My Story

Hi there!  I’m Tanya Vliss. 

Welcome to my website ‘Matters Of My Mind’.  It’s lovely to have you here.

The purpose of my website is to provide information, guidance and support for anyone who is having a difficult time in their lives and looking for solutions.

I created Matters Of My Mind so that I could share my personal experiences with mental health issues, my personal development and my spiritual awakening.

I am hoping that my experiences will be able to help you too and that you will feel comfortable enough here, to share your experiences with others. Then together we can create a caring community who can support, guide and share information with each other.

Please get to know me by reading on.

My Work Experience

I am in my mid-fifties and for the last twenty years of my employment I have been in teaching, coaching, training and support roles.  I have been a full-time primary school teacher for the last ten years and particularly enjoy teaching Year 2 children.  I love interacting with six year olds because they’re so lively and say a lot of funny things that
make me laugh.

Prior to this I worked for three years as a LifeWorks Coach.  The LifeWorks program was designed to give adults a second chance at secondary level education as well as learning valuable life skills.  Some of these life skills were financial management, communication skills, motivational and organizational skills, goal setting and parenting skills.  For many of our students, school was not a happy or successful experience and the majority lacked confidence as well as qualifications.  It was very rewarding coaching my students on their journeys and watching their growing confidence, self-esteem and general enjoyment of life.

I have also taught computer and office skills to teenagers and worked as a Case Manager for a government social welfare department.  I enjoyed all of these roles because I love teaching and supporting people of all ages.  I know how hard life can be and I’m full of admiration, encouragement and support for anyone who wants to make a better life for themselves.

My Family 

I have been married to Ivan for 26 years and have two children in their twenties.  Chelsea is 24 years old and my son Dallas is 21.  Chelsea’s partner Hamish lives with us too.  We all live together in the Kapiti Coast which is approximately a 45 minute drive from Wellington.  We also have three cats, Rufus, Basil and Cookie. 

My Story


Life is good now but it certainly wasn’t like this for many years.  Three out of four of us (myself included) have experienced depression and anxiety at varying levels.  Depression in particular is common these days and because of this there is great awareness and acceptance. But twenty years ago it was a different story – well, in New Zealand anyway.  Ignorance and prejudice was rife and that included doctors, friends and family members.

My husband was very unwell for nearly three years and I went through hell trying to get help.  The stress was incredible which was made worse by the uncaring behavior and unkind words of those we turn to in times of crisis.

Tough Times

It all began when I was expecting my second child.  My husband became an extremely sick man – physically at first with abnormal blood test results that were sky high.  As time went by his mental health deteriorated to a frightening degree.  He became paranoid and started thinking I was poisoning him, so he stopped eating.  This resulted in him losing masses of weight and becoming sicker.

But the sad and concerning part was the lack of compassion and caring from the doctors I took him to.  No one could explain the abnormal blood tests.  And as his mental health deteriorated they had less and less patience and empathy for him.  Then it all came to a head one day when our local doctor decided to give him a steroid injection which blew his mind.  He became psychotic and had to be incarcerated in a Mental Health Hospital.

And It Gets Worse

As if things weren’t bad enough already, I had to stand up to Psychiatrists in that hospital who wouldn’t speak to my husband with respect.  They spoke to him as if he were a naughty child and on other occasions ignored him altogether.

The weeks went by and all they did was observe him and talk about him.  It was only when they said that they couldn’t help him and were going to release him to a halfway house that I lost my temper and told them they needed to try him on medication, which they did.  And he instantly began to recover very quickly.  Staff and other patients couldn’t believe his transformation.  I was so relieved and happy, so we went home.

Unfortunately within a very short time Ivan started to become unwell again.  I remember the day he told me he was getting sick again.  I just broke down and cried and cried.  But after that it became clear what the cause of his illness was.

We had only lived in our house in Wellington for a couple of years and this house was located by power pylons.  Ivan kept saying during his illness that he was concerned that it was the pylons that were making him sick. But any mention of this to doctors was fobbed off. However we now knew it was true.  When he was away from our house he had recovered.  The moment he came back he began to get sick again so I knew I had to get him out of this house as soon as possible.  But there were a few problems.  I was due to have my baby very soon and we had nowhere to go.

