I was saddened to hear about Robin Williams…

Robin WilliamsI’m a night owl and I was still awake last night when I heard the very sad news that Robin Williams had died.

My initial reaction was that it must be some horrible Internet joke – you do get them unfortunately.

But I checked the source and it was genuine and it was confirmed later. I was stunned.

‘A suspected suicide arising from severe depression.’ But wasn’t he a happy, fun-loving guy who made everyone laugh? Well, yes but just how do we know what lies beneath each one of us?

We can’t judge people and we can’t tell people to “Get over it” or “Cheer up and pull yourself together” when they seem down.

I mean, if you’ve just lost a tenner on a losing horse, you probably would seem pretty down but it’s a short-lived feeling. Unless you’ve experienced depression personally, you’re not really in a position to tell people to “Get over it”.

When I was 19, I suffered depression. How do I know it was depression rather than just anxiety? Well, I would compare my depression to what I imagine being stuck down a 20-foot hole in the ground would feel like, where the wall is muddy and you can’t climb up and there is nobody at the top to help pull you out.

You feel helpless and nobody is listening. My mother used to tell me to “Cheer up”. To be fair, in reflection, she didn’t know what was going on in my head.

You don’t know where to turn for help. You feel threatened by life itself. You feel like you have every physical illness in the book.

I visited my GP twice – he twice told me I had no physical symptoms. I wasn’t convinced because my throat was tightening, my heart seemed like it was pounding, my head was spinning. He must have been wrong so I visited a GP in York (when I went to see a friend). The same conclusion.

If a GP couldn’t help me and my family weren’t listening, who could I turn to?

Thoughts are very powerful things. When they are positive, life is great and your future is promising. However, when they are negative, life is grim and your future is unclear.

So depression set in when I was just 19. I was a mess mentally and physically (even though I was passed fit). When you have depression, you contemplate everything in life and those contemplations can lead to more serious questions. What was going to stop me from jumping from a bridge or taking a load of tablets?

I thought I had found my solution when I picked up a leaflet with words similar to “Have you or are you suffering from depression?” It seemed to be a sign. It was Scientology. I visited the Scientology centre in Sunderland for a few weeks and it actually compounded my negativity – rather than finding a solution. It was the most awful few weeks of my life. I won’t go into detail but it made things ten times worse.

Luckily for me, a friend pulled me away from Scientology (I’m so grateful for that) and then I met a lovely guy who introduced me to Transcendental Meditation or TM for short. He told me it had changed his life. I was desperate so I went along to a TM course.

About 2 weeks later, I was a changed person. Everything had changed. There were no physical symptoms (or imagined physical symptoms), no negative thoughts, no anxiety. It was (bloody) fantastic. My mind and body were working in harmony for the first time in ages. I felt great and the future was once again promising.

As for Robin Williams, he just didn’t find his TM or his version of it. I feel very sad that he didn’t find a solution. In fact, it is tragic for such a fun-loving guy who brought so much joy.

Years after my ‘illness’, I set up my own business. When trying to name my business, I spent days trying to find that elusive name. Eventually, I came up with ‘Body and Mind Fitness’ – it seemed to make sense and fit with aspects of my life. I added the word ‘Company’ to make it sound official!

In my view, a healthy mind equals a healthy body. You must start with your mindset. If you don’t have a positive outlook and have positive thoughts, your physical state will suffer. I believe many illnesses start in the mind.

As you know, these days I help people with their health and fitness. It’s what I believe my passion to be. I love to see results. I love to see people change their mindset when it comes to exercise. I love to see people change their physical state.

We all have it in us to change. We just have to find the right solution.

We can change our mindset.

We can change our physical state.

We can be motivated and driven.

I’m here if you need help with your health and fitness.

For Robin Williams, it’s too late and my deepest sympathies are with his family at this sad time.