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Depression, Rugby and Me

Here’s something important to know about me: I’m mentally ill. I can’t talk around it because by nature it affects everything about my day to day life and personality. This is my reality.

At one point last winter, I remember I had yet to make it out of bed by about 3pm. On some level I really wanted to keep up with the fitness the club recommended, but on another the idea of going to the gym involved so many steps and so much energy it seemed an insurmountable goal. My brain had also been playing a loop of self-hatred centred around the fact I’d missed training for the last week before term's end. I felt like I’d been skiving, that I was a worthless flake of a team member, and that everyone surely thought of me as a burden and hated me too. (In reality I know nothing could be further from the truth, even had members of our club express the exact opposite to me; at the time I didn’t believe it.)

I’d left my sports bra next to my bed in a somewhat desperate bid to motivate myself. I could put that on. That was just one step.

The club had made the next step a lot easier, by providing documents of home workouts. I could tell myself, just do the first step of the first workout and even then you can put it on the fitness spreadsheet. I could be a tiny bit proud of myself. My club could be a tiny bit proud of me.

I could do 10 press ups in bed.

If I could manage that, I could do another 10. If I could do that, maybe I could get out of bed and do 20 squats. Put on the rest of my workout clothes. Finish the workout. Actually feel excited for having accomplished something! It didn’t even matter that I’d been frustrated to tears by my lack of motivation at one point. The difference between how I felt on that day and how I’d felt two years ago without the motivation of UYWRUFC was enormous.

Rather than starting a negative spiral of being so apathetic I did nothing all day, and berating myself for it the next, I began a positive spiral. Over the past year with the help of rugby in my life I’ve gone from exercising maybe once a week to at least six times. I’ve nearly doubled my deadlift in the past eight weeks. I’ve learned to trick my brain into exercising, which in turn makes the next bit of life easier to accomplish (thank you endorphins!). Sometimes I still don’t make it out the door to training, just like an athlete rehabbing an old injury. But I know I’m welcome when I’m well enough to go, and I know I’ve got my home workouts in the meantime.

Depression had convinced me that I am worthless, but rugby convinced me I have worth. Even if just for a couple of hours a week, on that pitch, during that match, I have worth to 14 other women. Any pass I’m in space to receive or ruck I help contest, I have worth. Any smile I share over a tough drill at training has worth. And I’m still not okay. But rugby is going to help me get there.

If anything in this blog post has affected you, please see our welfare page for more information on services and people to contact.

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