Apart from support over the phone from Ivan’s elderly aunt and the kind words of a counselor, I had to cope with all of this on my own.  Chelsea was only three years old at the time and I could tell that she was feeling the stress too.

Help From Unexpected Sources 

I remember one evening when in great despair I closed my eyes and called out to my mother for help.  My dear mum had passed away many years ago and my life would have been so different if she were still with me.

Then one night when I was sitting in front of the TV an infomercial came on.  It was 1996 and Tony Robbins was promoting his Personal Power Program in New Zealand.  I knew that it was just what I needed to help me get over the hurdles ahead.

What I learnt from Tony’s program not only helped me to think up creative, miraculous solutions to those problems back in the 1990s but it also sparked a deep personal awakening in the years to come.

A New Beginning

I had my baby and got my family out of that house.  We ended up selling it a year later and moving out of Wellington to Paraparaumu Beach where we still live today.  There was an instant feeling of relief when we moved into our lovely home a week before Christmas.  We were happy to be away from Wellington and all the bad memories and our house was perfect for us.  It was a sunny, healthy home with a huge backyard for the children – unlike the awful house we had rented for the past year. We were out of the crisis period but the following tens years were still very difficult.

The Following 10 Years

I often wonder if my stressful pregnancy played a part in my son’s health issues.  For the first five years of his life Dallas was a perfectly happy and healthy boy but from the time he started primary school we began to have one problem after the other. 

In the first year he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder then he developed phobias.  He had great difficulty concentrating and retaining information and the gap between Dallas and his classmates began to widen.  As he continued to struggle with learning, his relationship with some of his teachers became strained.  He was viewed as lazy. “Needs to try harder”.  Then by the time he was nine years old he was being bullied by children and teachers.  He was seen as a trouble maker.

Dallas hated school and would often lock himself in the bathroom and refuse to come out.  When he did go to school he would constantly ask to go to the medical room.  Around this time we discovered that Dallas had developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder.  I desperately wanted him to change schools but change was more frightening for Dallas than what he was currently going through.  

I took Dallas to be assessed by an Educational Psychologist with the hope of getting answers.  Everything we knew was confirmed.  Dallas had many learning difficulties in many areas but not enough ticks in the right boxes to get a clear diagnosis such as Dyslexia or Autism.  But the evidence of his difficulties was clear nonetheless.  But even though I took all this information to his teachers there continued to be no change of attitude or empathy towards him by his current teacher or the Team Leader. 

Finally – Happy Days

Over the years we had encountered two wonderful teachers and a teaching assistant who were very kind to Dallas but unfortunately they were the minority.  I explained all this to the Psychologist which was a great move because she knew of a small school which had been created by a group of parents.  These families either disliked the state school system or had children like Dallas with learning difficulties who they felt wouldn’t fit in and get their needs met.  So they hired a wonderful teacher and a school house which had just recently closed down.  Well to cut a long story short, Dallas joined this school and for two years he had a happy school experience.

Secondary School

Chelsea and Dallas

Unfortunately families moved town and the school had to close down.  Dallas was now 14 years old and needed to go to our local high school.  His anxiety became a major issue and even though he had the most wonderful, supportive teacher who was also the head of the department (and could pull strings) and an awesome Learning Center for children just like Dallas who could chill out with caring staff, the damage was already done. 

Dallas tried different medications and I also took him to a lovely Hypnotherapist which helped for short bursts of time. 

However Dallas spent the next two years wagging school (playing hooky).  Six weeks before his sixteenth birthday the school granted Dallas permission to leave.  

The Next Four Years

Dallas was relieved to finally be free from schools and teachers.  We let him chill out for the next year.  He spent most of his time in his bedroom watching TV or gaming and for a while he kept in contact with a couple of friends he’d made at high school. 

But then Ivan and I began to get concerned about his behavior.  He became very angry and aggressive and his spirits were very low.  We recognized that our son had now developed Depression.

