Get A Grip would like to share Marks brilliant submission with you this evening. Thank you Mark for being so open. I have been blown away by the increasing amount of these submissions I am receiving. Its great to see what sport and fitness is doing to change lives along side other ongoing self-care strategies. If you are interested in sharing your story please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The stigma is being smashed one post at at time!
Name: Mark Daniel
Occupation: Events Engineer
How would you best describe or define fitness?
Being in a clean bill of health and wellbeing. A plan to help someone improve their health and physical condition usually as a result of sustained and committed exercise, coupled with good nutrition.
What exercise, sport or fitness regime do you partake in and how often?
I have played rugby for over 30 years and played all other sports when I was younger. Having been a keen gym member, I transitioned across to Crossfit on the advice of a friend. I try to take part in some form of fitness between 5-6 times a week.
Was there a ‘lightbulb’ moment when you realised you had to make a change and how did your transition into exercise, fitness or wellbeing come about?
Having gone through the standard macho denial phase, thoughts, feelings and mild panic attacks threatening to consume me. An unlucky but trusted colleague caught me at a low point and asked me if I was ok… I wasn’t. It was at this point of realisation that I began my journey. Rugby, and more recently Crossfit gives me that time, whether it’s an hour or an afternoon, where I am untouchable. Nobody can contact me, ring me, bother me or even upset me. I am with likeminded people who do not judge me and where social status counts for nothing. I am nothing without my teammates and I suffer alongside every other crossfitter every burpee of the way.
When did you start to experience mental health problems?
I have always been a bit of a worrier but no more than the next person. I’m not sure I can pinpoint an exact time or event which triggered my anxiety and worry. It was more a case of extrinsic pressures chipping away over time, building up to a point where it nearly took over.
What impact has exercise and fitness had on your physical and mental health?
Sport has always been an integral part of my life. For me, it clears the mind and gives you something to focus on with that huge sense of freedom. The benefits of fitness are well documented, its hard work but it’s worth it. I am currently fighting a decision to retire from rugby (It hurts!) so need to continue my fitness and diversify to keep myself from falling back into that anxiety trap.
Any future fitness goals or targets?
To keep at it! When I retire from rugby I am keen to broaden my fitness horizons and continue to learn from others. I’m not too sure if I’ll achieve that muscle up or handstand push up, but I’ll keep at it knowing that I might just get there in the end!
Do you implement and other self-care strategies to help manage your ongoing mental health?
I have been to a few sessions with the amazing people at Positive Steps in Weston. They teach you brilliant coping techniques and give you the mental tools to take forward.
Any final words of encouragement or advice for anyone struggling with mental health issues?
Talk to somebody! You have no idea the weight that can be lifted off your shoulders just by sharing a problem. Know that it’s a bumpy old road and you’ll have both good and bad days, but ultimately it does get that little bit easier day by day. Have patience and trust in the skills people give you. Speak to likeminded people, keep up that fitness or sport, no matter how little but above all, don’t give up on it!