I stared down at my dad laying motionless in his hospital bed the machines keeping him pain free beeping beside me, his laboured breathing suddenly stopped I checked his neck for a pulse but there wasn’t one, I reached up and calmly pulled the red emergency cord the alarm sounded; 3 nurses rushed into our curtained off area, the nurse nearest my dad reached down to check his vitals and confirmed what I already knew my Dad was dead.

I sat with him for an hour and a half until the orderlies took his body to the morgue. I then left the ward, thanked the staff for all their hard work and support on the way out and walked to my car. I wiped the dried tears from my eyes and drove straight to the gym and had one of the best fucking workouts I’ve ever had...

Working out has always been a tremendous leveller for me. If everything is rosy, the sun is shining and birds are singing pumping iron simply adds to the positivity but, when life seems to be crashing down around me and all seemed lost that is when the fitness lifestyle saved my life.

My parents dying, break-ups with girlfriends, redundancy, bullying at school, the list goes on. The gym has been like shining beacon in the dark night. I enter downtrodden, head cloudy, over thinking, angry, emotional but, as soon as I feel the sharp rough knurling of a cold Olympic bar, the sweat trickling down my back, a skin stretching pump it’s like I’ve been baptised, I leave the arena of pain and perspiration a new man.

Science tells us that when we exercise your body creates chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain and also as a massive bonus gives you a feeling of euphoria. There isn’t a therapist on the planet who would recommend going to war with yourself every night but maaaaaan it feels good!!

5 years ago my mum had just died, my personal training business was failing and love life was a mess. Long story short; life spiralled out of control and before I knew it I was at my GP getting a prescription for antidepressants.
The diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines a major depressive episode as-at least two weeks of a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities as well as at least five other symptoms such as:

- Sleep issues on an almost daily basis (either difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much)

- Changes in appetite and weight (change of more than 5 percent body weight in a month) or a decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.

- Decreased energy or fatigue almost every day.

- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions and thinking clearly.

- Agitation or dawdling that is observable by others

- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan for suicide.

The trouble is, in the world of bodybuilding and fitness its about macho ‘show no weakness’ bravado, alpha males displaying Herculean feats of strength on a daily basis everywhere from your local gym to social media. It’s this stigma that delayed me in getting the help I needed. The outdated and frankly dangerous thinking of ‘just man up’ - my own dad who was old school couldn’t fathom why his 18 stone muscular son needed to be medicated for (in his words) “being glum”. People who are depressed are not feeble or weak, they are unwell and they need help and support.
In the UK approximately 7.8 people in every 100 suffer with mixed anxiety and depression (statistic from mind.org)
20.6 people in every 100 have suicidal thoughts, which is shocking!!!

If you think you or someone you know is suffering with depression there is an array of fantastic organisations on hand to help. For me my GP was awesome, she listened, guided me through the medication she was prescribing me, explained to me how it worked and give me the contact details of the groups below.

- Depression UK: 020 7403 0888
- Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90
- MIND:0845 766 0163
- Sane: 0845 767 8000
- The Depression Alliance: 0845 123 23 20

Depression can literally be a killer and something that no-one should have to go through alone. One love.