This is a guest post by personal trainer, Mitchell Robinson. He speaks of his thoughts of suicide and his journey to recovery through exercise. You can follow his journey on Instagram, @1MitchellFitness.
”What do you have to be sad about?” – A question I would ask myself every day. It felt like from the alarm clock going off in the morning to my eyes closing at night, that I was fighting an internal battle. A smile or laughter would mask the pain on the inside. No one would ever think I was someone who could barely look in the mirror most days. I just deemed myself as weak, with low self-esteem and as just generally sad or broken. I found myself feeling alone in groups of people; and I just couldn’t shake it…
I had to make a change.
I didn’t know how, but what I did know was I couldn’t physically stay in this dark place any longer.
Should I of reach out for help? How? I didn’t even know what or how I was feeling, let alone tell someone else about it. I felt embarrassed and weak. I went to the doctors and they didn’t help much. It made me feel even more alone.
The first step I took was acceptance. I accepted I wasn’t OK.
A big trigger for me was getting injured playing football to the point I couldn’t play anymore. I spent four years in America playing and chasing my dream. I had a chance to play in Italy but suddenly, due to injuries, I was back home in England unable to play and working a job that wasn’t my passion. It was heart-breaking.
Don’t get me wrong, even while playing football I had this internal battle; I’ve had it since I was around 14 but not being able to play football anymore really added onto my internal battle and, if I’m being completely transparent, it pushed me to the edge. I felt like it’d be better if I wasn’t here.
I didn’t enjoy the gym in any way. Truth be told, even when I was playing football, the gym was such a chore. I just wanted to play football, not work out. So, when I decided to join a gym I was thinking to myself, “what a stupid decision you’re just going to waste your money.” Yet again, another internal battle.
One night I said to myself: “at six am, I am going wake up and start my day with the gym.” Six am came, I didn’t get up. I couldn’t. I felt so depressed in the mornings, when the alarm would go off, reality would hit and I couldn’t think of anything worse than facing the day. Weeks passed, and I still hadn’t been to the gym at six am.
Then one day my life completely changed. I felt very suicidal at home, so I decided I was going to take myself to the gym and instead of fighting this internal battle in my room, I was going to get a good gym playlist together and work out. I arrived at the gym, with gym anxiety as usual. Not wanting to be there. Fighting in my head more than usual.
On arrival, I regretted my decision instantly, but I forced myself to stay. I decided to go to the free weights area and just do some basic stuff. One hour passed and I was finishing up my session but it felt different; I felt good. I felt happy. My favourite songs were playing through my earphones, I was in my own world focusing on counting sets and reps, instead of telling myself how much I hate myself. Every set I felt more and more accomplished. It felt surreal. I left the gym happy. I went in debating my life, and left with a smile on my face. A real one.
The next day I woke up at 6am, sad again, but this time I said to myself, “think of how you felt yesterday, get up and get to the gym.” That took a lot of strength and will power.
Sometimes I look back and wonder how I got up when I was in such a dark place, but I did it, I got to the gym and worked out. Again, after it, I felt really good.
As the weeks went by, I was in a much better place. Of course I still had bad days – I do to this day – but looking in the mirror became bearable as I was seeing results from the gym. My state of mind was improving. I was being more cautious of what I was eating. On days where I didn’t have time for the gym, I was doing home workouts.
You see that’s the thing, there is a workout for any time and any place. That’s what makes fitness so good – how accessible it is.
Without going into too much detail about my back story I just wanted to share how fitness saved me. How working out can help. I am now a personal trainer with a mental health focus; meaning I am available for my clients 24/7 if they ever need to talk. I don’t just set goals for physical health but for mental health too, as I know just how important it is.
That’s why I wrote this blog and why I made my fitness Instagram page (@1mitchellfitness) – to give out free workouts and to talk about different topics to help others. I want to leave you guys with some tips to try and see if fitness can save you, the same way it saved me.
- Create a routine or plan, so that when you are exercising you can feel a sense of accomplishment for every workout or set you finish.
- Make a playlist of songs you love. It’ll really help with the feel good factor!
- Understand it’s a process and some days will be better than others.
- Make healthier choices food wise. You’ll see massive mood and health improvements.
- Understand everyone at some point has gym anxiety. It will ease in time, as uncomfortable as it feels at first, you got this.
- Have fun!
I hope this helps. Please remember it’s okay not to be okay. You are never alone. And just know that PAPYRUS is here to help.
Please only take part in exercise if you’re fit and healthy and cleared by a doctor.
If you’re 35 and under and struggling with thoughts of suicide, or you’re worried for someone who is, HOPELINE247 is here for you. Call 0800 068 4141, text 07860039967, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash