Personal Trainer Nick opens up about his struggle with depression, managing mental health through physical action, and helping himself through helping others.
I'm going to dive straight into this one guys because there's no point me trying to paint a fairytale-esque picture, I have struggled with depression for years, it rears it's ugly head now and then but it was a constant thing 10 years ago to the point where I had jotted out a suicide note, would I have followed through with this really? Or was it a cry for help? Who knows.
I am glad that I stuck around though because ironically I am now a self employed Personal Trainer, and I help people go through physical and mental barriers with a view of improving their own lives and having more self worth and belief in themselves and those around them. I help other people and I feel that struggling and going through times of hardship and emotional turmoil have helped shape the way I am now, and the determined and optimistic approach I now have to life. I look at how far I have come in the past few years, at times with the help of my anxieties funnily enough (I was in a band before I became a PT, we toured Europe and because of my struggles I had no lack of things to write lyrics about)
Dont get me wrong, some days are hard, but most are not, I have developed a warrior's armour and I use my demons to motivate me now. I turn Anxiety into a gym session, or I cycle 50 miles, or I go and declare war on a punchbag in the gym (it works for me, find what works for you).
I've accepted that life will not always be plain sailing, but once you get to that point it becomes easier to manage things, and instead of seeing life as a giant battle, you see it as lots of small battles, and as you work through them the satisfaction you feel really is fantastic, and truly rewarding.
Do what you can to manage your mind, but don't be too hard on yourself if you have bad days, we are all human after all. Unfortunately the stiff upper lip thing is prevalent in men, but remember that it's not a weakness to talk about stuff, the stigma needs to be lifted. I'm a physical guy, I love being active and staying strong and positive, but when I need to talk about something and open up to friends, I send a text or two out and before you know it I am with a mate talking over a coffee, and 'miraculously' I feel better. If you had a broken leg you wouldn't mind going to the doctor, so when you have some stuff in your noggin that needs addressing then suck it up and talk about it. It's easy to run to the pub and down 10 pints or to switch on Pornhub and pound your puddin' to distract yourself momentarily from the things getting you down.
Ultimately talking about it is tried and tested, so give it a try. As men we need to start looking at ourselves more and breaking ourselves down in a positive way and looking at developing new and better habits when it comes to managing depression, stress, anxiety. If anyone tells you it makes you less of a man addressing these feelings they have a lot to learn about life. You know what though? I don't think too many people will take that view, we're doing a good job of tackling the stigma, I am by writing this and you are by taking the time to read it.
Depression seems to have always been around me and I'm lucky that I have been taught to not take life too seriously, and take enjoyment out of life even when it's tough, but I feel like I have done a lot of time in the past in a dark place, not really knowing whether I would fully recover, At my lowest point I remember throwing my Prozac in the bin when I had decided I 'had enough' of taking tablets, and then having to dig through a bin to find it when the withdrawal symptoms kicked in. I couldn't buy more as I had no money, so going through a bin full of rubbish to find tablets was where I was at. Once I had found them I popped one, then went back to bed to stare at the ceiling for another 8 hours, sleep was the only refuge I had from life at that point, but as I said before, that was then, times are very different now.
I genuinely feel unstoppable most days, the world is my lobster (or is that oyster?), and I am grateful that I found fitness and a way out of how I was feeling. I hope you guys find something that offers you a way out, I know you will, when you do, pursue it and master it, use your struggle to propel you forward, when you can turn some of the negative feelings into action, it feels very rewarding.