Jackie Dunn is the founder of the activewear online retailer Fire and Shine, a site where you can find local Australian and hard-to-find international gym gear, and athleisure brands that are manufactured with a conscience. It’s a dream that Jackie has chased down and worked hard to realise. A dream that’s all the sweeter because, like so many of us, Jac suffers from depression.
Here, she guest-blogs for Training for Chocolate, to share how her yoga training and professional help allowed her to use her passion and drive to create a whole new life and conquer big goals whilst dealing with her demons.
I’ve often wondered how I would write down my journey with depression. As it turns out, the moment I started typing the first sentence, tears come to my eyes.
If I learnt anything about this journey, it’s to let the tears flow, and release whatever it is that’s sitting, or bubbling underneath the surface. Tears aren’t always about sadness, they can be a release, a realisation sometimes of how far I’ve come, and how close I came to eternal darkness.
Mental health is something I’m so passionate about and I think almost everyone in my life has been touched by this illness in some way. It’s so great to see mental health now being spoken about more openly in public as it is such a dark and lonely place.
To live with depression is a rollercoaster. Not just for yourself, but also everyone around you. I lived with depression for many, many years not ever knowing what it really was that was having me search, seek, push myself to seek perfection and as they say ‘fake it until I made it’ .
It all came to a head three years ago when I was at a cross roads in my life.
My corporate job and life had come to an end and even though intellectually I knew that my job did not define me, emotionally it was a different story. What was I if I wasn’t going to work everyday in my designer suit, heels and impeccable make up. Going to my yoga class in Surry Hills and eating at all the top restaurants in Sydney.
After a lot of tears and more searching, it hit me that I was going to need to deal with my demons that had been sitting in the back seat of the bus and weren’t going anywhere soon.
After completing my MBA and achieving an above average GPA I was feeling pretty good about myself but somewhere, there was still darkness. A voice saying I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t worthy, expectations, judgment, shame, the list goes on. After a few months, I started my yoga teacher training and it was this experience that was a turning point for me.
The twelve months of yoga teacher training took me on a journey that was unknown, required courage, was going to get me at the forefront of facing my fears and most importantly, that it was ok to love myself and practice self-love.
From the yoga teacher training, I could feel almost a wave of new emotions and thoughts rising to the surface. These were different from the ones I realised I’d had most of my life. This was deep stuff, things that I’d completely blocked out and was honestly scared of.
I needed a bit more help than just my practice and being on my mat. Even though my practice was safe, gave me permission to be present and acknowledge what was going on for me, there were times when for days, I would be crying for no apparent reason and found it difficult to function in society.
At the time, I had people in my life who were supportive of what was going on for me. I’m so thankful and grateful that I was encouraged to take the terrifying step – at the time – to see a psychiatrist. I have been blessed with many wonderful teachers in my mental health journey that includes friends, yoga teachers, meditation teachers, therapists, Doctors and my family.
The author Brene Brown has been incredibly influential in my journey and I will always be grateful for a very good friend for introducing me to Brene’s work on The Power of Vulnerability. Even reading stories of complete strangers is heart warming and on some level supportive.
My passion and drive to start Fire and Shine was to make a difference. Seek out something different, stand for something that was important. I’d figured out through my journey that it was ok to be who I was, and that I was a smart and intelligent woman with some very good skills.
On top of this, I was learning to be vulnerable and have compassion for myself and others. I’ve always worked in retail and loved fashion. Those who are close to me know that I would often say that happiness was found with an online order arriving and being on the front step when you got home. Now I love knowing that I am giving this same joy to all those who order online from Fire and Shine.
When I started looking into activewear and brands in the market, it occurred to me that I had no idea where my activewear was being made. At this point, I didn’t want to continue wearing the household brands anymore and wanted to make sure that where I was buying my own activewear, didn’t come out of a sweat-shop. From here, Fire and Shine was born.
I searched the world to find brands – that had no Australian distribution – to stock on the online store. The store started with 4 brands and now has 13 international and local brands.
We were one of the first online stockists of L’urv Sportswear and Vie Active and so proud to be supporting these amazing activewear brands. Our international brands are also ethically manufactured, made using the finest fabrics and have state-of-the-art design and durability.
Fire and Shine is my passion and is allowing me to Realise My Potential. The online store has helped me turn my fears into courage. By taking the step to let go of who I thought I was supposed to be and embrace who I am, this allowed space to accept all my imperfections and find myself living a more wholehearted life.
What I thought was going to define me and be my life – working in corporate – wasn’t my journey at all. Instead, I’ve now got a business that focusses on wholistic living and it’s a space where there is no judgement, is safe and reminds me that not matter what the day brings, I am grateful for it all.
Thank you, Jac, really appreciate your honesty and willingness to share. Love what you do.
If you’re suffering with a mental health issue and not sure where to turn, make sure you seek some help. It’s too overwhelming to deal with alone. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and let it all out. A good place to start is The Black Dog Institute.