Sunday, 1 May 2016

'MEN'tal Health & Fitness


this post is in light of depression awareness week which ran from 18th-24th of april, and mental health awareness week which will run from 16th-22nd of may

so this month has been abit of an emotional one for me. not the emotions of crying (maybe emotional is the wrong word to use), but emotion in regards to my outlook on life due to other peoples life experiences

here im going to give you a few examples of my recent encounters...

so the other day i got speaking to a guy in the changing rooms at my gym. we were talking about kids these days, as some kids who were going swimming were in the changing rooms mucking around. i was saying how nowadays you have to treat these kids as your age coz that's the only way they'll listen. i then asked if he had any kids himself and he mentioned that the day after would mark 2 years since his baby daughter died...yeh i know, arghhhh!!!!!

i didn't even have the words to say to him but all i could do was apologise for his loss. he explained how he used to be a real gym enthusiast before, but ever since his daughter died he's simply just passing through life depressed. i told him that if he did need anything in the gym whether it be a programme, guidance, a free session, someone to talk to etc he should feel free to get at me



had another gentleman who came to the gym asking how to go about joining. i went through the options with him and asked if he had been a member of a gym before. he replied with laughter "i used to be bigger than you mate", as he proceeded to show me pics of his quite impressive physique from last year. he then said how he recently went through a divorce and that his wife took his kids away from him. tears then started to fill his eyes as he began explaining how his kids are his world, & how he cries himself to sleep most nights. said he feels himself losing the plot & getting depressed if he doesn't get out the house, & with the gym being round the corner he thought why not join to try get his mind off of things



the last encounter i had was kind of the nail on the head for me. through speaking to this man during a consultation he said how he notices how i carry myself around the gym and that everyone seems to take a liking towards me...said its a good look & that i should enjoy every moment in life

he then said how he had been a millionaire twice. i laughed it off as i thought he was just joking, but then he showed me pictures of his previous life. when i tell you he had cars, money, women, drugs hauls, yachts, mansions...he literally had it all, lost it, had it all again, and now he's left with nothing. in the process of the lifestyle, and admittedly through his own negligence, he had contracted aids. when i asked him how he manages to have such a calm demeanour about him, he said how he has been through every stage of depression there is possible and now he's literally numb to everything there is

quite surreal that even as i was drafting this up, i heard of tiwa savage's husbands suicide attempt (for those who know). regardless of the goings on in their marriage, anyones mental state must be questioned if they ever put themselves in a position where they would attempt to take their own life



as for myself and without going into any real detail, i can honestly say i have experienced being in a very bad mental space...the worse being about 2 years ago. at the time i had a few people ask me if i was depressed and looking back now i can honestly say that yes i went through depression, but i hid it so well you wouldn't believe. i think the only people who would have noticed that something was odd with me are my friends who may have seen a change in me, the few people i tried to confide in or anyone who tried to get to know me but didn't get let in



not sure how i even got out of it as i never ever sought proper help from anyone and i kinda just dealt with it myself, but believe me when i say that when it was real bad it was one of the worst internal feelings ever. all now my own family & some of my friends didn't/don't even know...im actually dreading for my sisters to read this and think that their own brother was able to live under the same roof as them and i didn't even try reach out to them

now the thing with depression is that it takes that little bit of you away from you which you might not be able to quite get back, especially if you dont deal with it head on

for me i developed a very bad habit of being cold, shut off from my emotions & periods where id just switch off from everyone and anything...hard to believe coming from me init, but those who know me know. i even used to book out apartments/hotels for the weekend and literally just go there and chill alone, just to get some head space

i remember one time at my worst i was thinking to myself "michael what the f*ck is going on with you"...& then i just started crying. crazy that throughout my whole ordeal and up until now that was the one & only time i actually broke down

even recently (well last year) when we found out my dad had prostate cancer i was thinking arghhh for f*ck sake, and that cloud feeling of depression slowly came back again...but i didn't cry, and this is what i believe to be my emotional blockage as if im honest i was kind of numb to hearing the news

now there's a few common denominators here which can be drawn from the examples ive given above

1. all the experiences i listed have been of males


2. they had all experienced depression of some sort yet none had sought proper advice/help for it

3. i met them all in a gym/fitness environment (obviously apart from tiwa savages husband)


4. four of the examples mentioned were black males

depression & mental health is one of the ultimate stigmas amongst men, especially black men. it was only because i had spoken to these men that they had told me about their depression and their current head space, but had it not been for the conversion in a gym they may never have opened upto another man about something that is not considered "manly". a stigma exposing a mans weakness which men ultimately fear



even with me, yeh i can look back and say i went through depression...but at the time i was sort of in denial/didn't actually know why i was feeling how i was feeling. i was thinking "big man like me & im feeling like this" 

even the few who i confided in were all females as i didn't attempt to try speak to another guy about how i was feeling. infact i remember i tried speak to my boy about how i was feeling and i remember him saying "bruv, are you a d*ckhead. you sound like some chick man. go get some sex & come off that talk"...now you see why its a stigma for guys to try open up

tbh i didn't even care for girls at the time as i didn't have anything to offer, so for me i even found it pointless tryna date anyone. tika sumpter and amber rose could have asked me to spoon them & i would have easily said no...well maybe not those 2 actually but you get my drift lol


as someone mentioned in my comments on instagram, an article showed that black men suffer the most as it is common for a white man to seek counselling and get help. whereas as a "black man" you're suppose to be strong, hard, tougher than tough, a "bad man" etc. we arent "suppose" to talk about our feelings or show any weak emotions which, when left hidden behind closed doors, can lead to a very bad head space & ultimately depression

even when i googled "male depression" to get images for this blog, the only images depicted were of white men...i had to search "black man depression" to find pics of black men, & even then the results were scarce


what i can say however is that health & fitness kept me on the straight and narrow

the fact that i work in a gym and had to interact with people on a day to day basis meant i had to hide whatever and keep up face



the fact that i had my brand "bigboatstrainingroom" meant i had to stay on top of my sh*t as this is ultimately whats made me who i am today



the fact that these MEN had all came into the gym to renew their minds and focus, shows the power and strength of fitness

a healthy body will provide you with the steps towards a healthy mind, a healthy spirit and ultimately a healthy life

your mental health is just about the only thing you can have control over

and no im not saying keeping fit or exercising is the only way to battle through...but it definitely is one of the ways


hopefully anyone reading this can relate as i know not many people (especially guys) will openly speak out about feeling depressed/being depressed, as one thing i kind of do regret is not seeking help/advice sooner


i single handedly dealt with depression alone and is a very very scary lonely place. i put myself in a position where i only had myself to answer to. i only saw things one way and that was my way. my mind only challenged itself as i didn't let anyone else in. i became extremely independent and relied on no-one as i was thinking nobody can actually make me feel any better

such an experience has given me some stubborn traits i cant seem to quite shake off, and all becoz i dealt with it alone
but from my experience of these encounters in the gym, guys speaking to another guy really does encourage men to be more open about it, and in one of the cases caused a grown man to cry in front of me 

now thats a definition of real man

oh & ladies if a guy shows an interest in you but at times is being cold & emotionless, don't just think he's being a f*ck boy and doesn't care...sometimes its alot deeper than that


thank you for all reading



Big Boat