Throughout Mental Health Awareness week (13-19 May 2019) we shared stories from our This Girl Can Essex and Essex All Together Ambassadors. The inspiring stories were based around how physical activity had helped their mental health.

Please find the stories below –

“In 2018 I fell pregnant with my third son, during this time I developed severe pre-natal anxiety and depression. In January 2018 I saw a Facebook advert for Pink Gloves charity boxing to raise money for a local child with cancer and in a complete moment of madness I signed up. It was the scariest thing I’ve done but each session I attended, I grew in confidence and my mood was improving. I realised that the exercise was what helped improve my mood and anxiety. I remember one day I was just crying through my whole run because I felt so emotional that the always ‘fat girl’ bullied at school, who everyone though was lazy, was actually out on a run! Of course I have lost a lot of weight and it’s what people always comment on, but I always tell them that although it is great, it is the impact on my mental health that literally feels like a miracle!”

 

 

“I used to be very active prior to my Fibromyalgia. I was very comfortable with my body image, but then everything changed. My condition effected my weight. I continued to deteriorate until my multi-disciplinary approach started and increasing my levels of activity. I went through many challenging times while dealing with my body image but I learnt to accept my body for what it was and to not aim for what I once was, but what I felt comfortable in. They say you don’t notice a physical difference from Fibromyalgia. I am now more content with my own image and I want to share my story so that it helps others too.”

 

 

 

 

“I always ran. I then got pregnant, but sadly lost my baby at 21 weeks. I returned to running to help me through it and it really did help. I would feel so down and sad yet I’d go out and run. Losing a baby and pushing myself with my running caused me to enter my first ever half marathon. I dedicated every mile to a friend or family’s baby they’d lost and I sobbed when I crossed the finish line. I then did fall pregnant again and had my rainbow baby. I pushed myself to get back to running as soon as I could as being a new mum can be tough and I know I needed to do something for me. I have since ran another half marathon and my rainbow baby is now 11 months old.”

 

 

 

“My journey into running started last year. I decided to sign up to the London ‘Glow in the Park’ and downloaded the couch to 5k app. It took me a few weeks to get motivated. My friend said to me ‘everyone has to start somewhere, don’t worry about what people think’. She was right. As I progressed through the app I was finding running allowed me to be more aware of the present moment, my feelings, thoughts and body and what was going on around me. The Glow in the Park event was amazing. From beginning to end I was buzzing and pleased that all my time and effort had paid off. Reflecting on the last year, I have learnt fitness isn’t always about diets, weight loss, flat stomachs and following the trend of being better than anyone else. It’s about the transformation of lifestyle and mindset and making the most of it – everyone’s journey is unique!”

 

 

 

“Swimming has not only helped me avoid any surgery, but has also improved my mental health. There was a time when I was stuck inside my house for 3 months, unable to even dress myself properly as I was in so much pain. I was depressed and I was lonely. However, once I started to swim and felt the benefits and improvements in my mobility I started to see a change in the way I thought about myself too. I became so much stronger mentally. I firmly believe that if we tell ourselves we can do something, then we can, nobody is going to stop us but ourselves. Once you get your mindset right there really is no stopping any of us.”

 

 

 

“I am a mum of 2 and have anxiety, which comes in peaks and troughs, but keeping fit has definitely helped. I started running properly again after my first child in 2016 and completed various races, including the Brighton Marathon last year. We had our second child in February of this year and I have been back running for about 4 weeks. I now run and attend CrossFit classes regularly (and did throughout pregnancy) and would love to raise awareness of how it is possible to stay active during pregnancy and motherhood and how it can enhance wellbeing, not just physically but mentally too.”