Gary Turland had everything to be happy about, so why was he feeling so fearful? EMMA DUNN reports on his diagnosis of anxiety

WHEN Gary Turland started developing irrational fears about anything and everything, he didn’t know where to turn.

The father-of-two, who runs the gym at Grange Leisure Centre in Stratton, had previously been happy and outgoing.

Life started getting on top of him though when he was taking on too much, including balancing two full-time jobs and trying to sell his family home.

“There was just so much going on in that short space of time and the stress spiralled to the point where I didn’t know what was going on,” he said.

“I started getting irrational fears. I couldn’t stop worrying about my health and I had fears about my family and work. I was worried what people thought of me too. I would worry about anything and everything, even other people’s problems.

“I would dwell on things that might not seem like a big deal to other people. Certain things would just stick in my head and I couldn’t get rid of them.

“Everybody would tell me ‘don’t worry about it, it’s not an issue’ but I just couldn’t stop.

“That would have a knock-on effect where I would spend so long worrying it would leave me feeling down. My family and friends tried to help me but I couldn’t help it.”

Gary kept his irrational fears to himself for about five months as he thought the feelings would pass.

Eventually though, he spoke to his uncle and a close friend.

“They reassured me and said I didn’t need to worry. Temporarily it went away but then it came back and I felt stressed,” he said.

“You’re just stuck in a loop and your brain is whizzing all day. The only time I got a break was when I was asleep.

“Because you feel so stressed and worried all the time you feel really down.

“I have always been quite a happy person and the way I was feeling at that time was the opposite. That really upset me,” he said.

“I felt like I had nothing to be happy about even though I knew I had. It was hard to imagine things getting better and I felt quite lonely even though I had my family and friends around me,” said the 29-year-old.

“I wanted to be happy – I have two lovely girls and a fiancée – but I was putting on a front for my family.

“I never wanted any of them to see me upset so I always kept it to myself.”

After about six months, when his mood became very low, Gary’s mum and boss both advised him to see a doctor.

“When other people tell you ‘you don’t seem right’ it suddenly becomes real. All that time I kept thinking I would be alright in a couple of days but then days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months.

“I wanted to get help for the sake of my children. It would have been a real struggle for me to carry on how I was.

“When I told the doctor about my symptoms he told me I was struggling with anxiety.

“It was such a relief to know I wasn’t the only person who has ever felt like this. It calmed me down and suddenly everything made sense. I hadn’t completely lost the plot – it’s a common thing.”

It is now about eight months since Gary saw the doctor that day.

When his anxiety originally started, he was balancing organising boxing events with his job at the gym, but he has now left the world of boxing behind him. He said he wishes his former colleagues in boxing well though.

Gary’s family home has also been successfully sold. They now live in Coleview.

With the help of counselling and hypnotherapy, Gary has made significant progress.

“I have slowly got better and better. I’m not 100 per cent and my head still goes at silly things. It’s just such a slow, slow thing to recover from,” he said.

To help other people suffering from mental health issues, Gary has been fundraising for MIND. This has included scaling Snowdon with gym staff, gym members, friends and family.

Gary was also dressed in Lederhosen while he took part in the trek in a bid to raise more funds.

“It felt like we had really achieved something,” he said.

“I want to raise this money because I don’t think anyone deserves to go through mental health issues.

“There are people whose symptoms are a lot worse than mine but when you go through something like this it feels like the worst thing possible for you.

“I don’t think people realise how common it is. Since I have spoken about my anxiety, I have found a lot of people have told me about their own mental health issues. There are so many different types.

“It’s more common than people realise. Whether it’s stress, grieving or anxiety, most people suffer at some point in their life.

“I think since the sad passing of Robin Williams, it’s really brought these types of illness to light.

“I want people to know you’re not alone, and if you don’t feel right, tell someone.”

The Snowdon climb was the first of Gary’s planned fundraisers.

He is involved in mixed martial arts with Swindon Vale Tudo, and is planning an event on February 28 at the MECA to help raise funds.

“The fundraising is just the beginning. I’m already planning another mountain climb,” he said.

“Helping others is a great way to help yourself. Caged UK is a new pro/ amateur MMA event with some fantastic local talent.”

Gary thanked all his friends and family for their support, including his fiancée Louise, and their children Keira and Lacey, who are aged six and three.

He also thanked Stratton Parish Council, particularly clerk Tracy Predith, as well as Grange Leisure Centre and hypnotherapist Dave Chisnall.

To sponsor Gary or the team, drop in your donation at the Leisure Centre in Grange Drive. To keep up to date on Gary’s fundraising with MMA search for Caged UK on Facebook.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.

People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. GAD can cause both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms. These vary from person to person, but can include feeling restless or worried and having trouble concentrating or sleeping.