Tag Archives: suicide

Our proud Pilates Community; we are stronger together

www.chrishuntwellness.com

Usually in my blog I try to bring a more light-hearted look to Pilates and health. I was going to write today about Pilates in Russia following my latest visit. But if you have been reading my articles over the past months you will see that I have a big interest in the issues of mental health and depression and their link to physical exercise. I do not seek controversy, but I am not afraid to talk about the topics that some people would rather ignore. I could write interesting articles about Shoulder Bridge, but I leave such articles to other people.

I lost my father to Alzheimer’s (see my blog “I lost my father, don’t lose yours” and I have also talked about depression and the link between mental and physical health in several previous articles. So it was with great sadness that over the weekend I read about the suicide of a 34 year-old Pilates teacher in New York last week, who jumped from her Upper West Side building.  My deepest and sincere condolences to her family and friends. I am sure that some people reading this article will know the lady in question, so I hope you will forgive me for writing about this tragic event.

There are suggestions about incurable disease and mental health issues. I have personal experience of the dark places that can lead people to depression and even suicide. I lost a close friend many years ago and I found it very difficult to understand how I did not see the signs. But the truth is that as teachers we are performers, so most of us have a great “game face” that we switch on during those times when we would rather be anywhere else than standing smiling in front of a group of people. As much as we all love Pilates and bringing our knowledge to the communities that we live in, we are human as well, so we have difficult situations to deal with and we are allowed to be sad sometimes. “The show must go on” is an old cliché but it has a lot of relevance for many people every day.

I love being a Pilates teacher, and I love helping people to change their lives (it is important to remember that we do not change people’s lives, we simply give people the knowledge and belief so that they can change their own lives). I also love the Pilates community. Sure, people criticize me and the things that I write in my blogs sometimes, and of course I do not and cannot expect everyone to always agree with my point of view. And there are also always people in every walk of life who try to make a name for themselves by being negative as they find it easier to criticize than praise. But everywhere I travel from Russia to the US, and every Pilates forum and group I am a member of,  I always have a strong sense of community, a sense that the vast majority of Pilates professionals want only to help each other, want to share their knowledge and experience.

It is for this reason that I love our community, and I always try to give more than I receive. It is also for this reason that I created Pilates Carnival, conventions that give all profits to children’s charities and where I ask everyone including the presenters (and of course me) to work for no money, donating their time and energy for the good of our community. Of course some presenters are horrified with this thought and I have been accused of cheapening Pilates and devaluing the system. Whilst I always respect the opinions of other people, I think these people simply do not get it. They are so commercially orientated they fail to see that by promoting themselves and Pilates in an environment that benefits charities as well, they are creating a positive energy that no money can buy. And of course it is not rocket science for these people to realise that if you do a Pilates convention for charity attended by over 100 Pilates teachers/studio owners and hundred’s of member’s of the public, you might just get some good exposure and new clients from the experience. But I respect their life choices, thank them for their time, and I simply do not work with them because they are not “my type” of people.

But I am happy that the majority of Pilates people are my type, they give more than they take, love much more than they hate. To paraphrase Lennon and McCartney, in the end the love we save is equal to the love we gave. So let’s keep supporting each other, looking after each other and looking out for each other. Most things in life are more important than money or reputation. Much more important.

In the U.S.: If you are contemplating attempting suicide, there are people who can help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

In the U.K.: For confidential support call the Samaritans  on 08457 90 90 90 or visit a local Samaritans branch

Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator based in Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. For more information about Pilates with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway?

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Let’s talk about depression… Part 1: Is it real?

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www.chrishuntwellness.com

One of my aims for this bog is not to write all pretty and happy articles, but to try to talk about real issues however uncomfortable or taboo they are. I am a fitness professional, so I am not an expert on all the topics I talk about, but what I say comes from my heart.

So, the “season to be jolly” is fading fast. But the sad fact is that this time of year is also a desperate time for many people. I wrote recently about dementia (see my blog “I lost my father, don’t lose yours”) and how it is still for many people a taboo subject, whilst for many other it is totally misunderstood. The same could be said about depression, so let’s try to blow the lid on that as well.

It’s been reported recently that as many as three quarters of a million young people in the UK may feel that they have nothing to live for. A study for the Prince’s Trust charity says almost a third of long-term unemployed young people have contemplated taking their own lives.

The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index was based on interviews with 2,161 16 to 25-year-olds. The report found 9% of all respondents agreed with the statement: “I have nothing to live for” and said if 9% of all youngsters felt the same, it would equate to some 751,230 young people feeling they had nothing to live for. The research found that long-term unemployed young people were more than twice as likely as their peers to have been prescribed anti-depressants.  One in three (32%) had contemplated suicide, while one in four (24%) had self-harmed. The report found 40% of jobless young people had faced symptoms of mental illness, including suicidal thoughts, feelings of self-loathing and panic attacks, as a direct result of unemployment. Three quarters of long-term unemployed young people (72%) did not have someone to confide in, the study found.

I talked from personal experience about dementia having lost my father to the disease. I can also talk from some personal experience of depression, as I have several family members and friends who have in the past suffered from this debilitating illness.

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First and most important, no one should be ashamed or embarrassed to be talking about depression. If you think worse of anyone who has or is suffering from depression, then with respect this really is your problem, and you should definitely read on! If you still think that depression is just an excuse to stay in bed and be lazy, a pathetic reason to feel sorry for yourself and wallow in self-pity, and that people who say they have depression should “man-up”, pull themselves together and stop feeling sorry for themselves, then again, please read this blog. It might make you begin to realise that you are totally wrong. In fact hopelessly wrong.

I do have sympathy for people who do not understand depression because it is difficult to empathise with something you have never suffered from. I mean, how can it be a real illness when you cannot see it? So let’s get one thing clear from the start. It is an illness. A real, bonafide illness that can be clinically proven. At its worst, it is as totally debilitating as any physical illness, making what most people consider a “normal” life impossible.

The worst thing you can say to someone suffering from depression is to “pull themselves together”, “stop being so pathetic”, “stand up for yourself”, “snap out of it”, and many other nuggets of similar ignorance that I have heard in the past. Why is this such a bad approach? It’s simple if you stop to think. Most people who are depressed already feel useless and hopeless. For you to point out and confirm that fact to them only reinforces their negative self-belief. It makes them feel even more inadequate because they know they are incapable of doing any of those things for them self however much they want to.

The roots of depression are varied, and it’s not my intention here to go into details as to causes. What I want to do is get people talking and thinking. And to stress that people suffering from depression need your support, not your judgement or criticism. It’s not easy not to judge, not to have a holier than thou attitude. In fact I think it’s the mark of a real man who does not judge, who can offer a hand of support and understanding.

As a fitness professional, I cannot stress enough the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise to help deal with many mental and physical issues. As my dementia article pointed out, there is a proven link that what’s good for your body is also good for your brain. By exercising regularly and eating healthily, many people can really improve their physical and mental condition. But this is not always the only answer, sometimes people need professional help.

My experience of depression was one of the reasons that led me to discover meditation, and I thoroughly recommend this to everyone whether you are suffering from depression or not. It doesn’t require hours of sitting in the lotus position either. 20 minutes a day is a good start.  As the saying goes, if you do not have enough time to do 20 minutes meditation, then no problem, do 30 minutes. 🙂

If you know someone who is suffering from depression, don’t judge or offer them advice. They don’t need that and it doesn’t help. They need your understanding and support. Question is, can you give them only that?

In tomorrow’s blog I will give you some ways to deal with negative thoughts, and ways to try to stay positive. So, see you tomorrow.

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