Before coming along to The Changing Room, Ian had barely left the house in almost three years. Both his mental health and physical health have improved significantly since then, and he’s now attending The Changing Room Extra Time so that he can continue to build on the progress he’s made so far.
“It wasn’t just one thing, everything sort of just snowballed. My dad died, I got diagnosed with cancer, my second child was stillborn, and my partner and I split up. So when COVID hit, it just tipped me over the edge.”
The cancer made Ian at higher risk of coronavirus, so he couldn’t leave the house, couldn’t see his mum or his son, and couldn’t work. Over time he lost touch with his friends, and rarely saw or spoke to anyone.
Then his brother recommended The Changing Room, a men’s mental health group running at Rangers Football Club.
“It was quite daunting, going along to the first session. I didn’t know how people would be before I got there. I went to the Team Talk first to find out a bit more, then from there, signed up to the 12-week programme.
“I sat in silence for the first four or five weeks, just listening. I couldn’t believe how many people were in the same position as me.
“The Changing Room has given me the confidence to talk about how I’m feeling, and I’m in a much better place now. I recognise that I can only be in charge of the things I have control over. If I can’t change it, I need to accept that.
“I’m now going to The Changing Room Extra Time to take what I’ve learned and expand on it. It’s helping to get me into a more positive way of thinking – changing from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’t right now, but maybe I can in future.’ I think that’s important, or you’ll stay stagnant. I know I’ll have ups and downs, but it’s all about that positivity – I’ve done it before, I am strong enough.
“I’m taking part in Walking Football now too, I go every week and didn’t realise how big an impact it would have – I’ve lost three stone, and am eating better. Before The Changing Room, I just thought, nobody is seeing me anyway, so it doesn’t matter.
“The best thing has been getting to know the other boys there, and seeing the change in them. Extra Time is on fortnightly, but we still meet up in the weeks it’s not running. They’re a great group of guys, and we would never have been friends otherwise.
“My message to anyone who’s struggling with their mental health at the moment is to reach out – that first step is always the hardest, but it’s an upward trajectory from there.
“The Changing Room has made me realise that I can do anything I set my mind to, even if there are set-backs, mentally or physically, along the way.”