Although a confident business woman and support worker, Claire Gradwell from Ely regularly suffers with anxiety and panic attacks, especially in crowded places. Determined to face her fears and to raise money for CPSL Mind, Claire entered the Spartan Challenge, which took place in November at Twickenham stadium, an event packed with thousands of people.
Claire said, “My mantra this year was “Strong in Mind, strong in Body”. This was the goal I’d never thought I’d attempt – a Spartan race with 20 gruelling obstacles. I’d never set foot inside a busy stadium due to anxiety and I steer clear of busy venues due to panic attacks. I wasn’t even able to attend the gym or a group exercise class due to feeling completely overwhelmed.
I regularly suffer from anxiety but I have found that exercise helped me to focus and feel great about myself. In preparation for this event I went to weekly hypnotherapy which really helped, as well as yoga, cardio and breath-work classes all at home. I also worked on my physical stamina, completing 384 high intensity home workouts using the @Fiit app. This was a real life changer for me as it was highly effective and meant I could get fit without leaving the house.”
In spite of her mental health challenges, Claire completed the Spartan race. She did struggle with a panic attack on the cargo nets but, with the help of her fellow Spartans, she persevered to the finish line. She also raised £350 in sponsorship for CPSL Mind.
After completing the race, Claire said, “I’ve held myself back for so long in life… believing that I couldn’t do certain things, couldn’t cope in certain jobs or situations, take holidays, take adventures, be in big groups, attend events/parties, couldn’t join a gym or group workout class, doubting my ability as a mum too due to fear. I feel like I’m opening up a whole new world to myself way beyond fitness. Fitness has been the catalyst for much bigger and more exciting opportunities for me. I’m reclaiming my sense of self beyond the grip of anxiety. I’m reclaiming my sense of self as a strong woman as well as a mother. My own identity again too.“
Zoe Doherty, Fundraiser for CPSL Mind said, “We have been so impressed by Claire’s bravery and courage throughout all of her training and on the day. Her determination to achieve her goals and overcome her fears has been hugely inspirational. We are extremely grateful for her support. The money raised will go towards helping other local people who are struggling with their mental health.”