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Two Things Saved My Life

In 2018 a seemingly straightforward surgery changed my life forever.

Prior to that I had a great career as a veterinary nurse, I had an active social life and a lovely partner, life was good. I knew about depression and anxiety but naively thought I’d never struggle because I had a great life and nothing to be sad about!

After my surgery I was sent home and signed off work for 4 weeks to recover, it was during this time that I started to get irrationally worried about leaving the house, at first I didn’t really recognise it was a problem but as the days turned into weeks and the prospect of stepping out of my door gave me crushing chest pain I realised I needed to do something.

So I did! I reached out! I visited well known websites only to find self help leaflets, that didn’t help.

I went to the GP….. and was sent away with a prescription for medication, a place on a very very very long waitlist for counselling and despite my initial complaint being that I was to anxious to leave the house I left with the recommendation to “get out for walks’ or “join a gym”. Both seemingly impossible without a huge amount of support that I didn’t have.

So I went home, and I got worse. Then I started to feel down, I couldn’t go back to work, I stopped seeing my friends, my only form of income was SSP at £70 a week, I was facing the prospect of losing my house and my job. Anxiety’s favourite companion Depression had now also taken residence in my head.

I remember sitting there one night wondering how I’d ended up here and unable to see anyway of getting out of the hole I was slipping further and further into. I’d failed and the easiest was out was just to end it.

Two things saved my life.

I was privileged enough to have an aunt who paid for private counselling for me.

I was given free PT sessions in my local CrossFit gym.

So 4 times a week I had to leave the house. 3x to go to the gym, and once to go to counselling. And slowly but surely I got better. The endorphins and community of the gym was the best part of my week and the counselling helped me process why I was struggling and learn coping mechanisms.

I recovered and life was back on track.

Then In 2019 an old friend from college killed himself seemingly out of the blue. it really shook me, that could so easily have been me. My privilege saved me.

I realised that there are hundreds and thousands of people out there who didn’t have the support I had. And they are dying.

So in 2019 I founded Bridging the Gap, Mind Matters to ensure that any one who reaches out for support has access to services.

We now run a 6 week respite program that provides counselling and exercise sessions for those who need it.

We started by delivering sessions from the same gym that I started in and are slowly but surely recruiting gyms and fitness communities all over the U.K.

Exercise is good for mental health, but it’s not just as simple as taking a walk going to the gym alone.

We recognise the importance of community based gyms and how they are so much more than just gyms. They are safe spaces, communities, havens, they are therapy.

When combined with counselling and appropriate medication the results are incomparable.

One of the most notable differences between BTG’s services and the options already available is the accessibility.

There is no minimum entry requirement. Many services offered require a person to be very ill before offering meaningful treatment.

We strongly believe in bridging the gap in healthcare before someone falls down into the pits of mental illness, coming back from that place is hard.

Our services don’t require a GP referral, are affordable health care, and we don’t operate a waitlist.

We rely heavily on fundraising events to make our services accessible and continue saving lives. If you have a fundraising event this year please consider BTG as your charity of choice.

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