I move because… it is vital to my mental health.

Three years ago I hit rock bottom, I was inactive, obese and suicidal. In the previous two years I had seen my dad lose his battle with lung cancer, tragically found my mother-in-law after she had suddenly passed away and then became care-giver for my Mum as she started her own battle with cancer. My tank was empty and I was using food to fill me both literally and figuratively.

My weight ballooned to 105kg and my struggle with depression and anxiety was becoming too hard to hide. Yet it was a piece of toast that changed my life - yes you heard right, a piece of toast. I was laying in what seemed to be my permanent position on the couch when my then four year old son walked into the kitchen, grabbed a chair and proceeded to make himself some toast. I sat and stared at this little boy and realised I had spent the last two years in such a fog that I had missed him growing up.

That was when I knew things needed to shift. I knew that it would be hard and that it would require me to make some drastic changes but I knew I had to do it. I surrounded myself with supportive, knowledgeable people that could help me on my journey back to health. One of those people is a trainer offering ladies-only boot camps. I remember sitting in my car on the first day trying desperately to ward off a panic attack. Nevertheless I got out of the car and did it. While it hurt and I had wanted to quit many times, it become the best anti-depressant for me.

I loved how exercise made me feel - like I was alive - and after being numb for so long, it was amazing. I wasn’t focused on losing weight, I was focused on being healthy as a whole, in body and mind. The weight did shift though and after 18 months, 30 kgs lighter, I received a miracle – a long awaited plus sign on my pregnancy test. Due to a high risk pregnancy my fitness journey was put on hold. In July my bub arrived via an emergency c-section but shortly after his arrival I suffered a rare reaction to the anaesthesia and ended up in a coma fighting for my life. With only a 30% chance of survival things didn't look great, but miraculously I awoke from the coma. However, I discovered I had suffered some partial paralysis and had no movement in my right leg. It was a scary time but with physiotherapy and hard work my movement returned.

The last 12 months in particular have really been a journey of self-discovery. I am now trying to find a balanced lifestyle that nurtures both my body and mind. My depression and anxiety will always be something that I have to manage but knowing that when I stay active I feel so much better about myself and the world around me, it gives me a way of staying on top of it.

My advice to anyone that may be suffering from either depression or anxiety is to first surround yourself with people that have the tools to help you and to find something physical that you love to do. It could be walking along the beach, dancing your way through a Zumba class or getting in the gym and lifting heavy stuff. Take the time to try different things and discover what fills you with joy and makes both your body and mind feel fantastic!

If you’re interested in finding out more about different activities you could try or are looking for some inspiration to get active – “follow” us on Facebook or watch the Join the Movement Campaign Video here: https://www.facebook.com/StartPlayingStayPlaying/videos/1723517007903784

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