Thyroid cancer at 5. Learning disabilities. Ensuing years of affected growth, weight fluctuations, body image struggles, and relentless bullying/harassment since childhood to now.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Borderline personality disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety. It’d be a lot for anyone to deal with. Toss in being an Eelam Tamil kid born & raised in Toronto Canada and you have Denoja Uthayakumar’s childhood in a nutshell.
Fast forward and you have: Changemaker, marathoner, cancer survivor, 4am yoga-er, Instagram influencer, Brooks Canada Run Happy Team ambassador, Nuun hydration ambassador, Runners of the Six Community Outreach, and mental health warrior.
Despite all odds, Denoja turned all her challenges into positives. But it wasn’t easy - battling severe health crises at a tender age can wreak havoc on one's psyche, and years of struggling took their toll.
“At a very low point, my friend noticed I needed help and recommended that I call CAMH.” (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)
“From that moment I began discovering resources, support groups, therapists, psychiatrists - and what areas I needed help with. It was life changing.”
Finding herself healing and processing traumas, her thoughts went to others who might also be struggling, and she dedicated herself to supporting CAMH.
“You’d be surprised how many people they (CAMH) help, especially during COVID.”
Her mission now, besides tending to her own mental health (which includes daily 4am yoga/workouts & early morning runs) is fueled by memories of struggling in isolation before she found CAMH.
“It’s OK not to be OK. If you see me on Instagram or in person with the brightest smile, it doesn’t mean everything is perfect. People can be suffering through a lot and not show it.”
I’m still processing what I’ve been through as I'm still fighting battles, and trying to share my story/journey as best I can on social media and offline. Certain things I don’t post or share because it can be can be a trigger for people.”
Denoja’s key message? “If you need help or support, it’s there for you, never feel that you are alone because even if it takes time for you to open up or get the support you need, it’s there when you're ready for it."
Raising awareness and funds for CAMH is her way of giving back, and she’s determined to help as many people as she can; detractors and online bullies be darned. A quick scroll through her Instagram profile reveals a curated feed promoting patience, positivity, encouragement, consistency, determination, thoughtfulness, and perseverance.
“Bullies don’t know how their comments affect someone's mental health, and I try to be patient and not let it get to me because I use my journey to continue helping others who are going through similar battles. ‘Haters are my motivators!’ is a mantra I use to keep me going on this pathway in life. If I can help even one person, then I feel like I’m making a difference and I will continue to be an advocate for mental health as it is part of my own story/legacy.
The only way we grow is by helping one another.”
If you'd like to help support Denoja in her efforts, just enter "denoja" in the discount code box at checkout and we will donate 5% of your purchase price to CAMH on your behalf.
Learn more about our Changemaker program here.
This is in addition to the 1% of total sales Endurance Tap is committed to donating to 1% for the Planet.