how sport helped with my recovery – physically and psychologically
Andy Grant, British competitor in the 2014 Invictus Games
The link between mental health and sport is not a new one, but for me, I began to take notice in the summer of 2012 at the time of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. This was also around the time I was adjusting to life as an amputee.
Two years prior, I’d made the difficult decision of having my right leg amputated. As a Royal Marine Commando, I was badly injured in Afghanistan by an IED and the wounds to my leg weren’t healing as well as it was hoped. Not only did I have to give up on my career in the Royal Marines but physically and psychologically I was having to deal with a new way of living.
The 2012 Paralympic Games helped me realise the huge potential that sport has. Physically it was obvious but for me personally it became much more than just getting back to being fit. Since leaving the Royal Marines, I wasn’t participating in any team sports and there was no onus on me to work out or play sports a few times a week anymore. I noticed this began having an impact on my mindset. I was becoming fed up, losing confidence and feeling lonely. I was missing being a part of something. My problems then interfered with friends and family and before long it was obvious that I needed to start getting involved in sports again and put a stop to this downward spiral effect that was impacting my life.
Setting goals has been a big thing for me. It started with running 5km, then 10km and then half marathons. I took part in triathlons and began swimming. I found myself in a spiral again but this time a positive one. I started feeling much better about myself, confidence came back and my relationships with friends and family improved. Suddenly I realised there were so many opportunities to get involved with sports team and organisations.
Thankfully the Invictus Games weren’t too far away and came at a great time for me. I was lucky enough to be selected as part of the British Armed Forces Team, and this experience just reinforced how important sport was in helping me with my recovery.
Being around friends again, making new ones. That team spirit. Something I once felt in the Royal Marines, it was all back.
I cannot stress enough the benefit of and positive impact sport and events like the Invictus Games can have on someone’s mental health. Whatever injury or illness you may have, sport has the ability to make you feel good about yourself, despite what may have happened in the past.
Most importantly, this impact has been long-lasting. The 2014 Invictus Games were an amazing experience. But they have propelled me on in so many different areas of my life and helped me in moving forward. Now I feel ready to deal with life after my injury.