Real Life

Real life: Boxing saved my life

I had to find a way to be the best mum I could.
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Tyler Rodgers, 23, from Christchurch, NZ, shares her story:

I swallowed the huge lump in my throat as I tucked my six-month-old daughter, Sienna, up in her cot.

“Good night, sweetheart,” I whispered.

I’d barely closed her bedroom door before I burst in to a flood of tears.

Three months had passed since my fiancé William had taken his own life and I’d spiralled into a deep depression.

Sienna had lost her father before she’d even got to know him and I’d lost the love of my life.

I was only 19 years old. I had no idea how I was going to raise my daughter alone.

I spent six months moping around in a haze of grief before I knew I had to change.

“He’s not coming back,” I said to Mum. “So I need to get my act together and be the best mother I can be.”

She nodded sympathetically.

I just had to work out how to start rebuilding my life.

I will always love William.

Then my mind drifted back to a few years earlier, when I’d taken up boxing at my local gym.

I’d really enjoyed the exercise and it had given me something to focus on.

So I picked up the phone and called my old boxing coach, Stu.

“I want to get back in the ring,” I told him.

I was nervous when I turned up for my first session.

I’d put on a few kilos while I’d been down in the dumps and felt really sluggish.

But my fears soon melted away once I started pounding the pads.

“You’ve still got it,” Stu said encouragingly.

As I built my strength over the following months, I felt the weight of the world slowly lifting off my shoulders .

I found myself enjoying my time with Sienna more and I really looked forward to seeing my friends at the gym.

I’d been training for five months when Stu scheduled my first amateur boxing match.

Bouncing around the ring, jabbing away, I felt as though William and Sienna were cheering me on.

Being in the ring got me through.

I got a rush of adrenaline when I was announced as the winner.

“I’m so proud of you,” Mum said.

That inspired me to study to become a fitness instructor myself.

When I secured a job as a suicide prevention officer at a Maori health and well-being organisation, I wanted to introduce boxing classes so I could help others lift their spirits.

“It will give them a focus,” I told my boss.

Thankfully, my classes have been a huge success and I now hold nine sessions every week.

The feedback has been great and it’s really bonded some of the schoolgirls and mums together.

More than three years have passed since we lost William and I still miss him every day.

Me and my beautiful daughter, Sienna.

I constantly talk to Sienna about him and we visit his grave often.

She’ll always know who her father was and how much he loved her.

Some people may think boxing is an unusual suicide prevention tool but it brought me back from the brink when I was at my lowest point.

I have no doubt it saved my life and made me a better mother.

If teaching other women to pound the pads can help them on their journey from darkness to light, it’s well worth the fight.

If you, or someone you know, needs to talk to someone, call Lifeline on 13 11 44. Or, if it is an emergency and you’re experiencing a crisis, call 000 NOW.

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