Cory Barrett, from Kenilworth is a man on a mission to keep active and not let his condition take control of his life.
Cory is in his 40s, a Husband, a Dad and University lecturer in International Fashion. He has had to face a number of setbacks in recent years, because of hidden health issues.
“Fibromyalgia is different for all people that suffer with it, and you wouldn’t know that I suffer with a debilitating condition like this from outward appearances,” explains Cory.
“I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia about 8 years ago which has been so debilitating. Walking became a way to escape from the mental battle and in trying to come to terms with this life-changing condition.”
Since being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Cory’s life has changed significantly. He and his family moved back from the United States of America to Kenilworth, leaving behind a career that he loved and was so passionate about. Rebuilding his family’s world back in Warwickshire and creating new ways to stay motivated and mobile.
“There were some extremely dark times after coming to terms with my limitations and constant pain struggles.
Walking became a key aspect in rehabilitation to keep my body moving, my mind focused and get a break away from the screens. This was even more important during covid times, when I became more isolated. I was also going through a significant period of physical pain and surgery during this time too. Getting out and walking, even if it was in the garden, made such a difference to my mindset and still does to this day.
Cory has shared his story with Think Active, as part of the Moving Stories campaign, because he believes more men, should share and talk about their health and challenges.
“My walking is not long-distance walking or hiking across the countryside. Sometimes I walk around the block, take my daughter to school, walk to pick up my prescriptions and that can be all my body can handle. I have learnt to pace myself and follow my own plan and that’s not keeping up with others but really focusing on what I can do, which is important for my physical and mental wellbeing.” Cory shares.
Cory tries to keep as active and mobile as possible, depending on how his Fibromyalgia is at the time, he tries to walk every other day and has also taken up other activities such as Tai Chi. Before he was diagnosed with the condition, Cory would try to participate in lots of different activities and play sports with his son, he would do swimming, Pilates and yoga but he found that it just aggravated the pain and leave him in a much worse state.
Cory has launched an inspiring group called ‘The Curious Boys Girls Club,’ which is not specifically just for walking, but to support men’s mental health through creative activities. Walking has become a part of what the group offers though, after a partnership with Heart of England Community Rail developed. This partnership got the group to follow a trail in the Rugby countryside, Cory explains:
“We took a group of black / brown men to connect with nature and their own mind using creative activities to tease out conversations and aid our mental health.
Personally, being able to do these longer walks gives me a great sense of achievement, especially working with and supporting more men. It shows me that I can still accomplish great things.”
Cory is very open in talking about how having this condition has changed every part of him: “I am not the same person I was, but I am evolving into a newer version of myself, more connected with my mind, body and soul.”
Cory’s advice to others is to start small, go at your own pace and don’t build unrealistic expectations for yourself.
“The good thing about walking is you don’t need anything special! There is no membership fee, no fancy equipment, you don’t even need footwear, if you just go for a walk in the garden. There is nothing better than walking barefoot on the grass!”
“I’m thankful to my family and friends and some key medical professionals for helping me get to this point. I am ready to take that next step for myself and for my family.”
Think Active have plenty of resources and guidance on how to get started with walking, or many other activities – through their website. Many doctors’ practices and social prescribers can help to sign post and share information on how to get started with a group, or even on your own.
“We are grateful to Cory for sharing his story and being so honest about the hidden condition of Fibromyalgia, which affects many people in society without much recognition of its impact.”
“Cory demonstrates a determination and resilience which is very inspiring and helps to demonstrate the simple little steps people can take, to start a journey to a more active lifestyle.” Explains Abi Dixon from Think Active.
“It doesn’t have to be an expensive or time-consuming thing, and as Cory has demonstrated – just keeping moving and opting to walk in any small opportunity can have a huge positive impact, both physically and mentally.”
For more ideas and information about how to start your own Moving Story – visit: www.thinkactive.org