When I hit rock bottom, sport and exercise was a form of therapy for me. For most of my life, I haven’t felt included. Sport and exercise helped me to feel part of a team; part of a community.
If you know me, you’ll know I talk a lot about building communities and embracing diversity. Sport wasn’t just a form of therapy, it was a way for me to express who I am.
Growing up, sport and exercise was all I knew. I was in numerous clubs at school, which followed on into college, and when I left college, I was still part of a few clubs in my area. I was also in talks to go to America on an Athletics scholarship.
Sport and exercise has been a massive influence on my life. Especially, when I was going through my suicidal patch. A lot happened when I was a teenager, and the main part of my troubles included the loss of my Nan, my Mum’s cancer battle, and my Sister’s stroke.
No person should have to go through this, especially a young person. Outside of my family loss and illnesses, I was severely bullied. The bullying got to such a severe point, I was running away from home, skipping school, and excluding myself from my social circle.
The dark thoughts took over my mind.
People thought I was OK. People thought my smile indicated I was enjoying life. A lot happens behind a smile. A lot happens behind the scenes. I was a closed off person at this stage of my life. Even my family didn’t even know.
When I gave a talk in 2016, I told myself it was time. I was ready to share why I felt so low. I shared how my best friend Flash was my saviour. Small actions can make a massive difference, and having someone who couldn’t speak, meant I could express my feelings without getting judged.
I’m the complete opposite these days. Thanks to sport and exercise, I’m now confident enough to share my mental health story with anyone I meet, and to share my thoughts on why we need to do more listening than talking.
It was because I had someone listen to me, I felt confident enough to open up.
This is why next Wednesday’s (April 25th) fundraiser means so much for me. It may have been 12 years later that I shared my mental health story, but there are so many more young people struggling across the UK.
If we take the time to listen, without judgement, more people will feel safe. A safe environment allows a young person to feel confident enough (even if it’s still a small amount) to share what’s going on.
I wanted to put a knife to myself. I wanted to jump of a bridge. I wanted to electrocute myself. NO ONE SHOULD EVER FEEL THIS WAY!!! NO YOUNG PERSON SHOULD FEEL THIS WAY!!!
This is my message going into next week’s fundraiser. Be there for someone. Text someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Call a friend. A family member. Ask how they are. Tell them how you are. Create that bond. Create the safe environment. One conversation can save a life!
When I’m at Pure Gym Southampton (Bitterne) next week, someone in the gym will suffer from a mental health illness. Someone will see what’s going on and hopefully they’ll be inspired. Hopefully a few of you reading this will be too!
I’m going to be lifting 100,000kg within a 15 hour period (1086 times my own bodyweight), and never having done anything like this before, I know it’s going to be a test.
With the likes of British Weighlifting supporting the fundraiser, I’m going into the challenge confident. It’s going to be painful. It’s going to be mentally draining, but all the barriers will be broken. This will be another challenge I conquer!! Even with the short recovery after my 21 marathons!
If you’d like to support the fundraiser in aid of YoungMinds donate, please follow the link below.