Healing Through Sport- Ally's Story Part 3

Sport also helped. Though, I knew something was seriously wrong when my usual flow on the sports-field was interrupted by a churning mind. Sport has always been sanctuary for me, but sidelined when I imprisoned my self at home. This is the harsh modulation of the beast: your thought patterns are unpleasant and corrosive, your mood changes, your behaviour changes, and suddenly you are no longer practising the things that made you happy and that you loved to do in normal, everyday life. Rejoining a sense of normality -once again doing the things I loved to do - was a very important step. In this sense, this process is not just restricted to sport. Sport (and exercise) helps chemically, too - the injection of endorphins restores balance to the skewed chemistry of the brain. It is also, I see,  now, another mindful practice, an escape. Anyone who plays sport will be aware of the incredible feeling of the flowing moment: when you’ve managed to glide from the halfway line to top of the box and bag a goal in the top right corner - you didn’t think about it, it just happened. It is spiritual - and by that I mean not of the self, the ego is lost and you are left with an unblemished moment. I have recently read a very inspiring article of various people’s journey of recovery from their mental health issues through running, citing much of what I have just mentioned - a dynamic meditation, a sense of accomplishment and the positive chemicals associated with this, giving their mind a break and working out the body. Largely, though, sport provides family and community and a common language. So often sport is an inclusive conduit that unites us, bringing together creeds and skin-colours toward common goals, literal and figurative. There are so many examples of this. Personally, in my travels across the world, a nod of the head is all that has been required to join in with sport and be a be a part of something. Most recently, I have found this within the CrossFit community in Auckland, New Zealand. JCADE has the ability to draw on the immense depth of the sporting family and harness a culture of openness and honesty, starting more conversations, that are not easily had, particularly among men, around the inner struggles faced in, but not restricted to, sport. Kudos to Danny Rose in speaking out about his depression during England’s world cup campaign. This is a big step and one that, no doubt, will have helped others in the game and beyond. 

Ally Gill

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