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Ever since I was a child, I have always struggled with a lack of confidence and self-esteem. I have also been plagued with anxiety; fear of what might or might not happen. In school I was bullied daily for being ‘different’ i.e. being quiet and being bright. It took me a long time to get over the way I was treated because I never understood why I was treated that way.

However, things changed when I went to college, I met the best friends I’ve ever had, I feel truly privileged to still have those friends, what fantastic people! It was at this college that I first saw a leaflet for Komyokan dojo. What I had been taught about martial arts and what it could offer you, were all the things that I craved; self discipline, confidence and a sense of freedom from the anxiety that had been exacerbated at school.

So, I decided that I was going to join and enquired about lessons over the phone. I started aikido and weapons training and loved it. However, I was not there long before I stopped, I can’t tell you why exactly because I’m not entirely sure myself but what I do know for certain was that it was a mistake that I regretted, it ate away at me and gave ammunition to my own self deprecation.

It wasn’t long after I left that my father passed away and suddenly I was so aware of how everything could change so dramatically, usually when you think you are most safe and comfortable. My mental health suffered as a result. It took me years to reach a place where I felt I could move forward from the past and it wasn’t until October 2015 that I realised that if my life and my mental health was going to improve, that it was my responsibility; no one was going to fix my life for me.

So, I picked up the phone, called the doctor’s surgery and made an appointment to discuss my options regarding my state of mind. I was started on a drug called Mirtazapine and overnight the whole world changed. Before I started the drug, it felt as though there were a million thoughts rushing through my mind and I couldn’t concentrate on any one of them. Suddenly, all that noisy traffic became the equivalent of a single car going down a country lane and for the first time in years my head felt clear. Colours seemed brighter; jokes were 10 times funnier but best of all I could sleep. I actually dreamed, vividly, I could never remember dreaming before and I was enjoying the experience of dreaming so much I didn’t mind if the dream was a nightmare.

Mirtazapine has changed my outlook so much and spurred on by the outcome of taking a step to change my life, I took another step and on the 6th January 2016, I rejoined the dojo. I know now that I will never leave again, not by choice anyway. I regretted leaving deeply but I think that I had to leave to understand what I was missing and I had to go away and change who I was. I am a very different person to who I was then, I needed to be to come back and start again I think.

Every day that I’m training I’m getting better, healthier (both mentally and physically) and more confident. I’ m actually starting to like myself. I’m living more in the moment and feeling the grip of anxiety loosening bit by bit. I’m hoping to be free of it completely in the future. The people I train with are great people; it is truly a pleasure for me to train with them.

The thing I really love about the way that aikido is taught at Komyokan dojo, is the fact that in a lot of places it is treated as a kind of sport, but at our dojo learning aikido is learning about yourself and how to live your life, it should be so much more than a pastime and nothing less than a solid foundation for self-fulfilment and personal growth.

Being a member of Komyokan dojo is helping me to achieve all the things I need to function as a happy, confident individual. Aikido has been my saviour; imagine what it could do for you.

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