#MyBlogLife: Éanna Walsh Of Bare Knuckling Bipolar On Stigma, Snapchat And Staying Fighting Fit
He's found a new lease of life through fitness.
From: Co. Kildare
Facebook: Bare Knuckling Bipolar
If you’re already following Éanna Walsh on Snapchat, you’ll know him for his real-life look at mental health issues, hardcore MMA training and general lols as a 27-year-old lad living with a gang of housemates who love taking the piss. If you’re not following him, then get on it, because we sense there are big things ahead for this guy.
Since being hospitalised with Bipolar Disorder back in 2013, Éanna has used fitness as his key to a new lease of life. He’s been sharing his story – and charting his training regime ahead of his first MMA fight this August – on social media ever since, and we caught up with him to find out more.
Tell us a bit about your own story of depression and bipolar disorder. When did it start?
In the summer of 2013 I was obsessing with trying to get a business of mine off the ground, and in layman’s terms I pretty much flew off the handles. There was a lot going on at the time. Looking back on things, life was happening in extremes.
I guess it had a huge effect on me and lead to what I now know was my first fully blown manic episode. In many ways it was the opposite of depression. I was always buzzing, with no need for food or sleep. Eventually I lost control but was too far past the point of reason to see it.
Was there a ‘rock bottom’ moment when you realised you needed to seek help?
By the time I lost control, I was too past the point of reason to see it, so I was lucky that my friends realised something was up and alerted my family. They got me to hospital ASAP, where I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.
As for a ‘rock bottom’ moment, yes there have been a couple of times in my life when I’ve thought to myself “How have I ended up here?”. I’ve gone to some dark places, but I now know that asking for help is absolutely the way to go. Nowadays I surround myself with support and it makes all the difference.
Tell us a bit about Bare Knuckling Bipolar and why you decided to share your story?
For me, much of the recovery process was like feeling my way through the darkness. I didn’t want to live the rest of my life through a haze of medication, so I turned to fitness and decided to put myself forward for an amateur MMA fight.
I’m not saying I have the cure or a fix but I knew from early on that what I was doing was working for me, so I wanted to share my story in the hope it would help others. I got a great response initially so I decided to push on and Bare Knuckling Bipolar was born!
Another big reason for speaking out was that I was hoping to in some way clear my name and the names of others who are fighting against more than an illness. I have been directly affected by a stigma against mental health issues, which in many ways borders on discrimination. I find it hard to sit back and watch people’s lives be torn apart by something that can be put right.
What’s next for Bare Knuckling Bipolar? Your social media is always hopping!
After my first MMA fight this August, the plan is to continue to fight so I can keep my role as an ambassador for the campaign alive. For the most part Bare Knuckling Bipolar exists online, but I’d love to take the momentum we’ve gathered and use it to work with people face-to-face. We’ve a couple of exciting partnerships coming up… but I can’t say much about them yet! #Suspense
You’re extremely active on Snapchat – do your friends/family ever get annoyed that you always have your phone out?
As far as I’m aware none of them mind but I do get some abuse for it – and rightly so. One day recently I was standing in the kitchen wearing nothing but my boxers and snapping away about a pair of new fight shorts that had arrived, so I got the piss taken out of me for that! But without my mates around to slag me – and still get involved – it’d be no fun for me.
What are three words you’d use to describe your Snapchat stories to someone who’s never seen them?
Real, un-cut, and a little bit nuts.
What’s a day in your life like right now?
Random, and I like that. At the moment I’m working on a TV show called Wimp2Warrior, so I’m balancing a really tough training regime on top of everything else. Plus, lots of my free time is spent on the planning and organising of “the next step” for Bare Knuckling Bipolar.
Any tips for someone hoping to kickstart a proper fitness regime?
Yes! Ask yourself what it is you’d like to get good at and then work towards it. If you don’t know, try your hand at lots of different stuff. If you can find a few things that work for you, are sustainable and above all, are good craic, you’re on the right track. Failing all that just follow me on social media and I’ll show you a thing or two!
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