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You might think you know Carla Zuill but if you bother to dig, there are several layers to her.

The 42-year-old journalist has organised an event aimed at empowering females that takes place tomorrow at CedarBridge Academy.

No small task for a single mother-of-three who runs her own business and, only recently, battled with depression.

“I always wanted to be a public speaker and host events for different segments of the community,” said Ms Zuill, the founder of online news site Today in Bermuda. “I decided to start with women. I wanted it to be about their emotional and mental wellbeing. A lot of women are dealing with a tremendous amount of stress-related issues: they're raising children on their own, they have financial problems and so on. It took me some time, but I reflected on my own life and how I've evolved.

“I took anger-management classes at the Centre Against Abuse in 2010. I was in a failed relationship and making life decisions I was not pleased with and I couldn't figure out how to escape them. Being unhappy in a bad situation made me a bitter person as well. One day I broke down and started lashing out in an unhealthy way. I went to the Centre Against Abuse and spoke with Darius Richardson and said I needed help.”

After 12 weeks of counselling with Rosana Vickers she was in a better place personally, but still had work to do.

“My anger stemmed from being in an unhealthy relationship. Instead of letting go I stayed, because I wanted to hold my family together. I learnt that you can't stay and not let go. You either stay and forgive, or move on.

“In 2014 I had an epiphany. I woke up and [thought about how] some people didn't wake up today, so I should enjoy life.”

Ms Zuill became certified as a life coach for women and teens, often providing her services for free.

“I didn't want to turn anyone away,” she said. “It strengthened me because I realised there were people worse off than me, but I started to notice I wasn't taking care of myself.”

Clean clothes would sit in laundry bags for days, waiting to be packed away. Perhaps even more noticeable was that she was frequently in tears, where before she had rarely cried.

“It was chaos,” she said. “I would hide it from the children because I was [the main caregiver] and I didn't want them to see me weak. But I was working with Mirrors as a consultant and had a grief session and it allowed me to see I was overwhelmed.”

It was another counsellor who gave what she was experiencing a label: depression. In September, her doctor confirmed that diagnosis and recommended medication.

“I said, ‘Me? No way'. I didn't feel depressed. I had a view of what depression looked like and I said, ‘That's not who I am'.”

Despite her reservations, she took the drugs. Although now off them, she's happy she followed the doctor's advice.

“What I've learnt is so many people who are depressed, or on medication, feel ashamed,” she said. “But nothing is wrong with taking medicine and acknowledging that. I'm now off the medication and been running my business full-time and doing full-time consultancy since May and planning the summit and looking after my children.

“I'm at peace and speaking the truth. There's no negativity or resentment. I've forgiven the past and forgiven myself. I blamed a lot of what happened on myself but I want to be the best mom to my children and I'm finally at a place where I'm happy and content with who I am.”

•Counsellors Rosana Vickers, Patrice Frith Hayward and Laurie Shiell will also speak at Black Book Promotions' Women's Empowerment Summit. The event runs from 10am-3pm. Tickets, $60, include lunch and can be purchased at the door, 27th Century Boutique and on 704-1705. Funds raised will go towards the Centre Against Abuse, Mobility for Ralph and Gina Spence's Champions programme.

Carla Zuill (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Inspiring others: 42-year-old journalist Carla Zuill has organised an event aimed at empowering females that takes place tomorrow at CedarBridge Academy

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Published November 25, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated November 25, 2016 at 7:13 am)

From darkness to light

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