I am a personal trainer who has a passion for motivating, supporting and guiding people through their health and fitness journey and have been doing so for 5 years. I believe this is the reason I put off admitting to myself that I had anxiety and depression and suffered from panic attacks as I am always perceived as ‘the strong one’. I do also believe my role is partly why I do suffer from mental health problems as part of my job is always to motivate and push people when motivating myself is the hardest part of my day. Over the course of 18 months I lost 3 very important and close people to me, 3 people who had such an impact on my life in the most positive way possible and one day they were taken away from me. I never dealt with what happened at the time and left it to stew in my head, again being the strong one and making sure everyone else was okay first because I felt like their feelings were more important than mine. This lead, to deep depression to the point where I had to be held down by parents after telling them I no longer wanted to be here. The anxiety started from a young age but I always brushed it off as nerves, however, the older I got the worse it got, whether its meeting new people, going to a social event, even playing for a football team, being in a large group would be hell for me.
Because I never dealt with the way I was feeling at the time of these events, my mental health spiralled from just being upset and grieving to severely depressed, I wasn’t eating, barely drinking which then made me tired, which prevented me from training at the gym, this lead to the anxiety creeping in as with my job I am supposed to be a role model yet I wasn’t even training myself. My weight was dropping, losing muscle, which is a huge fear for me personally let alone it being expected of me to be or to look a certain way. I didn’t want to leave the house, I was re-arranging sessions, crying because I had to go to work and people would see me. I had always kept my circle small with friends and family, but I feel like I prevented anyone wanting to be around me and I certainly stopped myself making any new friends. My relationship broke down however this was also one of the many reasons I felt the way I did, looking back now I would say that was a blessing in disguise. The worst feeling, I had was seeing the impact it had on my parents, I could see how much it was hurting them both, but I couldn’t get myself out of this hole. I’d be told “its part of life” or “you’ve just got to get on with it” and I’m thinking to get on with it…I don’t want to be here.
The road to recovery… I was always scared of telling anyone especially those close to me because I knew it would not only come as a shock, but I knew the impact it would have on them all. It had taken me nearly 2 years to say how I had felt, and, in that time, there was more going on around me making me worse, adding to my stress and continuing the domino effect on my mental health. I remember my lowest night but also the night that changed my life. I had just been to watch a football match with my best friend who is like a brother to me, on the drive home I was driving down a long road which at the end began to bend around and I remember thinking do I really want to turn this corner, I started to put my foot to the floor and at the last second I turned my steering wheel, I don’t remember much else of the drive home. The next thing I remember is being in my living room shouting at my mum to get my dad, that’s the night I told them I didn’t want to be alive anymore, that I had had enough, my dad just held me as I’ve never felt him hug me before. That night I had the best nights sleep in years! From that point, it took me 4 months to recover and that was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. If it wasn’t for my parents, my best friend and my sister I wouldn’t be here today, I quite literally owe them my life. Of course, I still have down days but I now know how to deal with them much better and show my mental health that I am stronger and better than it is.
My advice to not only employers but to anyone who has someone close to them or working with/for them is to not use certain sentences when it comes to talking about mental health. Them being, “you will be okay” “You just have to get on with your life”. If anyone can relate to my story and the things I went through and how I felt then the first and most important thing you can do is tell someone and understand it’s okay not to be okay, you don’t have to feel a certain way, you are feeling the way you are for a reason. Talk to someone you are close to, who you can trust. It has taken a lot of energy and guts to relive my story and I hope that it helps someone one day.
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