JD Official | May 13, 2021

Mental Health Awareness Week: Danny Williams (@itsdannywilliams)

On Monday we kick-started Mental Health Awareness Week 2021! Each day this week we’ve been catching up with a different guest to open up the conversation on all things mental health.

Today, we’re getting catching up with personal trainer and one of our JD OG’s, Danny (@itsdannywilliams). Danny opens up about his mum’s struggles with Fibromyalgia and how this affects him, as well as tips for relieving stress and more…

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Danny! I’m a 23-year-old personal trainer and general health and well-being advocate. I have a love and passion for fitness and helping people fulfil their physical and mental potential! I love to cook and I am a Manchester United supporter! My favourite type of food is Italian and I have South American heritage from my Dad’s side! My mum is English and suffers from a chronic illness called fibromyalgia. This prompted me to collaborate with the amazing charity FMA UK, and our goal is to help raise as much awareness as possible for this debilitating disease. I am a family man and would take a trip to the great outdoors over a flashy trip to New York any day of the week.

Can you tell us a bit out Fibromyalgia?

So fibromyalgia in short is a long term illness that can be characterised by widespread muscoskeletal pain, accompanied by severe fatigue, fluctuating mood and memory loss to name a few. One of the main issues with fibromyalgia is that it is so commonly misdiagnosed, despite the fact that it is the second most prominent illness that affects the bones and muscles.

What has your mum’s experience been like living with this condition?

My mum’s experience living with fibro has been a journey to say the least. The onset of her symptoms predated her diagnosis for roughly ten years! But once correctly diagnosed, she then was finally prescribed the right medications and started to educate herself on the illness more, aiding her in her battle if you like. But on the whole it’s a crippling illness, which is at times unbearable for her.

How does this affect you and your family?

For me personally, it pains me to know how much she struggles on a daily basis. Living with mum for all the years of her suffering was difficult but I had some peace of mind knowing that I could be there for her. It’s been more difficult to be as present since moving to London, but my step dad is incredible and she has an amazing support network in my brother and sister back home too. I think seeing first hand someone you love suffer with something as debilitating as fibromyalgia gave me a real sense of gratitude for my own health and well-being, and without doubt played a huge part in me taking a serious liking to fitness and sport. My mum was a perfectly healthy woman before she was hit with fibro, without any real obvious triggers. Knowing this really makes me appreciate what I have in terms of my health and I think it subconsciously fuels me every day, whether that be in the gym or making healthy food choices!

What do you do to relieve stress?

For me, meditation has become a huge part of my life and I owe a lot of my stress relief to that. I think reading as a form of escapism is also great! Everyone has their own thing whether it be TV or video games (both of which I have used in the past to take my mind off things) but I have found real value in many books this last year of two where I have learned a lot of key things I can actually apply in real life when things get stressful. As for mediation, I just think it helps me stay calm when stressful scenarios arise…it’s not a ‘stress reliever’ I wouldn’t say, but I certainly don’t suffer from stress as much as I used to, if that makes sense!

You have to want to help yourself.

How do you use your platform to raise awareness about mental health?

When it comes to using my platform to raise awareness about mental health I try to do it both directly and indirectly. For example, I regularly post pictures with captions referencing self-help books or share pages I have found to be really useful for my mental health. Indirectly, I will always try to show both sides of my life and be completely transparent with my followers about what’s going on with me. I believe that influencers who only post the highlights to their followers are indirectly having a negative affect on their audience’s mental health because they’re showing to their followers that life is always perfect when clearly it isn’t. I am a real person with real problems, real down days, real bad skin days etc. And I will never try to hide that on any of my platforms.

Any top tips for anyone suffering with their mental health?

For anyone suffering with mental health issues I could give so much advice because I feel like personally I have been there and have found ways to help myself! But the main things for me would be to consciously choose to help yourself! This sounds silly but I think a lot of people suffering often suffer in silence and suffer without being proactive to better their situation (this was so me). No-one is going to come by and click their fingers and make you feel better; you have to want to help yourself. So I think communicating with other loved ones you trust about your situation is number one for sure. Then taking steps to improve your situation, for example reading self-help books that might improve your state of mind, or choosing to spend more time doing things you know you enjoy in order to ease your mind and improve your mood.

Catch up on our talks with Emma from PAPYRUS, Penny Jarrett and Stevie from YoungMinds. Stay locked in to the JD blog tomorrow for our final guest and more discussions around mental health!

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