‘I was chasing the money’: Back-from-brink fitness instructor launches business

Paul Cosham Discussing his experiences with depression and anxiety, which led him to stand at the si

Paul Cosham Discussing his experiences with depression and anxiety, which led him to stand at the side of the A11 contemplating taking his own life. The Samaritans helped him. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

A fitness instructor who said depression and anxiety left him considering ending his life is launching a new fitness business to encourage people to normalise talking about their mental health.

Paul Cosham, from East Ruston, said he was often worried or anxious to tell people how he felt until he found himself standing by the side of the road in September 2019.

Figures show that men aged between 45 and 49 the group that remained at the highest risk of taking their own life.

The grandfather-of-three said; “I reached out to my sister and she got me to promise I would speak to the Samaritans. The call convinced me to go home.”

Prior to being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, the 50-year-old spent six years in the army and worked for 20 years in the prison service.

Paul Cosham Discussing his experiences with depression and anxiety, which led him to stand at the si

Paul Cosham Discussing his experiences with depression and anxiety, which led him to stand at the side of the A11 contemplating taking his own life. The Samaritans helped him. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant


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He said one of his happiest memories was working as a PE officer overseeing the gym, but after promotion took him away from the gym floor he began to struggle.

He said; “I was chasing the money. I wanted a better life for myself and my family. I can look back now and see I was ill back then. I didn’t confront it.”

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He left the prison service in 2013 and began working as a library manager, overseeing two Norfolk libraries.

Mr Cosham said; “I was unhappy in my job, I was approaching 50 and I had done alot of thinking back of everything I had done in 50 years and started analysing it. I could have done this better, that better, how I handled situations in the past. I wasn’t focusing on the good parts and I was looking at the mistakes and I was an absolute failure.”

Paul Cosham Discussing his experiences with depression and anxiety, which led him to stand at the si

Paul Cosham Discussing his experiences with depression and anxiety, which led him to stand at the side of the A11 contemplating taking his own life. The Samaritans helped him. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

On the night he spoke to The Samaritans, his wife took him to see his GP who referred him to Hellesdon Hospital. After a stay or around two weeks he was supported by NSFT’s health and wellbeing team.

“The support I got, in my personal view, it was brilliant,“ Mr Cosham said, “They did everything I needed them to do for me.”

The father-of-two then took the step to open up to friends and family, and said he was overwhelmed by the response, leading him to use his passion for fitness to launch Fitness in Mind.

Mr Cosham said: “Fitness in mind’ this is my own business which will be focusing on helping those with mental health problems with a kind of pay it forward approach as I do not want other to visit the same dark places as I went over the last year.

Paul Cosham Discussing his experiences with depression and anxiety, which led him to stand at the si

Paul Cosham Discussing his experiences with depression and anxiety, which led him to stand at the side of the A11 contemplating taking his own life. The Samaritans helped him. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

“As a man, prior to this year, it was really difficult for me to open up and talk about how I’m feeling.

“It is very much the start of the next phase of my life.”

“It should be normal to have these conversations. I think we are recognising mental health more, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Find out more about Fitness in Mind by visiting fitnessinmind.co.uk.

If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 116 123. Both services are available 24 hours 7 days a week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple & Android.

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