Posted on 25 June 2014,   0 Comments

Ever since I can remember, from quite a young age, I’ve always suffered with mood swings. It’s something that seemed to get worse as I got older. I’ve always had a bad tendency to shut myself off away from reality when going through the bad patches.

This always made me an easy target at school. I’d get bullied on a daily basis. I was always overweight, and had very few friends, so it’s safe to say my teenage years weren’t the greatest.

After I finished school, I’d started a course at college, where I’d made a bunch of friends. It was the first time I’d felt like I could be myself around others. I finally had a social life and good people around me. It was also the first time I’d been surrounded by people who were very understanding if I was having a bad day. It was a lot easier to open up and be honest to these people than I’d anticipated.

I had sought medical advice a fair few times about my mood swings and negative feelings, but it took until my early 20s when I started having anxiety attacks for them to take real notice. I’d been told I was suffering with depression and been put on medication, which helped, but it never fully solved anything.

The main problem was that I never really had an outlet.

I never knew how to get rid of the negative feelings other than talk to my friends. I’d end up feeling a burden and shutting myself off again.

After having a real hard time, I eventually did some research into what could help with my mood swings. I discovered that exercise was good for depression, so I joined a gym. I never really took it seriously at first, but after a bad depression relapse, where I was ready to end my life, I realised straight away I needed to do something about it. I’d seen a mental health specialist who had diagnosed me with bipolar, which was a relief in itself, as I had an answer for everything, and it was also at this point I started taking the exercise seriously. I literally went to the gym 7 days a week, with a determination to make myself better.

It worked.

This was the turning point I had been hoping for. I started feeling so much better about myself. Not only had I found the outlet I needed, but it also helped me lose a load of weight and gain a lot of confidence in myself, which was something I’d never had before. It felt slightly surreal that something I’d never considered doing when I was younger would help me feel positive on a daily basis.

With this new fitness kick, I was given the opportunity to take part in the Cardiff half marathon last year. Now this was something I never thought was possible, but before even giving it real thought, I agreed to do it. Although I’d been going to the gym (on pretty much a daily basis), I saw this as a new challenge, and something new to put my mind to. Again, all my spare time was dedicated to training and running, which also became another great outlet for me.

After months of training, I took part in the half marathon and completed it in 2 and a half hours. This absolutely blew my mind. Not only was it a proud achievement, but I felt I real sense of pride on how far I had come. It also gave me a different outlook on life. I thought if I could achieve something like that, I could do anything if I put my mind to it.

Ever since, I’ve always set myself little challenges. I’ve found that in doing so, it helps me keep my mind occupied and focused on all the positives in my life.

It’s given me a new perspective on how to deal with bipolar, too. Realising that exercise is obviously the outlet I need to let out any negativity, I now know that whenever I’m beginning to feel low or if I’m having a bad day, I need to head out on a run, or to the gym.

I guess exercise isn’t going to be for everyone, but it’s finding that outlet. No matter how stupid it seems at first, once you find that outlet, it makes dealing with the hard times so much easier and gives a sense of hope. Every time I head out on a run now, I end up thinking to myself:

Sure there’ll always be bad times, but in the grand scheme of things, life is pretty awesome.

– Ceri

Things to take from Ceri’s story:

  • It’s good, where possible, to surround yourself with people you can talk openly about your feelings with, especially when you’re having a bad day. Moving to a new group of people means you can start again. It might be easier than you think.
  • If you find yourself constantly feeling low, or having mood swings and/or panic attacks, it’s definitely worth seeking professional medical help from your GP. Just by being diagnosed with something means you can understand it, and start to do something about it.
  • Joining a gym can be a great way to work through and deal with the negative emotions you’re experiencing. You can use it as a way to meet new people too AND it’s good for your health, result!
  • You don’t even need to spend money on joining a gym; just getting outside and going for a run can clear your head, and still be good for you.
  • Set yourself challenges. A marathon might be a little extreme, but you never know what you’re capable of until you try it. Once you’ve achieved something you didn’t think you could, you’ll realise just how much else you can do. Giving yourself something to work towards can give you a sense of purpose, and achievement once you’ve done it.
  • Exercising to keep your head above the waves isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s about finding what works for you. If you’re looking for some other suggestions, read some of our other stories!

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