#IAMENOUGH - Mental Heath Series ft. Lindsey Larkin, Indoor Cycling Instructor

#IAMENOUGH - Mental Heath Series ft. Lindsey Larkin, Indoor Cycling Instructor

Coming all the way from NYC, Lindsey Larkin is one of the most popular indoor cycling and pilates instructors at Absolute You.

Although originally trained as an actress, she took her first spin class a few years ago.. and the rest is history! Not only did it combine her love for music, dance, and cycling; but it also allowed her to share her power-packed charisma and kick-ass attitude with fellow riders.

A firm believer that the way you choose to show up for yourself in the studio is great practice for how you choose to live your life outside of it, Lindsey seems to be the eternal optimist; full of vibrant energy with a “chilli padi” personality to boot.

At the same time, there’s a side that not many know…

"I struggle with depression and was diagnosed when I was about 20. I’ve spent time in the hospital and yes, attempted suicide.

As much as I appear to be the social, bubbly spin instructor, I can equally be the opposite. I do need lots of time alone to recharge and do what I need for my physical and mental health.

There have been many times where I lived a life that many would look at and envy (“she has everything”) on the outside. In reality, though, (and on the inside), I was planning my own suicide."

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What are some triggers that you are aware of, which lead you to negative thoughts & feelings?

The biggest trigger for me is the feeling of isolation. When I feel like I’m being rejected or that no one cares about my existence… things can get REALLY grim REALLY fast. There’s a constant battle in my head about whether my life actually holds value. When I start to see actual proof that I’m not adding value like how my friends don’t make time for me, how my boyfriend doesn’t want to be with me, or how I’m not working or contributing to my household, it can lead to a negative spiral.

The other trigger is something I can’t really control. Depression is also caused by an imbalance of chemicals in your head; chemicals that lead to overthinking, chemicals that lead to compulsive thoughts of looking for ways to die.

Have you ever sought help for your condition?

I’ve tried everything - I’ve been in therapy multiple times, started meditating, done reiki, and even cut myself off social media for extended periods of time.

The thing with depression, though, is that every time it “flares” up, it’s different. The only similarity is that when I’m in the midst of it, I often cannot see my way out. Given that, then, I just have to make sure I’m honest about my struggles with the people in my life that support me so that I stay safe. I’ve found that honesty has been really helpful in terms of asking for help (which is still hard for me) and expressing what I need.

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Do you still have “low” days? What do those days look like?

Of course I have low days! “Lows” usually last for weeks, and during those weeks, I cry.. A lot. I feel worthless and mostly convince myself that the world is a better place without me.

On a physical level, I find it hard to breathe without pain and moving is an arduous task. If the depression gets really bad, I can’t eat because everything makes me sick.

How do you manage to be the bubbly on the bike version of yourself when those days hit?

Honestly, connecting with other people and allowing myself to be present is the best thing I can do to silence the terrible thoughts that come.

Thankfully, those things are the core of my job! Even if it’s just a 60 min class, I have to be truly present; I am connected to those in my class… and it helps to pull me out of the negativity I may be facing.

If I’m not teaching, however, I’ll do my best to peel myself off the floor and FORCE myself to workout; not to punish my body but because of the serotonin I need for a quick boost. I don’t believe in putting on a mask and pretending everything is okay when its not; I want to be genuine and people can often see right through any facade I might put on.

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What do you do to maintain a healthy mind & body?

I’ve kept a journal since I was 15 and it’s been the best thing for me! I love the ability to look back and see my past thoughts and the raw emotions at any point in time - what has helped and what was hurting me in a particular situation, so that I can improve on my reactions in the future.

Being outside is the best place for me! Anywhere with trees, water, and where I can see plenty of sky is where I feel best. Singapore has obviously been AMAZING for that! I’m on my bike outside daily and I love being able to stop what I’m doing to listen to the wind in the trees and simply soak up the sun. It somehow makes me feel connected to something bigger than myself and whatever issues I’m dealing with.

I’m pretty obsessed with self-improvement so I can often be found listening to podcasts on anything and everything ranging from nonverbal communication to mental health.

You mentioned that you took breaks from social media for extended periods of time, what are your views on technology & social media and their effects on mental health?

There’s a place and time for social media… but I do think we are becoming increasingly disconnected from one another, resulting in a general lack of empathy.

Listen. I’m addicted to Instagram too. I love scrolling through feeds and all that. But… PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN AND BE PRESENT. Are you brave enough to keep your phone in your bag while you’re at dinner with friends?

Can you describe your experience when you were playing a supportive role to a family member / friend who had mental health issues?

One of my sisters has extreme anxiety and was at an all time low after giving birth to her second child. She was in therapy and medicated… but that’s often not enough. The only thing I could do was to just listen; listen with my whole being.

I let her tell me what she was thinking and reminded her that she wasn’t the freak she felt like she was.

Even though I struggle with mental health issues, I didn’t pretend to know or understand what she was going through. Mental health is tricky because we can’t see it or track its progress and it’s different for every single person going through it.

What is one piece of advice you have for those struggling?

First, PLEASE let other people in. Let the people you trust know what you are going through. I know it can be scary but the only way we can start to break down the stigma of mental illness is through honest communication. When you confide in someone else, the beauty is that you give them the permission to do the same.

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For those supporting?

I know it can be hard to understand what we’re going through but in the same way you wouldn’t advice someone with a broken leg to “just go for a run”, don’t tell anyone with depression to “just get over it and be happy”.

In general, we truly never know what is going on with anyone else and the best thing we can do is to be kind; to listen; to love. Everyone has some battle they are facing. We may not understand their struggles but we have the power to help them along simply with our actions and words.

Talk to the people you love. Put your phone down and ask them how they are feeling. Be willing to be vulnerable, weird and crazy. Because that is beautiful, too.

What is your go-to mantra?

I often think of this Native American Quote: “A fight is going on inside me, It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too. Which wolf will win?
The one you feed.”

We can’t be our strongest selves without allowing ourselves to accept our vulnerabilities and insecurities. It’s just about remembering that those “weaknesses” aren’t all of who you are!

"I hope we can, together, start more open communication about mental illnesses. The more we can communicate and be open, the more we’ll realise how similar we are to each other; which makes the whole thing less isolating."

love and light yoga lindsey larkin

Stay tuned for stories of brave individuals around us - the ones who are looking to lead the #mentalhealth conversation in Asia to impact the community - the ones who are struggling, the one who'd like to help, the ones who'd like to know more about the topic. Have something to say? Drop us a note at: [email protected].