By the time she arrived on Aussie shores in 2017, German-born model and social media strategist Angi Slonova had spent years overcoming chronic health issues. Here, she shares how rock bottom became her launch pad for a mission-led life of adventure and connectedness.
Like most women, Angi Slonova remembers the moments she had to choose:
Give up — or rise up.
“When I was seventeen I got very sick and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. They did a lot of tests, and I spent time in hospitals and at specialists, and I got false diagnoses all the time.”
Thought to have an autoimmune condition, Angi spent three years undergoing medical treatments that initially made her feel better, but then her symptoms would return and she’d feel worse. “I felt helpless. I was seventeen, eighteen, and I felt like I was stuck in the body of a 90 year old. I got depressed and had no will to live anymore, basically, because I was in severe pain and nothing helped. I was dealing with a lot of anxiety as well, and getting really bad panic attacks.”
Angi says it was her mum’s love and encouragement that eventually prompted her to claim her life back. “Mum has always been very supportive. She said, ‘No one can help you unless you really want to help yourself’.”
Deciding to take matters into her own hands, Angi switched to a plant-based diet of whole foods and began trying alternative healing methods. “Yoga and meditation were especially helpful in gaining trust back in my body and realising that it can solve a lot of problems itself. [These days] I’m doing much, much better, but it’s been a long journey and, 10 years later, I’m still on it.”
Angi’s most recent diagnosis, which she believes is the correct one, is Lyme’s disease, an illness spread by tick bites. It can be hard to diagnose, she says, because there are so many different symptoms — and hers are nearly always triggered by stress.
A self-described free spirit who is most content travelling the world (“everything I own fits in my suitcase!”), Angi had moved to Australia and was living on the Gold Coast in 2018 when the stress of two heartbreaking losses caused her health to decline. “My grandpa passed away, and then only a month or so later my aunt passed away. I was really close with both of them, so it was a really tough time for me. All of my symptoms returned, and I got some new ones, too. I was very, very weak — there were times when I could barely walk 500 meters without passing out.”
With her family thousands of miles away in Germany, Angi sometimes felt lonely and misunderstood. “Chronic issues are not always very visible,” she explains. “Some people would say, ‘You look fine!’, ‘You look amazing!’, ‘You’re not sick!’. They didn’t really get it.”
“I was lucky to have lovely friends around to help take care of me. For me, it’s the little things [that mean the most]. Just receiving a hug, or being able to talk openly to someone and have them tell you everything is going to be okay can make a huge difference.”
To keep positive while she recovered, Angi continued to practice meditation. One of her favourites is Ho’oponopono, a Hawaiian forgiveness ritual. “It’s very beautiful,” Angi says. “You clear out a lot of stuck emotions and energy by forgiving yourself and forgiving others.”
She also tried to think in solutions, not problems. “I was journaling a lot, getting my thoughts out so they didn’t consume me. I would write down, Okay, what is the worst-case scenario that could happen right now? And then I would list all the solutions available to me in that moment.”
When asked what advice she would give to other women experiencing similar challenges, Angi emphasises the importance of opening up to people you trust and not trying to solve everything by yourself. “And keep yourself busy,” she adds. “Have hobbies, be creative, try not to fall into the victim mindset. There is so much great information out there — I’ve found so many great books [Angi recommends Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to lose your mind and create a new one, by Dr Joe Dispenza), YouTube clips and documentaries that help me to stay motivated and realise the power of my thoughts.”
Angi is now a yoga teacher and Reiki master, and — with an Insta community of 116,000 followers — she’s made it her mission to provide people space to be vulnerable. “I’m very transparent. I’m very honest with myself and with others. I try to speak my truth. I think people notice it and it makes them more comfortable to do the same.”
The affirmation Angi would choose for her Powerpants? Everything is possible. “This affirmation reminds me to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I always try to look beyond limits — we are so much more capable than we think.”
Everything is possible.
Tammy Warner-Wilson is a freelance writer, certified coach and Kundalini Yoga & Meditation instructor. After 15 years living in London, Sydney, Washington DC & New York, she now lives in Brisbane with her ten-year-old daughter. Stories are her lifeblood.
Find her on Insta: @tamwarnerwilson