Getting to Grips with...Lia

mental health get a grip
Project Get A Grip would like to share Lia’s touching submission. Lia has shown some amazing courage speaking out about her depression/anxiety and has used exercise to help her ‘Get To Grips’ with it.
'Through exercise I have gotten to genuinely love myself and who I am, which is such an important step when dealing with mental problems, as self-compassion and self-kindness are VERY important. I have gone from thinking the lowest of myself to saying out loud to myself what a strong person I am and how I should always strive for the best in my life.'
Thank you Lia 😃 
How would you best describe or define fitness?
A way to make day to day things feel lighter while reaping the physical rewards.
What exercise, sport or fitness regime do you partake in and how often?
I mostly do strength and conditioning. I aim to train 4 times a week, walk at least 7km a day and practice dance a couple of hours at the weekend.
 
When did you start to experience mental health problems?
I have always been through difficult times, but I haven’t realised how deeply I was affected until later on in life when around the age of 14 I has anxiety attacks almost every day and I was often self-harming as a means to get attention and support.
 
Was there a ‘lightbulb’ moment when you realised you had to make a change and how did your transition into exercise and fitness come about?
It wasn’t up until the age of 22 when depression completely took over my life (work, university and relationships) and I barely had any emotional support. That’s when I decided to see a therapist and when things changed for the best. Alongside therapy, I joined a Crossfit box in October that year, determined to prioritise my physical and mental health above anything else. And it was one the best decisions I have ever made.
 
What impact has exercise and fitness had on your physical and mental health?
I cannot recommend exercise enough in terms of its effects on mental health. I have given myself confidence, I have gotten to know myself better and how I work, I have empowered myself, I have basically taken control over my life. I am now able to see my depression signs and even easily seek help (whereas before I used to just lock myself in the room). Through exercise I have gotten to genuinely love myself and who I am, which is such an important step when dealing with mental problems, as self-compassion and self-kindness are VERY important. I have gone from thinking the lowest of myself to saying out loud to myself what a strong person I am and how I should always strive for the best in my life.
I could endlessly talk about it. It’s completely changed my life and I consider myself very lucky to be where I am now because I exercise.
Any future fitness goals or targets?
I want to become the best version of myself and keep pushing my limits. But working with and being around dancers all the time has completely changed my goals. I went from wanting to be a Strongwoman to now wanting to be very flexible, strong, yet graceful as a ballerina.
 
Any final words of encouragement or advice for anyone struggling with mental health issues?         
Please do not give up. It’s OK to ask for help and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Remind yourself you’re not alone and do not trust the negative things you tell yourself when feeling down. Be kind, be understanding and do more of the things you love. Find a passion and explore it to its unknown depths.Things also feel much worse when alone between four walls. Don’t forget to go outside and look up. Smell the flowers and watch the sunset. And surround yourself with good quality people, I can’t emphasize this enough!

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