“I’ve been suffering from depression for a few years now and though it’s been manageable with medication and support from people around me, there’s rarely been a time when I have felt in complete control of it.
Like a lot of people with long-term illness, I have good days and bad: my medication usually works but there are times when I feel really low.
My depression leaves me feeling physically and mentally exhausted and it is only with wonderful support from my family, friends and work that I have been able to cope.
As a lifelong Rugby League fan, I was really interested to hear more when my daughter, who had been involved in ‘Fit to Tackle’ at Warrington Wolves, said the club was getting involved in a new men’s fitness project called Offload.
I’d heard nothing but good things about Rugby League Cares and knew a bit about the great work that State of Mind do, and after speaking to James Howes at Warrington I signed up straight away.
That was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Offload has made a huge difference to my life, it’s been inspirational and given me new coping mechanisms to deal with my illness and live my life to the full.
The ‘fixtures’ on Tuesday nights have been the highlight of my week and I know from speaking to the other men at the sessions that I’m not alone: we all love it and have benefited immensely.
People can contribute or get involved as much as they like: some people are happy to talk openly about their situation whilst others like to sit back and listen.
The presentations from people like (former Super League referee) Ian Smith, Phil Veivers, Paul Highton and Jimmy Gittins, who have all spoke about their own coping mechanisms, have been brilliant. The professionalism of James Howes has been exemplary.
In my working career, I have attended a lot of seminars and courses down the years but Offload is by far the best. It’s a revelation, especially when you consider the project is in its infancy.
It’s shown me that depression affects people on so many different levels and that it is possible not to let it control your life.
The big first step is having the confidence to be able to speak to someone about it: I’m fortunate in that I know my family and friends are there for me but there are people who feel they don’t have anyone.
Offload is a great way to begin to tackle depression or, for people like me, to better handle the illness.
All the team members look forward to the Offload fixture every Tuesday: we have learned so much about ourselves and each other through the power of Rugby League.
It’s been an absolute pleasure to be involved and I hope it becomes a permanent fixture across the whole sport.”