Personal Stories – Lauren

When I was at school I played several sports to a county standard and at the age of 18 I was awarded a scholarship to the USA. Unfortunately, before taking up my scholarship, I suffered an injury that prevented me from moving to the States. Whilst the injury would not have affected me reaching my potential from a physical point of view, mentally it was a devastating blow. I suffered depression, anxiety and begun to self-harm as a result. I lost all confidence in myself and found socialising increasingly difficult. I went along to various self-help groups and counselling sessions, but they weren’t really for me.

I desperately wanted to play sport again, but I didn’t have the confidence to go along to a sports club… I mean, how could I with all the scars on my arms and legs? What would people think of me? When I found out about a sports group for people with mental health problems I was so excited – I could play sport without people looking at me and judging me because of my scars. Although I was excited about the idea of playing sport again I was still really scared about going along… I mean, the idea of meeting new people was terrifying.

For nearly a month I planned to go along to a session, but the anxiety always got the better of me. Eventually I pushed myself to go, taking a friend along for support. Everything went superbly! Okay, I didn’t talk to anyone at that first session, but I made it along which in itself was fantastic achievement. Over the next couple of months I attended as many sessions as I could, often with my friend, but sometimes on my own. I even started talking to people! To most people that might not seem like a massive deal, but to me it was a huge step in my recovery. I attended regular sessions for over a year, stopped self-harming, built up enough confidence to join a mainstream hockey team and even managed to find myself a full-time job.

Being given the opportunity to play sport when I was mentally unwell provided me with the chance to feel ‘normal’ again and gave me the motivation to get up in the mornings. Sport has always been my passion, but until I joined Sport in Mind I had never really considered that sport could be used in such a positive way to help people affected by mental illness. Thank you to everyone for their support.