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June 12, 2023
Liam’s story: raising awareness about mental health with fitness
Sawtry local, Liam Baker, is raising awareness about mental health by bringing his fitness event to his hometown.
“From not speaking about mental health, to hosting a mental health meet in my home village within two years”.
Hello, I am Liam. And a little over two years ago, I was scared about opening up about my mental health for fear of being seen as weak. I didn’t know where to turn or who to talk to, so I bottled it all up until I couldn’t take it anymore.
As a man who has struggled with my mental health throughout the years, like so many COVID magnified my perceived shortcomings in life which, on 17th March 2021, took me to the darkest place I have ever been, and never wish to return to. If it wasn’t for the quick thinking of a close friend of mine, I wouldn’t be here to tell my story.
As a result of my suicide attempt I had to talk, I had to explain where my head was at to those closest to me so I started talking openly with my family about my mental health. Within two days, I had paid for my first round of CBT and also started on some medication. A week on from then, my brother-in-law came across a guy called, Danny Brumpton, who was selling t-shirts which had a strongman mental health slogan on them.
Danny turned out to be a truly inspirational character, someone I could relate to and felt comfortable talking to about my mental health. Danny told me openly about his mental health journey and the reason behind the t-shirts – that it is simply to give back to mental health services and to raise awareness of the importance of being open about mental health.
After a month or so of talking with Danny, I said, “Would you mind if I made an annual event out of the t-shirt?” And, in true Danny fashion, he said, “Of course, man. I came up with the brand but I want people like you to make of it what they need from the brand.”
Within six weeks, I went from idea to standing in front of 30 people at Deadlifts Over Depression 2022. From that day, I felt a feeling of achievement like no other. After the event, I had one of the lifters at the event come to me and open up about their mental health. From our conversations, they started to seek professional help and are now in a much better place mentally.
Since the day I completed the first one, the perfectionist in me knew that I could do it bigger and better. So this year, I will take it to my home village and take over the local village hall. Who knows maybe in three years we could be hosting these events in the O2 or Wembley Arena ?.
The purpose behind the event is to show those that are mentally struggling that anyone can have mental health struggles, and that there is a community in strength training that are ready to support you. This year, I have worked hard to secure sponsors that have helped me through the past two years as I wanted to sign post those attending or supporting the event to the brands, and people that saved my life.
On the day, the fifth lifting station is a Team Deadlift. This is a longer standard bar, with space for two people to lift together. To me, this lift has tremendous synergy which we are trying to achieve with the event – it requires communication and honesty about how you feel to allow you to get the weight off the ground. It also reminds you that lifting 200kg on your own is hard, but when you split that weight with two people then it’s not so hard.
The mental health meet is on Sunday 25 June between 10am and 4pm at the Old School Hall, Sawtry, PE28 5UY.
Where can I make a donation?
If you’ve been inspired by Liam’s story, please feel free to donate via our Just Giving Page.
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