Publish date: 14 May 2024

Clinton Sassa.jpgAbout ten years ago Clinton Sassa, a Rehabilitative Support Worker at the Trust was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. The diagnosis didn’t quite come as a surprise. As a child, Clinton struggled with depression, but didn’t know what to call it. As an adult, it became too disruptive to ignore. 

“I went through really hard times and wouldn’t leave the house or my bed for days,” says the 31-year-old East Londoner.

A former semi-professional footballer with numerous clubs, including Newbury Forest, Romford FT and Leyton United, Clinton’s future looked bright. Until he injured his knee in a game and underwent reconstructive knee surgery. He was unable to play football and his mental health got worse.

“It was a tough year. I had a child on the way, I’d moved away from home and I was unhealthy and had gained a lot of weight. I eventually said to myself, this is enough. I needed to get active again and I started going to the gym steadily for two years, then I stopped going.”

“It made me feel worthless and useless on days I wasn’t doing anything. I’d get up and stay in bed and not go to university or work. I thought everyone was judging me and I was anxious to leave my bedroom,” says Clinton.

Last year, after Clinton’s first relationship failed, and he continued gaining weight, he decided to try going to gym again. He began small, first doing home workouts while watching YouTube, before mustering the courage to venture outside to the gym.

“I was serious about it that time, so I took the next step. I used to do a lot of sports before I got diagnosed, and the gym felt like the only place I could go. I always had this thing for exercise and how it makes you feel. But now instead of playing ball I went to the gym. I’ve been there ever since. It’s good for the mind and body,” says Clinton. 

Research shows that physical activity has many physical and mental benefits, including improving our mood, managing symptoms of depression and anxiety, managing stress and improving sleep.

Since his return to the gym, Clinton has lost weight and now works in one of the Trust’s gyms, supporting patients with therapeutic, rehabilitative exercise. While he might not be able to play semi-professional football again, he’s grateful to have rediscovered his love of exercise. 

“I used exercise to get back on track with life and myself,” he says. “I could go into a gym session feeling tired and down but once I’ve started training I’m in the best mood I could be in, and I really enjoy it,” he says. 

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