Wendy's Story

12 May 2023

Wendy is a fifty-something who has completed The Push-Up Challenge not once, but twice. She pushed with us in 2021 and 2022 as part of her team, Leah Redden Fitness. As a first-responder with PTSD, Wendy says exercise has been a powerful medicine in her mental health recovery. 


Are you a regular push-uperer, or did the challenge push you outside your comfort zone?  

I try to incorporate push-ups at least twice per week as part of my strength training. But of course, I don’t do nearly as many push-ups that I do as part of the challenge. I was out of my comfort zone and it was an effort at times. 


Why did you decide to sign up to The Push-Up Challenge? 

I entered The Push-Up Challenge to improve my fitness and mental health.  Also to be part of my team, Leah Redden Fitness, who are a very supportive group of 50-year-old-plus women. 


Have you had your own experience with mental health challenges? 

I suffered depression from 1991, when my first child was born. My mental health was also impacted by my employment as a first responder for 32 years. In 2015, I attended the scene of a suicide. As a first responder, it wasn’t the first suicide I attended in my career. But this one was personal. The person involved was the 19-year-old daughter of a good friend who was one of my training partners for running and riding.  

This death hit me really hard. I took a month off work, I withdrew from training and socially. I ended up transferring away from the small country town that was my home for 9 years. At my darkest times, I thought that there was no way out of the deep dread of depression that I was experiencing. With counselling and the support of family and friends, I pulled through after a number of years.  


How did exercise help you pull yourself out when you were in a tough place? 

Exercise is my continual medicine. I have thrown myself into running and other exercises since I started suffering what I now know to be PTSD. I started running seriously around 1993. It gives me a purpose to keep going, and I enter events so that I continually have an aim.  

This year, I ran two half marathons and next year I have two triathlons. Exercise gives me natural endorphins and vitamin D from getting out in the sun. And, I am very proud to say that at the age of 59, I am not on any medication whatsoever. 


Where are you at in your recovery journey now?  

I owe my life to exercise and support from counselling, my GPs and family and friends. I am happy to say that I have not experienced depression since 2018, when I finally started looking after my own wellbeing and made the hard decision to end my career. That decision ultimately saved my life. I no longer regret the decision and now I am truly happy in retirement. It is not worth holding onto a job that is destroying your life, you can always move on and apply for another job where you are happy and enjoying life.  


Do you have any advice for other people who are experiencing depression?

I strongly suggest, no matter how hard it is, to talk to someone about your mental health. If you’re struggling, confide in someone who will listen and not judge. Talk to a close family member or friend. When you are ready, start to get out and exercise, even walking. Don’t dwell on the negative thoughts/things. Try to find one positive thing, every day, no matter how small it is. Don’t focus your entire energy on the negative things, it will consume you. Most of all, stay positive and you will slowly improve and move forward. 


What was the best thing about your experience participating in The Push-Up Challenge?  

The best thing was participating as part of a well-balanced and supportive team of women who became life-long friends. 


Need a push to prioritise your physical health? The Push-Up Challenge 2023 kicks off on 1 June. Register now and join the push for better mental health.