Saira's Story: Exercising to Manage Depression and Physical Pain

"I am an unemployed single mum of one. I have suffered with back and shoulder problems for nearly 10 years, from a couple of years before becoming pregnant with my daughter."

"A year after giving birth, my physical health deteriorated dramatically when I developed a chronic pain in my left foot, for which I was given an unsuccessful steroid injection.

This was the beginning of around three years of chronic pain in my left foot, ankle and knee where my whole left leg felt like a dead limb but immensely painful, making having a good night's sleep impossible.

In pain and desperation I started seeking alternative therapies and discovered a good acupuncture practitioner who made the first ever positive difference to the pain. 

Apart from relying on the short term alleviation from some problems that acupuncture was effective in treating, I also exercised as much as I could manage, going to the gym, Pilates and yoga classes to try and get my aching muscles and joints back to health.

I also began cycling with my daughter strapped into a child seat on the back, which was a lot less painful than pushing a buggy around but gave people a strange impression of my condition.

Even close friends and my partner felt I was in much better health than I really was and parents at my daughter's school would often call me super fit mum and were envious of my healthy 'lifestyle'.

My health problems put a strain on my relationship and ultimately caused it to end, which brought with it a string of emotional and financial difficulties.

Today my foot has fully recovered and, although I still suffer with periods of depression, I would never allow myself to get to a stage where I would need to rely on antidepressants. I cope by continuing to go to the gym, swimming regularly and cycling (when it is not too cold!)

Acupuncture mainly keeps the worst physical symptoms at bay and being active helps keep me mentally strong and healthy to tackle life with its many ups and downs.

Having battled with physical ill health, I am even more passionate about keeping on top of my mental health through exercise as I feel it is crucial for me to remain mentally fit both for my daughter and for myself."

Find out more about:

Depression

Exercise and Mental Health

Medication

Sleep

Mental Health Awareness Week 2013: Let's Get Phsyical