Hi readers! I’m thrilled to give you my first BeePea Hero, Tonya Kay. I need people to look up to and give me hope. I learn so much watching how other people kick bipolar’s butt!
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I came across this YouTube video of Tonya Kay while desperately researching people who’ve healed from bipolar disorder. I felt like I found my doppelgänger.
I then went to her website and realized she’s who I want to be when I get to the other side of this illness. What attracted me to her is her absolute lust for life – if anyone is thriving, Miss Kay is for sure.
She’s an award-winning actress, award-winning writer, professional dancer, burlesque performer, danger artist, stunt woman, world-traveling conservationist and raw vegan celebrity.
And she does all of this with bipolar disorder. She’s not a slave to the disorder, yet it’s not completely gone. She’s learned how to harness it.
After all, she is a danger artist. She works with elements that can seriously harm a person if handled incorrectly, but are stunning when handled by a professional. By someone who can not only handle the dangerous object, but master it.
Maybe bipolar is just another dangerous thing she’s mastered.
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I contacted Tonya and she was able to give me a small interview now and a more in-depth one in a month or so. I’m thrilled that she took a few moments out of her busy filming schedule to answer a couple questions for me – literally in between takes.
Like I said, she’s one of my heroes for sure. I have a feeling you’re going to find her as inspiring as I do.
1. In your experience, which life changes do you feel were the most important for you to find sanity?
Of the two important moments in my journey to sustainable, unmediated mental health I can think of right now, one was external and one internal.
The external one anyone could witness from the outside – I transitioned from eating cooked vegan to RAW vegan. I maintain today that raw food does not make me healthy. Rather I AM HEALTHY as I was born, and raw food does not interfere.
Cooked, dead, factory-produced non-foods (even when they were vegan) interfered with my natural state and simply complicated an already difficult situation. When I started eating high raw vegan the stress interference from diet went away and everything got so much easier.
The second moment that mattered in my journey to mental health probably no one else even knew happened – it was completely internal. A gorgeous goddess woman working a booth at a raw vegan festival I attended early on and I started discussing health. I’m not sure why I felt comfortable with her, but I confessed to her (in public, for the first time) that I had struggled with Manic Depression and her response was so immediate and genuine, I was taken aback.
“Wow,” she said, with admiration and respect in her eyes, “You must be so creative.”
Why, yes, I thought. Yes, I am. I began a necessary journey of self-respect and redefinition where only labels and self-judgement had existed before.
2. Have you always exercised daily? How crucial has exercise been on your journey & is there a certain kind you find more beneficial for balancing moods?
From starting dance at age four to high school sports to professional stunts to current hobby sports like pole dance and kit drum, yes, I have always exercised. With the exception of healing time for major injuries, I exercise anywhere between 30 hours per week when in rehearsals to 5 hours per week when I am simply maintaining.
Currently I am in training and average 3 hours per day of some pretty intense physical play. Exercise, for me, is as vital or even more so than eating my raw vegan food. Physical play releases serotonin and literally makes a mind happier. It keeps me fit which increases my self-esteem.
I choose physical play that happens in groups in studios or at clubs, which provides a healthy community for me to interact within. And I happen to also choose physical play that challenges me so every time I walk out of the studio I have exercised my mind to learn something new and proven to myself (again and again) that I CAN.
Whatever life throws at me after a class, it seems so much easier because I am empowered and believe in myself because I committed to something and prove that I can do it everyday. Right now hot yoga, pole dance and kit drum are my biggest physical teachers. Through sweat and exhaustion, a fiery, passionate soul like mine can find peace. By getting into my body, I still my mind.
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