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  • Comments: 0
  • 29 July 2016 00:00
  • in Community
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Sam's story(, aged 21) - Fitness In Mind™, Peer Mentor, Gym Instructor & Volunteer

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I’ve had ill mental health ever since I can remember. I was diagnosed at a very young age, before I was even able to comprehend what mental health was. My first diagnosis was OCD and depression, I was then later diagnosed with Schizophrenia, although I feel I could have been wrongly diagnosed and further assessment in the future may be able to resolve this if it was a mistake. I spent a long time hiding my mental illness in school and social gatherings due to embarrassment; ill became an expert on keeping it and as I grew so did my knowledge on mental health due to obvious personal relations and time to accept it. At first I didn’t think many people would be very understanding considering the amount of stigma around mental illness, this made me feel ashamed and I used to wish I had a normal mind.

I was put on Fluoxetine (an antidepressant which I have been taken off of and then put back onto for many years now). I have also been prescribed Valium and antipsychotics. I had been through all different variants of therapy and psychotherapy. In my past I had moved about a lot and lived with many different families, had fallen into bad habits, bad situations and made bad choices. My life had hit rock bottom, I had no money, no help, no paths, and no future. My mental health was deteriorating. No one was monitoring my medication and I became deeply depressed. I felt useless, alone, and consistently thought about suicide; and that was a good day! I knew I needed to get on track otherwise I would spend the rest of my life trapped in those circumstances.

To begin with I got myself into college, I then started martial arts again, which played a big part in my recovery. However, although my time spent at these places was happy and positive, all other aspects of my life remained the same. After one of my birthdays, a family I used to live with got in contact and wanted me to visit them. I didn’t want them to see me in the state I was in but they assured me it wouldn’t matter. After spending a weekend with them, they took me out for my birthday and even bought me a cake; I was overwhelmed and was sad to leave! I was then asked if I wanted to rent a room with them, they said they’d help me get back on track. My medication was then being monitored and I was getting support, I also had stability.

I later found an OCD group where I met Wayne who suggested a course to me after hearing about my martial arts. The course was free for any mental health or physical disability individuals. The course consisted of fitness training and theory work to become a level 2 fitness instructor. I decided to take up with his suggestion and went on to meet with Wayne and a few others, this was where a program idea was brought up as a part of a mental health charity that would focus on physical and mental health. Creating sports and meditative programs, along with peer support, mentoring and mentoring the mental and physical health of other individuals. It was an exciting plan. Ideas began flying and I was excited to be part of it!

After many months of planning, team work and support, we began our first term. We couldn’t have been happier with the result, we won an award for sports program of the year, although the most rewarding part was seeing the progression if the clients, they all became more confident, happier and optimistic after starting the program. Everyone became a family, especially since everyone had their own personal experiences, which meant everyone could be themselves. After joining this program, I began to realised I had no need to be ashamed, or try to hide my mental illness because it was more common than I had ever anticipated, and so many great people had had the same issues. In recent months I have also been given a job as a fitness instructor.

My life had completely turned around and I have got myself on track and continue to progress. I have been able to do this through motivation, support and dedication. That’s it exactly what I and many others have put into Fitness in Mind and that is what Fitness in Mind has given back to us.
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