When I was first suffering with depression in 2013, many friends solicitously suggested using exercise as a way of curing it. I knew it made sense – endorphins make you feel great and exercise releases them.
But as I was laid prone in bed Monday to Sunday, these little nuggets of WhatsApp advice went ignored.
If you have no motivation to get out of bed and get dressed, you’re hardly going to go for a run, a bike ride, a walk or a swim.
Depression, at its deepest, is utterly debilitating.
I remember days passing in a haze as I played on mindless apps like Candy Crush. I was ashamed to go outside in case neighbours and ex-pupils questioned why I was off. I remember it took me over a month to actually get dressed, go out and head to Burgh Castle for a long walk.
It helped a bit, but my fractured mind was still playing the stuck record of what had happened to me and seeing a few moor hens and boring boats on the Broads was hardly cathartic.
Hindsight though is wonderful, isn’t it?
What friends were suggesting – doing something physically – was spot on.
It was a strange period of my life, from being active socially and physically, to hibernating under a duvet, seeking answers in drink.
That didn’t help either.
As a child, I was very inactive, but I blame this on an undiagnosed food allergy – coeliac disease – and when I went gluten free in 2002, it gave me a sudden impetus of physical energy, which I maintained for 11 years.
2013 though saw my mind broken, my body reverted to childhood inertia, and instead of say Calpol to mend it, I sought comfort in binge drinking daily.
It made me escape, but at night my thoughts grew darker and the light the next day became increasingly unbearable.
There’s absolute truth in it though – drink is a depressant and exercise is a natural anti-depressant.
I gave up drink for good last year on 19th December 2016 and joined Bannatyne’s gym soon after and adopted a rescue dog this September.
Now my days, and my mind and my thoughts, are totally different.
I’m still embittered by the events, but alcohol cessation means that I don’t look back in anger (I hate Oasis by the way), but look forward to what I’ve built from when I was lost: a writing business, Get Pro Copy, a website business with Paul, 321 Websites, and now the editor of Man Stress with Messrs Crisp and Charnock.
If you’re suffering from stress, anxiety and depression, the first thing I’d recommend is binning booze; the second is exercise; the third is get a dog.
Now don’t get me wrong; I still have days where I reflect and feel morose about leaving teaching, but you know what, teaching made me and others mentally ill and I’m better off sober, with a dog, gym membership and out of that awful system we call education.