MENTAL HEALTH WEEK 2018
- Jess Mckee
For Mental Health Week 2018 we're sharing the story of our trainers to understand how they have overcome adversity, learned to embrace their emotions and how they are focusing on their minds as well as their body.
Jess McKee, originally from Birmingham but now an East Londoner, is one of our Reshape trainers and Rumble Concept Manager. Teaching fitness for over 8 years in London and around the globe, Jess is the Queen of our Rumble ring and has faced adversity that’s made her stronger than ever.
A lot happened within a very short space of time and I was forced to face emotions that I never thought I would have to experience. It's still a challenge to even give the emotional turmoil I experienced justice through a few words.
I moved to London soon after my Dad suddenly died from heart failure. Once I got to the big smoke it turned out my mother had an incurable cancer: multiple Myeloma. I was stuck between trying to find my feet in a new city, starting a new career in the fitness world and caring for my Mum. I spent my days between teaching classes to travelling back to Birmingham to be by my mum’s side whilst she had chemotherapy, biopsies, dialysis, and multiple other treatments. It wasn’t long before the cancer got the better of her and she lost her fight.
I was suddenly all alone. My only other family member, my brother, was back in Birmingham along with all of my friends and my boyfriend was on an eighteen month tour. I had no one to help me deal with an unbearable grief for the loss of both of my parents. It was a struggle to even brush my teeth in the morning, yet my job was to motivate other people every day in my fitness classes. I had to muster the energy to get myself out of bed and go. I didn’t have the support of someone at home looking out for me.
No one really saw or knew my struggle – I had no choice but to keep strong, get myself out of bed each day and continue. Grief, along with other mental strains, is emotionally exhausting and teaming that with the physical demands of my full-time job tested every part of my physical and emotional resources. It was a time that I truly discovered how strong I am and can be. As heart-breaking as every moment of that time was, it was also inspiring to understand how strong we can be as individuals when we’re faced with no alternatives. At times people would comment "I don't know how you do it" to which I would respond, "what's the alternative?"
A journey of self-discovery was all part of the pain and I realised it is possible and completely OK to be happy and devastated within the same moment. I still deal with the loss of my loved ones daily and I will always be heartbroken to think my parents weren’t at my 30th, will never meet any children, won't be at my wedding or know about the career I followed after leaving home. Facing this adversity made me realise the real struggles in life. I had to just keep going. I now know that I’m a fighter (not just in the Rumble room) and that I'm mentally stronger than I ever imagined.
"Facing this adversity made me realise the real struggles in life"
Through all of this I hope to help others whilst reminding myself of some key ways to deal with emotions that I face daily.
Negative emotions are not something to ignore, but to embrace. Rather than trying to force constant happiness, allowing yourself to feel and understand your reactions to certain situations is the key to a maintainable relationship with your emotions.
Being lonely isn’t something to be scared of, but something to teach us to be our own parent. Practice self-care and self-love without relying on others to provide it. You have to have your own back before anyone else has yours.
DON'T DELAY YOUR GRIEF.
Busying yourself with anything and everything is a short term fix. Stop running away from the issue and force yourself to deal with what you’re feeling. Start the healing process. Yoga, meditation, seeing a life coach or therapist, surrounding myself with supportive and positive people have all been methods that have helped me. Find your path and accept that it will take time.
It’s time for all of us to start investing as much in our mental state of mind as we do in our physical health. Let yourself FEEL every emotion, don’t prohibit sadness, allow it to balance your happiness. Spend more time improving your mental state, investing in mindful practices such as meditation or chatting through your thoughts with someone. Allow your mind to be injured and work it out- understand where the internal pain is coming from and focus on healing it.
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