Jodie's story: from surviving to thriving

“I train because that's how I stop myself slipping into my black dogs days.”

Jodie Howell is a Personal Trainer at Nuffield Health Telford Fitness and Wellbeing Gym. She first got into gym training four years ago to help with her Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).

This is her journey from surviving to thriving.

Experiencing panic and anxiety attacks

Jodie began having what she now knows were panic and anxiety attacks in 2002, aged 11.

By the time she was 18, she couldn't leave the house. She was diagnosed with depression and generalised anxiety and prescribed medication to help. It did help her get to her university lectures but she felt sick all the time and like a cloud was over her.

With changing medications, the side effects didn’t subside so Jodie switched her focus to  exercise and keeping fit. This kept her mind busy for a while, but her anxiety reached new highs when she started her first full-time job.

Jodie started taking painkillers again, sometimes a whole pack a day. On the fifth day of taking painkillers she was so dizzy and unaware of her surroundings that was taken to hospital and treated as intention to self-harm.

C-PTSD diagnosis

Jodie knew that when she didn’t exercise her symptoms became worse, but her depression meant she wasn’t motivated to do anything about it. In 2014 Jodie had had enough. She went to the doctors with significant suicidal thoughts. This was when she was told her symptoms were more complex and consistent with a complex post traumatic stress (C-PTSD).

C-PTSD is a mental health condition where the symptoms of Post-Traumatic-Stree-Disorder (PTSD) are present along with other symptoms and behaviours such as anxiety, dissociation, distrust towards others, avoiding making friendships and regular thoughts of feeling useless and of ending your life.

Discovering a new love for exercise

In 2015, with encouragement from a friend, Jodie joined Nuffield Health Telford Fitness and Wellbeing Gym. She was overweight, had low confidence and was unsure what to do. Jodie decided to invest in a Personal Trainer, Derek Lawley, to teach her the ropes.

Over a two year period Jodie cried, gave up, relapsed and sweated but most of all she always got back to it. The days when she least wanted to get out of bed were the days she made sure she went and trained. Jodie became focused and found a new love for exercise.

The combination of HIIT and heavy resistance training achieved her goals of losing over four stone in weight and gaining lean muscle mass and, as her body shrunk, her confidence grew. Jodie recalled that her training significantly improved her mood and motivation. .

“Nuffield Health saved my life”

In late 2016, Derek and staff at Nuffield Health encouraged Jodie to look into becoming a Personal Trainer. She decided to do so as a way to share her knowledge both of mental health and exercise, 'even if it’s a bad day you should to get out there and exercise. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you go and do it!'

Jodie cant stress enough that it is hard to find the initial motivation to exercise whilst feeling anxious or depressed but once you gain the initial momentum there is no way back

'Aspire to Inspire'

When speaking about her personal training style Jodie likes to say she is a realist. She knows that everyone has priorities outside the gym be that work, family or pets. She also knows that not everything is quite as it seems – just because someone’s smiling on the outside doesn’t mean they are on the inside.

Jodie’s motto for life is ‘Aspire to Inspire’ and that’s fully what she intends to do at Nuffield Health.

If you're experiencing any of the same things as Jodie you can contact the Samaritans for emotional support.
Call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

Last updated Tuesday 4 February 2020

First published on Monday 9 September 2019