Challenging PTSD - one push up at a time
Do you ever feel hopeless, numb, or bad about yourself? Is the thought of driving your car into a brick wall ever crossing your mind? Have you experienced deep feelings of guilt and felt you are not good enough? Thoughts of suicide can come and go and are considered to be symptoms of four little letters with debilitating effects in your day to day life: PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
David Baum, created The 365 Challenge to raise awareness of the effects of PTSD through exercise. He is sharing his unique solution for metal health challenges and he is on a mission to help millions of people who are suffering with PTSD.
David and his amazing wife Mel suffered a myriad of events including both of their sons surviving major surgery and both, at times, close to death. The final straw for David was when Mel was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and he began carrying the guilt of telling her not to see the doctor, fortunately she didn’t listen to him and went to the hospital, and her diagnosis was confirmed: grade 5 cancer. It was when David found himself sitting in his car seriously asking himself: ’If I drove my car at that wall, would I end the pain I am in?’
When he start thinking of the ripples of his actions and how it would impact on Mel, who was already struggling with two boys and chemo, the boys, his parents, his family, Mel’s family, he realised that ending his life was a luxury he couldn’t afford… and, eventually, couldn’t go through with it. Fortunately the people he was working with at the time saw that he had lost his sparkle, his mojo and was just functioning and helped him talk about it, get help. ‘Counselling saved my life.’ David says. This is a glimpse at his story, a story of courage and second chances, that will be soon published in ‘‘Your Stardust Story- 1001 Inspirational People’
‘I then began to think of my experience and that of Mel surviving cancer and the trauma she went through, our sons and I realised that it wasn’t just few thousands of men, women and children who are suffering, but 100,000’s. This can be someone who, like Mel, survived cancer, or a parent whose child has died or been kidnapped or harmed, someone who is gay but too frightened to be open, somebody who is been made redundant, or survived an atrocity such as Westminster Bridge, witnessed it first hand or just seeing it on tv, a child whose parent is killed- all this and more, the list is endless, can be the cause of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
According to the Samaritan’s in 2015, 4,600 men took their own lives in the UK. Recently it was disclosed that 25% of all deaths can be attributed to Mental Health.
When I looked at the bigger picture, I finally understood that I am not alone, and more importantly, that there are solutions and nobody should feel alone! I decided to do something about it and created The 365 Challenge. At the time I had worked out that films of me doing press ups was being seen by around 500 – 1,000 times a month and as The 365 Challenge is a fitness based challenge (but not solely), I felt it should also be linked to a gym.
I approached Brigid Mansfield of The Gym Watford, who without any hesitation said ‘Yes, bring it to Watford!’ Brigid has since confided that she thought that it would increase footfall, but as she discovered it created something more valuable positive publicity. Around six weeks after I started filming sessions in the Gym, Brigid phoned me and asked what I was saying in my films, I explained that each film started the same way “my name is David Baum I created The 365 Challenge to raise awareness of the effects of PTSD through exercise and we’re being supported by The Gym Watford”.
Brigid started to laugh and went on to explain that she had been receiving calls from head office and on line messages asking about The 365 Challenge and she was delighted with the publicity I had created. What I didn’t tell Brigid was from 500 – 1000 views a month my films were being around 10,000 times a month and had people from places such as Sydney, Pennsylvania & Hong Kong asking if they could take part. When I said yes, I was then asked about the rules how much did they need to raise etc. They were shocked and pleased when I explained the rules of The 365 Challenge.
1) Unlike Fight Club we don’t just talk about The 365 Challenge, we shout about it.
2) You do not ask anyone for sponsorship.
3) You do not nominate anyone to take part, but you can ask.
4) You must film your session and post on social media.
5) The first 100 sessions you must do 22 reps, of any exercise, the next 100 it becomes 30, the next 100 it becomes 40 reps and the final 65 sessions it becomes 50 reps.
6) There are no more rules.
Since then The 365 Challenge has been adopted by all of the gyms within The Gym Group after being approved of by John Treharne. Since then a number of companies have joined in supporting The 365 Challenge including my own company WCR (obviously) Metro Bank, 4 Networking & Gerald Edelman.’
What has The 365 Challenge achieved?
‘The first thing is I have been told that over 200 people have sort help from counsellors listed on our website. I have received emails from around the World thanking me for helping to make people aware that PTSD doesn’t only effect those in the armed services.’
What happens now?
‘The 365 Challenge is evolving. It was announced earlier this year following events such as the Manchester bombing, Grenfell Tower the escalation in gun and knife crime it has been calculated that over the next 10 years around 15,000 children (defined as those under 16) will be diagnosed as suffering from PTSD or other mental illness caused by a traumatic episode.
The problem is the NHS, will be unable to cope with this additional drain on their resources as these children will fall outside of what is perceived as a child. It has also been recognised that too many parents will be unable to afford to send a child to a private counsellor, so something has to be done. Therefore Melanie & I have set ourselves a fresh challenge and that is over the next 5 years to raise £1 million pounds so that no child can be deprived of counselling on the grounds that their parents cannot afford it.
One last thing, I’m often asked now that I completed the 365 Sessions what do I do, am I resting? The answer is no. Firstly, I created the next stage which is the same as The Challenge but instead of a set number of reps, it’s how many reps can be done in a time period starting with 120 seconds, followed by 150 seconds, 180 seconds and finally 210.
As one of the best “cures” for mental illness is laughter, I have also created Frivolous Friday which is all about being filmed being very silly for 2 – 3 minutes. Consequently, if you look on say Facebook or Instagram or Twitter and YouTube you’ll find film of me with Melanie and or Oliver prancing around often in Pink Tutu’s doing a version of a Highland Fling, or having a pillow fight or performing a version of The Mexican Hat Dance (with pink Stetsons) or a Charleston in fact anything goes. These films are the most watched out of everything I or we do.
How do you overcome the thought of driving your car into a brick wall when this thought is crossing your mind?
‘You start by finding someone to talk to, not someone who will judge you but someone who can offer you ways to unburden yourself of the pain of the emotional baggage that we all carry. At the same time go for a walk in the park and we have some great parks. While you’re out take a moment to sit and look at the trees and plants in other words enjoy nature. You can go to the gym, a bike ride, go for a swim, listen to music or try to spend time with people you love. If you want to have a cry it doesn’t make you less of a man. Whatever you do, DO NOT pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start again! However if you want to help change the World take up The 365 Challenge.