NOT long ago, Kirsty Dee didn’t think happiness existed.

Now, she has overcome depression and traumatic issues in her childhood to dedicate her life to helping others and has organised her first event to help empower other women.

The Dorchester-based blogger said: “I believed for a really long time that happiness wasn’t real, that it was just something people wrote about. But absolutely, you can be happy.”

Kirsty, 33, encountered trauma at a young age. After hospitalising herself for depression years later, her doctor, she says, refused to listen when she shared her experiences.

Now Kirsty is sharing her experiences to encourage others to share theirs, and to actively seek fulfilment in their lives. Her movement, ‘Choose to Rise’, is guiding other women towards self-love, which simply involves respect for your own wellbeing and happiness.

Kirsty’s journey into wellness, a holistic approach to health that includes both mental and physical vitality, actually began in fitness. Struggling with post-natal depression after the birth of her daughter, now 10, Kirsty began an exercise group for other women who didn’t feel confident enough to go to the gym.

“I really loved the fitness side of things and I built a good community out of it,” she says.“But what I realised is that you can get into really good shape, and still not love yourself. That’s what made me get into wellness.”

Kirsty began writing a blog about her experiences, which gradually grew in popularity and now has followers from all over the world. She soon recognised how powerful sharing her own experiences can be. One of her most-read blog posts is a letter to her 13-year-old self, where she talks of the issues she suffered at a young age.

“I got so many emails from people who thought they were the only one,” Kirsty says. “I knew it was more common than people realised, but readers from all over the world responded.”

The feeling she gets from helping people is what inspires Kirsty to carry on: “I feel like I’m living all my dreams right now,” she says.

What ultimately pushed Kirsty into developing these dreams into something bigger, however, was becoming a mother.

“My daughter was the thing that changed everything for me,” she says. “I didn’t want her to feel the way I did.”

Yet motherhood wasn’t easy for Kirsty, who also has a son with her husband, Tony. She admits she struggled massively and was in denial about her post-natal depression.

“I had a history of mental health difficulties and I had this fear that they would take my daughter away from me,” she says.

Kirsty believes many women are stuck in a cycle of saying they’re fine, when in reality they are suffering from feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth. When Kirsty eventually realised something had to change, she decided to embark on a journey to self-love.

“I did the counselling thing, I had psychiatric help, but what they don’t teach you is how to like yourself,” Kirsty says. “The catalyst for change was working on myself and that’s what I teach people now.”

The concept of self-love, Kirsty admits, can sound corny and cliché, with society having led us to believe it’s about vanity and selfishness. In reality, this is far from the truth.

“If I take care of myself, I can take care of everyone else better,” Kirsty says.

With a diploma in holistic therapies, Kirsty offers a range of products and services, including one-to-one courses, wellness boxes and an audio series.

“I used to really worry about saying the right thing,” she confesses. “What I’ve realised is that most of us just need someone to be there, to say this is okay and that how you feel is valid.”

The wellness event is the first of its kind, but Kirsty has high hopes: “I want people to go away and feel empowered,” she says.

The event will include a workshop in how to practice self-love, sessions in mindfulness, a Q&A with Kirsty herself and a closing ceremony to leave attendees feeling confident that they can change their lives for the better.

And what’ll be next for the wellness warrior?

“I’m currently writing a book about being who you truly want to be,” Kirsty revealed. “It’s about stepping into your power and being unstoppable.”

n Kirsty’s blog can be found at Her wellness event is being held on Saturday, May 11 from 10am to 4pm at Frampton Village Hall, Frampton, near Dorchester. Tickets can be purchased online for £30 each.

A LETTER Kirsty as an adult wrote to herself as a teenager on her 13th birthday

“Over time you slowly start to change. You stop being that girl full of pain. You’ll look for positives in the darkness. You’ll use it to help others. It will make you so aware when bringing up your own children.

“Most children don’t tell anyone....and in your case, it was because you didn’t really realise (what had happened to you). You didn’t think there was anything to tell, you didn’t want to be laughed at or not taken seriously. You were so incredibly young. You didn’t want to not be normal or to look silly and you definitely didn’t want to get in trouble.

“As time passes you see things and you notice things perhaps others wouldn’t. You grow stronger and more beautiful from everything that’s happened in your childhood. Whilst you never forget, you still get to be happy in the end. That’s how strong you become.”

*The Echo has edited this letter.