A mentally challenging sport, with a mental health disorder

When this appeared in our inbox from someone I immediately asked if we could post it…they said yes by the way! 

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Ask anyone that competes competitively and they will agree that alongside physical strength being challenged, a perhaps equal part of mental strength is also being put to the test. The highs and lows of the actual competition, the weeks and even months before hand whilst you’re prepping, the endless training, the weight cutting, the qualifying and then if you’re lucky, competing internationally. It’s amazing, yet it also takes a lot of dedication. This dedication and discipline attracted me to the sport of powerlifting, and almost 4 years later I still love it.

I’ve had some great times competing both nationally and internationally. Apart from 5 weeks off when I travelled New Zealand after a competition, I’ve not missed more than 2 weeks of training at any one time in the last 4 years. We all like to take rest days or even up to a week of rest, but something always brings us back to the gym. It’s like a drug, makes you feel good and Is strangely addictive. Now try doing all this whilst battling a mental health disorder. 7 years it’s been. But only now have I had a diagnosis.

Finding the right medication has been hard, and I’m not even sure if I’ve found it now, and the side effects have been horrendous, but I’ve still kept training. There have been the occasional days where I’ve just not been able to train, and I pulled out of nationals last year and took a year out because of it but that hasn’t stopped me training to get stronger and stronger physically if not mentally. I’m worse now than I have been, and I’m not going to lie it has taken a toll on my training. I’ve gone from 5-6 days a week in the gym to 4-5 if I’m lucky. I post videos up of my training, and whenever I see people they comment on how well my training is going. In actual fact it’s never been better, but they don’t see behind the scenes on most days.

My training partner and I have a strong friendship, he helps me overcome most things, be it training, work stresses, uni problems, you name it, he supports me. This hasn’t stopped with my illness, he carries on supporting me. Some days I feel great and can keep my training plan going, others I can barely focus or even miss the gym completely. We’ve both come to accept that that’s just how it is at the moment. It will get better but it might just take a bit more time than planned. I’m in no rush to put myself under the pressure of competing internationally, so if the opportunity comes up and I’m in a better place then great, if I’m not, then there will be another time when I can.

Acceptance for me has been hard but is becoming the key to the management of myself.

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