I have had my ups and downs in getting to my 45th birthday which is next week. The highs have been high -meeting my husband, marriage, kids and winning my golds and the lows have been really low - my depression and subsequent breakdown and my 2 miscarriages. I think the lows for me have been like a character building exercise, and I have come out of the other side much stronger than I was before. The Kelly Clarkson song I suppose sums it up “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” - and yes it is on my playlist, which is cheesy I know!! I am not saying there aren’t times when I wake up under a dark cloud, I look in the mirror and see the reminders of my depression everyday, the scars mentally and physically will never go away, but they also show the strength I have gained to be able to compete in a short sleeved top, and not worry about people seeing them. To be able to put up a video or photo on Instagram and not have worries about people commenting on them, yes I have come a long way in 15 years!
The main reasons for me being able to stay on that path of positivity most days is, firstly my family, my husband is very supportive, he met me when I was at my worst and has been there for me in good and the extremely bad times. He is my rock and a voice of reason, as well as my biggest supporter and to be honest I don’t know what I would do without him!
The other main reason is my fitness (or training), this part of my life keeps me grounded, it is the part of my life which is mostly on an even keel. There are days when I have a bad session, or I feel tired but only now am I starting to realise that with those days you should still tick them off as training, you did the session, saw it through so your body got the training effect, you don’t give up on these days no matter how much you want to, because after you finish your session your spirits will be lifted due to the fact that a) you completed it and b) you released all those endorphins which are now swimming around and making you smile!
What I am trying to say is that fitness had a hand in making me ‘sane’ again, before I had it I couldn’t see much light at the end of the tunnel. The days all moulded into one, my alcohol consumption was above average, my body confidence was terribly low - even before children and then after children it just got lower. My sleep pattern before kids was terribly up and down due mostly to the depression ( the tablets I took to try and combat it), alcohol and lack of exercise. Obviously after kids your sleep pattern is chaotic to say the least, and mine was like that for 5 years whilst popping out 3 of them in quick succession.
After deciding that after my 3rd something had to change, I started on my journey to make a better version of me! I cut back on the alcohol and exercised - running. It was the best thing I could have done, and when my knee got sore I panicked, ‘what was I going to do now?” I visited the doctors who sent me to a physio, as we all know there is always a wait for an NHS Physio and in that time I decided to try indoor rowing. This was one of the best ideas of my whole life - no exaggeration!! After buying my Concept 2 rower I have never looked back, my life has been turned around by the sport and to think how negative my life was 15 years ago!
I really just wanted to say that the first step out of your comfort zone, out of the fog that depression is, IS really hard. I know that even in the clutches of the ‘black dog’ you feel a kind of comfort and safety but to make that first move and get those spirits lifted just for 20 mins is a godsend, and will make you want to move even more. Maybe you don’t want to become an athlete or take fitness as seriously as me and that is ok too. Fitness can help you cope with most of the stresses and strains of life whether it be family or work related, if you have a spare 30 mins 3 times a week then make time to move. Once you’ve put it in your diary and enjoyed it for a couple of months you will reap the benefits of a much more positive way of thinking about life, your sleeping will be better and your confidence will be improving all these factors will help you focus on overcoming this awful, invisible mental illness which is depression. With help from your GP albeit anti-depressants or counselling and exercise you will have the support confidence and tools to start bringing some positivity into your life!
Thanks to WEROW.CO.UK for the photos.