HELLO what about all the other mental illnesses?
I was diagnosed with Bipolar in 2014 and have felt a lot of shame over the years, no one really voices the other mental illness. So I closed my mouth and suffered in silence. In the last 12 month I gained some balls and was inspired by Demi Levato as she told the world she has bipolar. I thought to myself ok, if a famous singer with thousands of followers can get uncomfortable and share her darkest secret, so can I. As a result many people reached out to me sharing stories of their own pain and diagnosis and thats when I realised that we shouldn’t just be breaking the stigma we need to get rid of it completely Cya Later Stigma!!!
I closed my mouth and suffered in silence.
What was the defining moment for you? What was the moment that inspired you to start the #CyaStigma movement?
Nikki: I have wanted to do a random act of kindness love bomb for so long, I used to work in the city and commute on the train each day and I realised that those moments sitting on a crowded train is where I felt most alone. I would look around the carriage at dull lifeless faces and thought many people here are suffering alone. Fast forward 5 years later and I am running my first Speaking event for Beyond Blue “A Night Of Light” and I thought lets think outside the box and promote this event and this movement. I bought 100 flowers and individually hand wrote the event details with the hashtag #CyaStigma and busted on a peak hour train Monday morning playing Black Eyed Peas “where is the love”. It was crazzzzy and such a beautiful memory - (Watch whole video on my youtube channel).
Has mental health always been a passion for you?
Nikki: Before I was diagnosed no. Thats what's so sad, that people who are mentally well don’t really understand mental illness and the effects it has on a persons life. I can honestly say I am grateful and proud of my mental illness, it has been the best growing pain and teacher for me. I am so grateful I get to help inspire others to show them that despite a label you can actually still live a full and abundant life.
Finally do you have any advise for those who are starting the year feeling a little lost or uninspired?
what am I doing in my life that is weighing me down?