The Need For a Supportive Community

My experiences of the mental health system in New Zealand has been extremely distressing.  Families who have loved ones experiencing mental health problems have enough worry and stress in their lives to deal with.  But then you have to deal with a health system that is lacking in so many ways.  I won’t go into those issues here but it simply highlights the need to have a supportive community who can help each other with information, caring and understanding.

Dallas then developed social anxiety and agoraphobia and wouldn’t leave the house.  He was angry and aggression and his spirits were at an all time low.  There was no way he could get or retain a job and lead a normal life. 

So I began searching for solutions for Dallas online.  I remembered Tony Robbins saying “If you want good solutions then ask good questions”.  So I began asking out loud “How can I help Dallas to overcome his anxiety and lead a normal life”?

I’m happy to say I discovered EFT aka Emotional Freedom Technique which you can read about here.  It has dramatically changed Dallas’s life.   The worst of his anxiety has gone.  And now in 2020, at the age of 24, he finally has a full-time job which he loves.  He’s out and about in the community and finally beginning to enjoy a normal life.

We Really Do Have Our Own Personal Power

I am very grateful for Tony Robbin’s Personal Power Program.  I learnt so much and it has created a strong foundation of self-awareness, self-confidence and personal power that I have been building on for many years.

Looking back I have come to realize how incredibly powerful our minds are and yet how little we have learnt about them.  In many ways my struggles have been a blessing in disguise.  I’ve needed to dig really deep and find creative solutions to solve some very difficult problems and in so doing, I have learnt about the incredible ability I have – that we all have.  Part of that ability is understanding our brain and the power of our unconscious mind.  But there’s another even more powerful part.

My Spiritual Awakening 

My life up to this point had been hard slog, full of stress and drama and I was tired of it.  If it wasn’t health problems, then it was employment problems or financial problems.  I wanted some ‘me’ time.  I wanted to work less and have more fun.  The demands on teachers were ever increasing, but the pay wasn’t.  I couldn’t see myself enjoying teaching full-time until I was 65 but I had a mortgage to pay and limited retirement savings.  Surely after all of these years of stress and struggle I could have an easier and more enjoyable life.  Maybe go away for a holiday or fix up our run down house?

I began questioning the purpose of life.  I remember asking “Why would anyone create something so magnificent as a human being and then expect them to have a crap life?  It didn’t make sense to me.  If you had created something so wonderful surely you would only want positive experiences for it.

And this made me very curious.  I began thinking over the obstacles I had been faced with and the amazing way I overcame all of them.  Then I thought “If I can move mountains because I had to, then surely I can move mountains because I want to”.

I remembered again what Tony Robbins had said in his Personal Power tapes: “Ask good questions and you will get good answers”?  So I asked out aloud “What can I do to retire early from teaching”?

It was on 26 October 2016 at my school’s Halloween Gala that a new phase of my life was to begin.  As I did every year, I went to the book stall.  I walked straight up to the counter and there was one book presented right in front of me.  It was called ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne.  I had heard of this book but didn’t know what it was about.  But there was a strong intuitive feeling that this book was for me.  So I bought it for $1.00 and it has been the best dollar I have ever spent.  

The Happiest Time Of My Life

Since reading The Secret and many more books like it, my life has changed in numerous ways.  I finally feel in control of my life.  I know I can create a life I love.  I am making decisions for my future and the Universe is influencing people, circumstances and events to make it happen. 

In 2017 we completely renovated our house and it looks awesome.  I have finally found inner peace and happiness.  I am teaching part-time this year so I can have a bit of ‘me’ time and spend time at home building my business ‘Matters Of My Mind’.  My goal is to replace my teaching income and with the support and training I am receiving from Wealthy Affiliate. I believe it is an achievable goal.  And then in June 2021 my family plan to begin our overseas travel.   

I am on this amazing journey and planning a life I love.  There is a lot of learning ahead but it is exciting and I feel so empowered and in control.  I would love to help you to overcome obstacles too and create a life you love so visit often and check out the latest posts.  You can read my very first post about Total Wellness by clicking this link.

All the best.  


“If I could move mountains because I had to, then surely I can move mountains because I want to”.