TAiT - Laura's Story on Mental Health.
I am 23 and from Liverpool.
I am a self-employed personal trainer.
If it's dog, exercise or chocolate related – count me in.
Summary of my mental health
Age 12 : At the age of 12 my parents went through a divorce. During the 12 months leading up to this I had been subjected to tough times, which I still struggle to talk about even to those I love, today. In actual fact it took me 9 years to tell anyone at all about these events. I never felt sad about the fact my family was no longer together, but looking back, it wasn’t an absence of sadness but rather an absence of feeling all together.
Age 15 : Still firmly believing that I was unaffected of the events that occurred between 2006 & 2007 I continued to play sport, do well at school and carry on ‘being fine’ . One moment I felt as though I was fine the next I was full of negative emotion. I suffered from sleep paralysis & quite vivid flash backs that used to keep me awake for hours at a time. My emotions were outside of my control.
Age 16 : I had come to develop a pretty convincing poker face. “I was fine”. In a bid to regain control of my emotions I started to over control my eating via the use of fat burners, a lot of coffee and laxatives. My family aired concern over my weight but I just used to deny all knowledge of what they were talking about. The only thing I was happy about was looking “better” body wise. These behaviours peaked & troughed till age 19. I tried CBT therapy but you only get out of talking therapy what you put in and I wasn’t ready to talk.
Age 19: 19 was a milestone for me. I felt more secure. My yoyo relationship with food was still one to be questioned but overall I was feeling better. I met my lovely boyfriend, who was a personal trainer and Thai boxing coach at a local gym. He taught me more about diet and over time I became more knowledgeable, knowing I could ‘look good’ but still eat. This was a big turning point for me. I felt genuinely happy.
Age 20: My boyfriend and I had a rocky start to this year for personal reasons. This opened the flood gates for me once more. I would wake up in the morning and cry because I was had woken up and I felt guilty for this. I decided to seek medical help. My GP told me I was ‘mildly depressed’ and offered me antidepressants, which I declined. I don’t know if that was a right or wrong decision of me but at the time it didn’t feel right. I continued with my studies at university despite my anxiety being really high and my mood being really low. I was still exercising 5- 6 days a week as it was the only constant thing that made me feel better. Overall my relationship with food was better.
Age 23: I took time out and started practicing yoga. At first this was for sport related reasons however I started to really enjoy the mindful side to it. It opened my eyes to a new way of thinking. It got me interested in Buddhist teachings, breathing practices and how to find some space in my mind to just ‘be’. Due to my change in outlook I am happier, I see the world differently, my relationships are stronger and my life has changed. I understand that life will be difficult at times going forward but I feel better equipped to deal with that now. I started as a personal trainer under the name of mindful muscle with the aim of showing people the benefits of exercise both for the body and the mind. Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you feel good. Why would you choose to not make yourself feel better? I feel I have come a long way in the past 11 years & I’m not done yet. I do not resent the things that have happened to me, I am grateful for what they have taught me.
Keeping active/ Training/ Walking – moving more has always & will always be my biggest protective factor. I’m proud of this!
Actively helping others - sharing my time, my knowledge, my passion to help others.
Buddhist teachings/ Mindfulness – these concepts and readings offer me comfort when I need them, they help me to be more mentally balanced.
Spending too much time alone –I like to be in the presence of people, a lot. Too much time on my own definitely makes me feel a little sad.
Alcohol – I don’t drink a lot. However this is because I can’t actually cope with how I feel afterwards when I do. The social pressure to ‘drink to be social’ really bugs me.
Control – I still struggle with situations I cannot control though I am getting better. If this ‘loss of control’ is prolonged I am definitely more mentally vulnerable.