TRACEY CROUCH mp
42, SPORTS MINISTER AND MP FOR CHATHAM AND AYLESFORD
‘“You’re supposed to be a brave politician, but you can’t even look after yourself.” As I sat in the cold bathwater one late December evening, crying, this is the thought that looped through my mind.
I’d responded to the break-up of a relationship a few months earlier by throwing myself into work. And despite playing sport all my life, as my anxiety levels rose, I stopped turning up to my boxercise class.
Fridays filled me with dread, and when the Christmas holidays rolled around, and Parliament went into recess, the lack of structure was on another level. Left alone with my thoughts, depression hit – hard.
A doctor confirmed the diagnosis, prescribed antidepressants and suggested I seek out talking therapy. But I told no one. Nobody could know that I’d failed.
I returned to work and, once my medication kicked in, I rediscovered the motivation to get back in the gym. Difficult weekends were saved by the girls’ football team I coached. By spring, I felt much better, but my GP insisted I stay on medication until I put some additional support in place. When he mentioned mindfulness, I didn’t think it would be for me. But, determined to get better, I went along to a Mindfulness For MPS course. I left my first session confused, my mind too jumpy to settle, but by my third, something started to click. I then made time to meditate daily, and an awareness of my surroundings and breathing pattern now comes naturally.
With hindsight, I can see that going through that time has shown me the balance I need. I allow myself to work hard, without sacrificing the time for workouts or mindful moments. It is this that keeps me strong, without having to develop the thick skin we MPS are always told we need. I want to be someone who laughs when things are funny and cries when things are sad. If that means absorbing some of the raw emotion of those in my constituency, that’s okay. I’ve developed the tools I need to be there for them, my family and for myself.’
‘I want to be someone who laughs when things are funny and cries when things are sad’