This week is Mental Health Awareness Week.
Today a member of our community, 19-year-old Alys Gibbs, a former competitive gymnast and now coach from Somersault Gymnastics Club in Cardiff, bravely shares the story of her own battle.
Alys is sharing her story in the hope of raising awareness and to also encourage anyone struggling to talk to someone.
Do not suffer in silence. You are not alone.
So here is Alys, as told in her own words...
As a 19-year-old, these past few months have been some of the hardest times in my life so far.
Recently, I have been suffering with a form of OCD and anxiety, facing constant negativity in my head. It’s so hard to pull yourself out of such a dark place.
Only I knew what was really going on, and still do, which was the hardest part. It is so hard to describe to someone how you are feeling, it’s not always just feeling down, it is so much more than that.
The constant worries and anxiety in my head were unanswerable by anyone.
So many days where I didn’t get any sleep, I physically couldn’t move off the sofa, and days where I had no idea how I was going to make it through the week. Days where I didn’t care about anything anymore, which is heartbreaking to feel when you used to be so motivated.
I wanted to care, I just physically couldn’t.
I finally got help from a therapist, family and friends. Journaling my thoughts was a way to keep my thoughts present, and enabled me to take each day as it came.
Allowing your thoughts to be there is so important, or they get worse. Trying to resist your thoughts only makes them stick around for longer.
Currently, I am in university, it has been a huge challenge to keep on top of my work. I am currently writing my dissertation proposal on the impact gymnastics has on children.
Finding solace in gymnastics
Gymnastics has always been a huge part of my life. I started gymnastics when I was 4 at Somersault Gymnastics and trained until I was 16. I competed at Sport Wales many times, and even got the opportunity to compete in Malta.
I then went onto coaching, and I have been passionate about it ever since. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do my judging and coaching courses with the support of Sally Wink.
Gymnastics has helped me so much through this hard time, it has given me a focus and a purpose, I feel so lucky to be able to call my passion, my job.
I am fortunate enough to be part of a club where well-being is at the heart of the club, everyone is so supportive.
I coach a group of women’s artistic girls, who have been incredible, I don’t know if I’d have been able to start to get through this without them.
Not only do I want to help them succeed in gymnastics, but I want to be there to listen to them, support them and encourage them.
I’m writing this hoping I can help even one person, as I know how tough these past few months have been.
To anyone reading this and suffering themselves, I know people tell you, and it’s hard to believe, but it WILL get better.