I was a shy, very recluse kind of guy. I didn’t go out much, socialising was hard, and I spent more time working than living. The work meant I could hide away from social interactions where I had an emotional involvement in what was going on. Coming to terms that you have mental health issues is very hard. I have been there, and I am still working through the issues.
One thing I will say is you are not alone. Everyone you see with a smile on their faces, looking happy on social media, or just out and about will have or had some form of mental health issues. It can be as simple as you don’t like the way you look; you don’t like being around people or you have had some form of physical or family trauma.
We hide away quicker than facing these events head on. Why? Because we don’t want to admit we are weak, we must feel like we are in control, and we need to conform to what we perceive as the normal in the world.
We are not normal; we are far from it. What we should be; is healthy both physically and mentally.
My journey started with realising that I was ashamed of what I saw in the mirror looking back at me, that the people around me were not healthy, they just did what was the normal and within the limits of the perceived lifestyle of the area.
Take away restaurants, gyms with limited opening hours, cheap opportunities to drink and smoke. Not good. The opportunities were limited, the ways to keep fit restricted because of the normal way of living in the area I lived.
It was grim, why work a 60-hour week for not being able to fully look after your own mental and physical health. Then I had an awakening. I woke up one day and I found a gym, a gym not too big, a place where everyone had the same agenda, to be fitter and more in control of what was acceptable and not the normal.
It was a community of like-minded people. Plus, I finally confronted myself and signed up to see a counsellor, someone who could help me pick apart my emotions, my experiences and help me build a bank of tools to enable me to be in more control. The control I thought I had.
This journey isn’t over, in fact it has just begun. The path started to move quickly as I learnt that I wasn’t happy. I found that I needed a new job, needed to move, needed to make life simpler. I moved my life to Manchester and that’s now where I am 4 years on.
My mental health was still not where it needed to be, but I continued to train in the gym, losing weight, gaining muscle, I found a love for my teaching career again, and I was in the city where socialising was easier and people wanted to be happy and more forward thinking.
The journey is never easy but finding out more about yourself is the key to being happier. Now in Manchester I sought out a counsellor and continued to review, reflect, and build tools to help me make my life what I wanted it to be. In 12 short months, I met a guy who now is the love of my life, made several close friends and I changed my career path. I never thought I would be doing what I am now when this journey started, but my mental health still being the focus of my time, I found what I needed.
I needed control of my time, I needed to be able to sleep when I was tired, to train when I had the energy, needed to be around people who had one thing in common, people who wanted to be fitter and better versions of themselves.
So, I took a leap of faith and became self-employed, I become a personal trainer in Pure Gym, Exchange Quay, Manchester. It isn’t an easy career but it’s now not about money but about self-care, being in control and helping other people find their path. Time is the most precious thing in the world and being stuck in a career that you work 60+ hours for money that at the end of the day, you don’t get the time for yourself, friends, and family, is not worth it.
I work with busy people, and we get results, we don’t look for quick wins and easy fixes, we look at what fitness will look like 12 months from now. How you can change your routine slowly to make more time for yourself. Having had a personal trainer myself and now being one makes me very good at what I do. Quite a few trainers don’t focus on the long-term mental health and make change happen but very quickly and not sustainable. I know the benefits of talking through issues, taking each week one step at a time, and getting long lasting results. I also know how life gets in the way, causing stress which impacts on all aspects of life.
I am still on my journey for physical and mental fitness, the road is bumpy and what makes it better is I am being me, working on me and I am happy with that.