Craig’s story

Craig struggled with depression after being diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

I used to think I was indestructible, going to the gym a couple of times a week and playing 7-a-side on a Sunday. Being fit and active was no bother until one Sunday I dived to make a save on the pitch and damaged my hand. At the time I didn’t know the damage I had caused.

I was later diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) caused by my injury. This is when everything started to spin out of control. I struggled to picture my future, and I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Exercise seemed out of the question and as a result, I put on quite a bit of weight.

Unable to play football and get active the way I was used to whilst trying to manage my physical pain; I started to feel suicidal and was later diagnosed with depression at 21.

Depression crept in, and I did not know where to turn. My doctor suggested I try to get active again in some way. I was put in touch with SAMH’s ALBA (Active Living Becomes Achievable) project and this is where my recovery really started.

My disability at times stopped me from doing physical activity, so I knew that going back to the gym would be a challenge. Little did I know how beneficial exercise would be on my mental health.

Through walking and going to the gym, I was able to set and achieve my goals giving me great focus and motivation. When I walked, that deep feeling of anxiety slowly lifted.

At first, I thought I would be judged at the gym, and this initially stopped me from getting back into physical activity. I struggled with anxiety, thinking that all the eyes were on me rather than people actually getting on with exercise.

The best person at the gym that broke down the barriers and stigma was an instructor called Craig. He reassured me that even though I had a physical disability there were still machines and exercises that I could do. Slowly, week after week I started feeling my mood lifting after each session. 

The reassurance and support I received from my gym gave me such confidence to keep going.

Scotland’s Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport Charter aims to improve equality and reduce discrimination, ensuring mental health is not a barrier to engaging, participating and achieving in physical activity and sport. Learn more about the Charter here.