Replacing Mental Illness with Mental Fitness – Candice’s Story


I’m Candice and I can confidently say that I no longer “suffer” from anxiety and depression and my mental illness no longer defines who I am.

Of course it wasn’t always this way. I remember my first crippling panic attack and the attacks that followed; the feeling like it would never stop. I spent 5 years medicating with various prescriptions only to find the most comfort in alcohol. As a result of this I was constantly fighting with my husband and creating excuses why things were his fault or the fault of everyone around me, or the fault of my parents, or my peers for bullying me when I was younger.

I had friends and family who reach out regularly, telling me it was time to change, that I was worth fighting for. I would brush off any kind words from anyone because I didn’t say nice things to myself and it was even worse if someone else did. After dragging my body and my mind through the never-ending dark, I realized that if I wanted to keep my marriage and start a family I needed to be stronger and take care of my body.

This is when I found the gym and my first personal trainer. He taught me to shut my brain up and face my excuses, he taught me to stay consistent and true to my body and health. Throughout the last 10 years I have worked to replace my medication with daily gym visits, and consistent practice of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

I would see people working toward their career and academic goals; meanwhile I’m over here teaching myself how to think? To someone who has never experienced this level of anxiety and depression it might seem a little odd, but if you have ever had a full blown conversation with yourself, convincing yourself that you’re a complete waste of space and that no one in this world deserves to be around the burden that you bring, I’m talking to YOU!

No person has ever spoken to me the way I used to speak to myself. Please don’t for a second think this was like a magic movie scene, because it was not! Making this change was the beginning of pure exhaustion and complete breakdown. No self-help book, therapist or cute little quote could do the work for me; I had to counter every single thought that came into my head.

I would ask myself the list of questions I created for my thoughts; is this true? What would your boss/family/friends say if you said this out loud? If you were hearing yourself as a friend what would you say? I asked myself these questions for Every. Single. Thought. I was always in bed early because I couldn’t take the thinking anymore.

My “magic pill” was keeping consistent with my trainer. I didn’t have to think about what to do but I still battled changing “I can’t do this” to “Yes I can!”.

After the downturn of oil and gas and my unemployment becoming imminent I decided it was time to pivot. I am in a place where what I did for myself is working and working well, it’s now time to share my experience with others like me and help get them to where I am today.

I now teach those still suffering from anxiety and depression how to use fitness for their mental health. If any part of my story resonated with you please reach out, I can be found on Instagram as @mcknightcandice.

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