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Wrestling with my mental health | Connor Gregory | TEDxNewcastleCollege

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rhasta I just like to ask you there any professional wrestling fans in the room yeah okay thanks coach my TED talk by shares no professional wrestling is an absolutely amazing entertainment spot like it’s a complete sort of violent pantomime and I’m here to talk about all the weird and wonderful world that is wrestling and how it’s helped me in kind of like a one-sided narcissistic therapy session so chairs for that I wrestled under the name Scottie rock that’s me hi yeah I didn’t bring my spandex I thought I’d at least a supplier picture I’ve been wrestling since I was 17 and I’m now wrestling for promotions across the UK primarily a cruiserweight in high-flying wrestler and I’ve been described as erratic and irresponsible and watching me wrestle is like watching a kid on skittles so take from that what you will but underneath I stuff with mental health issues depression is a very very common mental health issue and it affects one in five people in the UK alone that’s almost 20% and that’s an astounding number and it often results in suicide there’s no sugarcoating that suicide is a rising cause of death amongst young people and that’s fact as well as depression anxiety anxiety is a feeling of unease such as worry or fear and everyone will feel anxiety at some point in their life whether it’s a job interview exams what any kind of stress public speaking but a lot of people feel anxious constantly and it’s to the point where they can’t control how much they worry has physical effects often known as resulting in things known as panic attacks coping mechanisms like people will you if you google kokum coping mechanisms you’ll find step-by-step guides and that’s great if that sort of stuff works for you but often people’s coping mechanisms are completely subjective so what works for one won’t work for another I found professional wrestling when I was 17 I started college and I started professional wrestling and that monstrosity on the left was me horrendous creature college was a real struggle for me and that’s sort of where I started suffering quite badly with mental health issues I went through a really rough patch and some really personal stuff happened and I went from 14 stone 5 to 12 stone 7 in just under a month because I wasn’t eating and I was being sick every day before college and that sort of became a morning routine for me professional wrestling became a massive part of my life and not just the sport like the community as well it provided me with a form of escapism that I hadn’t felt before a lot of people will talk about how people wear masks as a form of coping with things for me it’s almost like an alter ego like Scotty Rourke doesn’t have any of the same troubles that I do like he’d have no problem from presenting this if I was all in me spandex from the minute you step out the curtain it’s almost a different mindset you go into a different headspace and a friend of mine said to me it’s nice to see you smile like that it’s like I could literally see your weight being lifted from you and I’ve never been able to submit up quite as much as that before I fell out of love of wrestling when the promotion that I started with back home in Grimsby sort of collapsed and it was a similar time that I moved to University so on top of already establish mental health issues I had the upheaval of moving to the other side of the country from Grimsby to Liverpool so literally like East Coast to West Coast that’s not a good rap song and I quickly began to feel isolated because I didn’t have many friends out there I was the only one from Grimsby that went to Liverpool and turn to sort of drinking with my uni friends and that was fine for a little while and obviously I didn’t have the the release or escapism that I had with professional wrestling because it almost deceased when I was back home my drinking started off as social as I said with sort of the lifestyle of freshers but it got out of hand from September to December I lost even more weight going from 11 6 to 10 7 4 I remember getting home for the Christmas period and my mum gave me a big hug and she turns to me and she was like you’ve lost a stone stairs in our checks and I’d lost a stone it was ridiculous I wouldn’t tell my friends sort of how excessively I was drinking I simply said that I wasn’t eating very well because that’s you know you pull her at uni but it had become apparent that I was drinking to the point where I gave myself a stomach ulcer and I sank further into a depressive state and began having intrusive thoughts of suicide I was contemplating it daily and that was a really sort of dark period of my life it was difficult there’s no way around that British wrestling revolution was initially founded by the leftover remnants of what was the Grimsby wrestling scene back home and a close friend of mine said to me in a more explicit way that if I wanted to be a part of BWR then I needed to sort myself out I needed to have the right headspace and I couldn’t be sort of abusing my body in the way that I was abusing it this is when wrestling kind of took over again and became a huge part of my life and I’ve been very hands-on with the company I’ve helped my friends build the company up from scratch whether it’s we’ve we’ve renovated a new venue that’s like capacities about 600 people because like it’s mad to think the groom’s do wrestling scenes booming because nothing else in Grimsby is the wrestling community is so unique in so many ways like as I said where else you get to be a best mate and not get it all off for it there are people in my life that have supported me through such dark times and I’m so grateful for that some of them are set up there my tag-team partner called Jenny and Adam who was the one that a word for me before and if it wasn’t for them being here I don’t think I be able to do this today either they’re always by my side we’re almost inseparable some would say too close professional wrestling is I would say one of the only true team sports because the things that we do in the ring and the students that we perform you’ve got to trust who you’re on with you’ve got to trust who you’re in the ring with a hundred percent I’m not gonna let any Joe just smack me in the face so Trust is a massive thing if someone’s got you over their head and they’re about to drop you you’re gonna trust that person not to hurt you but without some of the friends as I say I’ve made through wrestling I don’t think I’d be here the pictures up there are a few of the friends that have been by my side the entire time they’re at WrestleMania part is where we’ve got to dress up at the pub that I work in and they’re really fun wrestling’s really fun not only is professional wrestling provided me with a safe and healthy outlet constant emotional support both emotionally and mentally from my closest friends and family it’s also pushed me physically like you know healthy body healthy mind and all that jazz sounds really cliche but it was said earlier about working out sort of clearing your head and and and building the mind so to be on top physical form is a big part of it I need to be sort of the best I can be and it’s constantly pushing my limits like if it wasn’t for wrestling I wouldn’t be delivering this talk today I was found on Twitter by someone that worked for Joe Cody at UK and I was interviewed over diem because he was doing a segment called how wrestling saved my life and I thought that was really interesting I really needed to get behind it and I didn’t expect it to go any further like it was a case of I thought it maybe someones like school project or like college you know college thing but it got three million views that and that was like in the new year so this is all very new to me you’ll have to bear with but from that like from stem just from that alone I’m here today I’m delivering my first TED talk and I think that’s massive I’m working with BBC Radio one and they’re putting together a three-part documentary podcast about myself professional wrestling and mental health because it’s such a massive forefront a minute I still think it’s a little bit taboo to talk about it so it’s all about breaking those boundaries and being honest and I couldn’t wear my heart I must leave any more than I do the signs of depression they’re very noticeable some of them are more noticeable than others I’ve already touched on the rapid weight fluctuation but you know we’ll leave fat connor in the past but what I’m trying to say more than anything is it’s okay to not be okay why I’m not okay and that’s okay have I said okay enough it’s really important to own your own okayness whether it’s good or bad because at the end of the day you’ve only got yourself and you’ve only got the people that you surround yourself with if you’re passionate about something there will be others out there that shame that share that same passion with you and it’s all about grabbing those people and clinging on to them for dear life even when they want to get short of you check on your friends you never ever know what’s going through someone else’s head and to be quite frank you never know when the last conversation you’re gonna have with some of your friends are going to be if anything I’ve said during my time upon this stage is resonated with anyone or anyone has any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me Oh a problem shared is a problem halved and thank you very much for having me [Applause]

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