3 MIN READ | Mental Health Stories

My Mental Health Story: How Staying Active and Fit Helped Me Regain Some Control

Daniel Barton

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Daniel Barton, (2020, February 14). My Mental Health Story: How Staying Active and Fit Helped Me Regain Some Control. Psychreg on Mental Health Stories. https://www.psychreg.org/staying-fit-mental-health/
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Since being diagnosed with mental health problems, life has been difficult on a number of levels, from struggling to get out of bed, not wanting to go to work and not wanting to spend time with my family.

The first step to overcoming these problems was to visit my local GP and seek help, my doctor decided that I needed to take medication for my anger, depression, stress, and suicidal thoughts.

At this point they prescribed 50mg of sertraline which is the base level anti-depressant and also recommend I spoke to an IAPT counsellor to talk through any thoughts and issues that I may have.

The only issue I had with this was that IAPT appointment was going to be 3–6 months away due to a huge waiting list, so at this point I decided that I needed to help myself recover.

Exercise, specifically boxing, helped me regain some control. Once the sertraline had entered my system 2–4 weeks later, I then decided to get back in the gym. It was tough at first due to having no energy and drive to get up and go to the gym but once I had taken the first step it progressively got easier.

Lifting heavy weights and hitting the punch bag really cleared my mind to a point where I was feeling on top of the world both mentally and physically but then I had a relapse. The relapse really knocked me back and cost me three weeks of sitting at home not being interested in the world and ultimately led to six weeks away from the gym.

I revisited the GP once again where they increased my sertraline dosage to 100mg and added me to the IAPT counselling list once again. 

Then six weeks later I decided to get back in the gym and make a real go of it, I decided I was going to do boxing three times a week, and weightlifting three times a week. So far I have kept to the regime and can really see the benefit both physically and mentally but I am under no illusions that there is still a very long way to go.

I am currently feeling very positive about life and what it holds in the future and I am using my experiences to help others in a similar situation. I firmly believe that exercise is one of the best medications for mental health problems along with talking to others about it too, we all know someone who has been affected by mental health or is currently struggling, so reach out if you can.

It was a conversation with a friend that reached out to me about his anxiety which made me think how many more people are suffering in silence? So I decided to start up my #mentalmate campaign which spreads the message that ‘everyone needs some to discuss their mental health problems with and that is a mental mate’.

As part of the project I have decided to put on boxing classes specifically for people suffering with mental health problems, this will give people a platform to get fit but more importantly discuss any difficulties they may be experiencing with other people in the same mindset.

The project has had a brilliant reaction so far in my local area of Sheffield with the support of some local boxing stars and gyms, I have also had interest from other cities and towns with pro boxers wanting to run their own #mentalmate boxing sessions to help people in the area. This project has brought so much positivity to my life and then thought of helping people who were or are in the position I once was really excites me.

This project allows us to help people directly but also helps us raise much needed funds for local mental health charities, we are raising fund by selling #mentalmate clothing such as hoodies and t-shirts with 100%of the profits going back into mental health.

*** Image credit: Freepik


Daniel Barton is the founder of #mentalmate. Daniel decided to use his own mental health experiences to help others.

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