Challenging depression, Rocky style
Posted Tuesday 13 November 2012
Every single muscle in my body aches. If I extend my arm, I hurt. Bend down or turn my head? Ouch. Last week I did 11 training sessions (twice a day Monday–Friday and once on Saturday) in The Third Space, a fitness and health centre in Soho, and my schedule was pretty much the same the week before, and before that.
I’m training for a ‘white collar’ boxing fight in York Hall, Bethnal Green, on 16 November.
However, less than two months ago I had never stood in a ring and boxed against another person. Now my regime includes sprinting, weights and general bodyweight conditioning drills. It also involves hitting pads, punchbags and real people. I’m ‘sparring’ (practising in the ring with headguards, mouthguards and gloves) at least four or five times a week. It almost feels natural. Almost…
Why the sudden transformation? I was fit before, and a huge believer in the positive power of physical exercise over the mind. But, however fit one is, to prepare for a boxing fight in just 8 weeks is not entirely sensible.
So why take things to such extremes? I suppose it’s always been my way – just as extreme lows have been a part of my life since I was very young it seemed fairly natural, to choose something tough, intense, and quite frankly controversial to tackle in aid of Mind. Because until I signed up to box, the biggest fight of my life has been one that’s taken place against myself.
It started when I was eight years old. Sometimes it’s taken a relatively recognisable form, like depression or addiction, and other times it’s been more of a dark and all-pervasive melancholy. But over the last few years I've had a lot of help to overcome some of the root causes, and I feel that now might be a good time to give a little back. Of course, the irony of getting knocked in the head in aid of a mental health charity isn't lost on me. Yet I don’t think it entirely inappropriate to marry this cause with this challenge either.
Because boxing isn't all about violence (this much I know already): it’s about fighting your demons as much as your opponent; about harnessing fear, doubt and anxiety, turning them into courage, determination and stillness; about learning when to play it safe, when to take a risk and, sometimes, when to just take your head out of the action. And, most of all, fight training is about taking a journey and trusting you’ll come out the other side. Now if that isn't relevant to mental illness, then I don’t know what is.
If you’d like to sponsor Lucy to fight for Mind then please visit www.justgiving.com/frylucy
If you’d like to watch Lucy fight, email email@example.com with ticket requests
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