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#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

Mental Health, Food & Exercise – a frank account

Donna works with i-motion gym and has seen the benefits to social and physical wellbeing that being in such an environment can bring. This #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek she wanted to share her story with you to show why she believes it is so important.

“I never expected to lose my husband at the age of 31, nothing can ever prepare you for that. Lots of things went through my head from ending my life to join him to becoming a nun! It really is funny what you think at that time when something so big happens! Even though I was active, being a semi-professional dancer at the time, the last thing I was thinking about was taking care of myself and that included what I was eating.

I lived on crumpets for at least 6 weeks as I worked through arranging the funeral and trying to understand my world going forward. When I finally went home, and eventually back to work, I spent my days going to work and then coming home and sitting in my bedroom and visiting my husbands grave, I even went 8 times in one day. I lived on junk food and ate only to keep going, because I was at rock bottom I didn’t see what I was doing and really didn’t care.

Slowly over time I came to eat what I perceived as more healthily and even do some small forms of exercise. I thought I was leading quite a healthy lifestyle and began to feel better mentally. I talked to people and opened up which allowed me to see where my life could go.

It was only when I fast-forwarded 8 years that I realized my diet wasn’t so good, I was to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. If I had have had this diagnosis any earlier I don’t know how I would have dealt with it, but I now, having found new mental solidity and goals in life, was ready to take it head on!

From that moment I became even more aware of what I was eating, I looked at nutritional content and began to understand what was really in my food. I cut out some things, although I still have a treat! I started to take up dance, zumba and do some cardio-work, I began to feel even better mentally. My focus and drive prevailed and I felt confident in myself and my ability to take on challenges. 18 months on and I have now reversed the diabetes and lost 2.5 stones (and counting!) and am looking forward to my next challenge.

Looking back one thing is clear, mental health can affect anyone. It could be a major, life-changing blow or a series of small events or continual stress, it doesn’t matter; what is important is that you open up and talk about it. My advice to people would be to set yourself goals, footsteps and move towards them, eating well and being active allows us to deal with stress more effectively so look after yourself no matter what is going on.”

I hope my account helps you in some way, remember mental health affects 1 in 4 people, if you need help speak to someone. There are some great support structures out there like the Samaritans, Mind.org or your local GP. Just make sure you talk, and look after yourself. “

Donna Plumbley

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