She didn't give in to depression and came out on top


Lee, who has overcome depression, wants to share her life experiences with others. Photo: Nicole Lee

When a major tragedy occurs, it inevitably proves to be a life-changing event.

For Nicole Lee, her once “perfect” world crumbled 11 years ago due to a miscarriage.

“I was seven months pregnant and I lost my son, and my whole world fell apart,” recalled Lee, who, incidentally, celebrates her 44th birthday today.

The formerly-bubbly Lee found herself sinking into depression.

“I couldn’t sleep, and everything just spiralled. I found myself lethargic and easily fatigued. I became more anxious and agitated.

“My mind was going crazy, and I was questioning my existence in life. At my lowest point, I even thought of taking my own life,” mused Penang-born Lee. “I went back to work, but I was like a walking zombie. For a year, I couldn’t eat or sleep.”

What ultimately snapped Lee out of her zombie-like state was an encounter with her mother.

“I could see so much worry in her eyes, that she knew something was not right with me. I told myself that I could not allow this to happen to me, as I didn’t want to disappoint my mum.”

According to Lee, doctors prescribed her anti-depression pills, but she rejected them. “I always knew since young that I had strong will power, and I conditioned myself to beat the odds.”

Thus, began Lee’s journey on a path of self-discovery and wellness.

“It took me a month to regain proper sleep. I tried every single thing, from listening to soothing music, to lavender oils and drinking warm milk. I also discovered yoga.

“Most important was meditating, relaxing and letting go. One takes the lessons you’re meant to learn, and move on. Today, I am truly content with my life. And I used natural ways to overcome depression, not with pills.”

Portrait shot of Nicole Lee, doing yoga poses by the swimming pool. Photo: The Star/Art Chen

Presently, Lee has a hectic work schedule; she is the communications, digital and media director (Professional Products Division) at L’Oreal Malaysia.

“I have six brands under my portfolio. We organise product launches and I constantly work with media, key influencers, celebrities and socialites.”

For big events like L’Oreal Colour Trophy, said Lee, everything has to go perfectly on that day. “We always have to do better than the previous year.”

Lee doesn’t deny that her profession allows for certain perks and glamorous moments, including brushing shoulders with famous personalities.

“I never thought I’d be able to meet personalities such as Datuk Jimmy Choo and L’Oreal ambassadors Kristen Dunst and Yoon Eun Hye,” enthused Lee. “But behind the scenes, we do a lot of work that people don’t see.”

On a daily basis, Lee has to work with hairstylists from various salons. “Nowadays, I also have to deal with millennials. So, one needs to adapt and be flexible, to be able to talk with them. Being in a company which is a hair and beauty authority, we need to be connected to all these people.”

To cope with her demanding job, Lee does meditation to calm the mind. “Exercising also helps. When you exercise, your body will release endorphins.”

Eating right is also important. “I’ve gone into ‘juicing’. I use fruit juices and Chinese herbal medicine to combat any ailment. I am very interested in natural methods, such as ayurvedic and oil pulling,” explained Lee.

“I always remind myself, God has blessed me with so many good things in life. Everyday, I write five things that I am grateful about in my gratitude journal ... it’s a bedtime ritual. The more I write, the more I find there’s so much to look forward to in life.

“When I was younger, I was too busy chasing materialism,” said Lee, who was previously with Singapore Airlines for four years.

“As a flight attendant, I got to travel a lot, but I didn’t appreciate it. I felt entitled and was very attached to material things. I have learnt to let go of all of that.”

Like everyone else, Lee naturally has her bad days. “But as I go on this journey, I’ve become more easy-going. I don’t sweat the small stuff in life anymore.”

Lee revealed: “Presently, someone very close to me is battling cancer. So, you learn about letting go, and that there are people who have it worse than you.”

Sharing new life experiences

Having overcome depression, Lee now wants to share her life experiences with others.

“I conduct workshops for women; if I can touch even one life, it’s worth it. I teach women how to manage day-to-day life and simple breathing techniques and yoga poses,” said Lee, who regularly updates her activities on Instagram (@bcomingnicole).

Her long term goal? To make a pilgrimage to an ashram in Bangalore, India.

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