AC Coach - Guest Blog Mental Health - 1 A Brief History

Hello, and welcome to the ADAM COPLEY: COACHING blog in partnership with TOTAL MTB. This will be a 4-chapter series covering mental health, and the importance of the outdoors in relation to this. Over the next four weeks I will be covering self help techniques and talking about a number of things that have affected my mental health, but also looking at methods I have put into practice to help build my confidence, happiness and ability to overcome. I will also be linking these to mountain biking to show you just how amazing our sport can be.

So, saddle up. Sync your strava and let’s get started:

Chapter one: A brief history.

Talking about myself is something that I have grown used to over time, I write blogs for a number of companies, and deal with potential new customers on a daily basis, so explaining who I am and what I do is something I am used to. I am not saying I love talking about myself, I’m merely used to it.

However, for this blog to have some context I am going to give you a brief insight into my life, business and personal. Here goes:

My name is Adam Copley, I’m 30 years old and have been working with both athletes, and members of the general public for over 10 years. As I progressed through my late 20’s I realised how much mental health meant to me as I became much more aware of my own mental situation. And how the things that I had experienced in my past were affecting me into my adult life. This led me to appreciate my own mental health, as well as learning about mental health techniques and the services I provide quickly evolved to be psychological as well as physical.

Working with people who are into a sport like mountain biking can lead to dealing with athletes (I call all my clients this) who are going through a lot mentally as I am sure you will be able to relate too.

Things like pressure from work, managing a busy lifestyle, relationship breakdowns, struggling with the financial costs of mountain biking and changes to weather are all ways clients can be affected mentally and as such. It is my responsibility to help these people. I became much more aware of others after I became aware of myself and to fully help people. I had to get to work on eliminating the demons that I had in my own life (past and present). So, what were these?

Looking at myself, I can easily assess the kind of person I can be, positive and negative.

I can be a very reactive person, someone who holds onto anger and allows this to consume aspects of my day. I am very protective of myself and quite a lonely person at times due to a seemingly increasing ability to push people away when I feel they are naturally getting closer to me. Making friends was something that I struggled with, keeping work colleagues at arm’s length, never sharing information with them (I am self-employed) for fear of them using it against me, not attending works do’s and ultimately being a very lonesome person. In my mid 20’s I had the attitude that everyone was against me, and that I only had myself to rely on.

It took me a long time to realise this and if I am honest. I could not tell you exactly what made the lightbulb click, it just did.

I had a breakdown, took some time out to focus on myself, getting to the bottom of what had caused this and realised the following:

My life is no different to that of other people’s, its better than some’s. And worse than others. And at this case it’s important to remember that every journey is individual. Talking about mental trauma is not a competition to see who has had the worst time of it. It is about understanding and support.

From an early age I was a target of bullies at school, I have a mole on my chin which I was bullied for, I had big teeth which I was bullied for since early days at school, I came home and told my dad (a working class, hard working man’s man) about this and his response was to hit them back, they’ll stop.

So, low and behold the next day my parents get a call from school, and that is what I had done. Now, the problem here is that this stopped the bullying, and as a child you don’t know right from wrong (I was about 7-10), only that punching someone who made you unhappy stops them doing it. This continued all the way through school where I was a troublesome child due to a lack of support from teachers and the school’s system. Frequently in trouble in lessons, and for fighting. This continued until I (luckily) passed my GCSE’s with enough grades to enrol at college where I really found a passion for learning, and made friends here too.

This bullying also made me terrified to go outside, to spend time outdoors with friends and instead I was happy to go to the gym, go home and play on the PlayStation, rinse and repeat. So my social upbringing was effected by the bullying that I received.

The reason I talk so much here about bullying in my early years. Is because this is where it all started for me. I can trace the routes back to my issues with bullying, and the fact that no one was around to help. So, my only solution was to get in trouble.

Into my later years I had relationships where I was cheated on, I floated through jobs because I didn’t like being around people, When I finally found a job that I loved, I ended up losing this due to relationships with my colleagues. Naturally, this was not my fault. I was too pig headed and stuck in my “me against the world attitude”.

And all of these things, can all be traced back to being bullied at school, and the lack of support that was available to me.

The thing is: When you work with people like I do, no one wants a miserable coach, or someone who is angry all the time as their partner, nobody worthwhile wants to be friends with bad news and let’s be honest. No one wants to go through life being that person.

So, how do you change? How do you take your mental health seriously when you previously felt like looking after yourself made you weak, and the only way to be strong was to have a chip on your shoulder?

For me, I left it too late. And my response was in reaction to five years of neglecting my mental health rather the being proactive and taking care of myself all the time.

I had a breakdown. I was in bits, I saw my world crumbling around me and that was it, luckily having always been a fighter I recognised that I did not want this, and that something had to change. I also knew that it was me who was responsible for dragging myself out of this hole as it was me who had got myself into it, ironic isn’t it that my “me against the world” mindset is the mindset that allowed me to pull myself up!

I admitted to the owner of the building I rented (we had a close working relationship) and the Manager of the gym whom I had known for a while that I had some mental issues that I needed to take care of. I actually told them what was going on with me, how I felt and that I needed to take some time. They were incredibly supportive of this and just allowed me to get on with it, knowing that if I wanted to speak I would. I opened myself up to things like forgiveness, and rebuilt bridges with people that were once close to me. One thing led to another, and I became more open minded towards self-help, trying meditation, reading, yoga, walking without my phone, riding mountain bikes (I bet you were wondering when it would pop up).

I then began to realise that I was the most important part of my life. My business, my riding, my relationships. None of these could flourish if I weren’t okay. I became a more positive, happy, and social person and low and behold I made more friends, signed up more clients and felt more comfortable at social events.

Fast forward to present day and I am much better, still not the finished article but you should never aim to be. I read every day, I journal every day. I schedule my life and make time to help other people. I actively seek out engagement with colleagues and friends and have a close network of people whom I can rely on.

I journal every day, logging down my thoughts and feelings, wins of the day and lessons learned. I have a diary where I can write down things that I need to do. I am conscious of what music I listen to as it influences my emotions and I set goals for myself on things I need to improve on.

This is why I am writing this blog. I know I am not the only person who has suffered and is suffering. I know how important mental health is for everyone and I also know how good being outdoors can be for it.

I really hope you have been able to relate to something in this blog and that it hasn’t just been me telling you a sob story, next week we will be looking at self help techniques and ways you can implement them into your life.

But for now. I hope you can take something from this blog and look forward to the next chapter.

Have an amazing day.
Adam.

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