How Mixed Martial Arts Helped Me Combat PPD and PTSD


It's undeniable how much of a channel mixed martial arts serves as not only a disciplinary branch of physical development for recreational and combat purposes, but also mental as well.


After my fourth trimester was over and my body slowly started feeling ready to handle more work load, I eased my way into implementing slightly more challenging tasks in my weightlifting and kickboxing routine.


It's undeniable how much of a channel mixed martial arts serves as not only a disciplinary branch of physical development for recreational and combat purposes, but also mental as well.

Kickboxing weaved into my strength training and mobility regimen was the element I needed consistently -other than my spiritual walk with God- that seemed to keep me at ease. It helped me be able to navigate the landmine of emotional bombs that seemed to lay ahead of me after my traumatic birth experiences that brought on severe postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as result.


The mind is heavily connected to the body and that connection leaves a corresponding relationship between the two. If your body is positively and negatively affected, your mind is reflecting that and vice versa.


It's up to us to take tactical steps to become very aware of how the blueprint of our mind is working and constructed so we can remove and replace what we need to in order to build a better mental architecture to function from.


The clefts of our mind can sometimes do a really good job concealing things subconsciously buried that are then surfaced by unexpected triggers by the experiences our minds and bodies record. This then sends us into a mental state of struggle that really hinders your ability to interact optimally with everyday life, regardless of what it might be. It's a residual stain that taints everything you do.


We each fight micro wars every day. I don't do mixed martial arts because I am training for a fight in the ring for spectators, but I do it because I use it as a way to transmute what it teaches me and the areas it refines me so I can transplant it into my daily interaction with my trials and struggles.

Left unchecked, and in a manner that isn't influenced in a healthier and more productive way, it will leave more compounding issues that will leave you overwhelmed. It will leave you emotionally incapacitated, and no one wants to live like that.

When I got diagnosed with postpartum depression and PTSD, I knew if I allowed myself to fall victim to its influence, it was going to hinder my ability to be present and show up fully for not only myself, but my kids and my husband.


We each fight micro wars every day. I don't do mixed martial arts because I am training for a fight in the ring for spectators, but I do it because I use it as a way to transmute what it teaches me and the areas it refines me in so I can transplant it into my daily interaction with my trials and struggles.

The physical discipline that I forge within the confines of training allow me to convey that same discipline application to the way I combat PPD and PTSD.


I don't do it to win the hearts of spectators, but rather I do it because my livelihood depends on it and so does that of my children and husband. I show up to fight what threatens me so I can conquer it and the fear lessens every time I win. When I show up willing to fight it, I learn more about my enemy every time and come back more tactical and strategic so I become undefeated no matter how many rematches it demands of me.


When I meet physical and mental discomfort within the process of putting my body in submission of exerting it through combos, muscular burn out, fatigue, etc. (because I know my mind gives up before my body does), I try to transmit that same determination of pushing past the training challenges into how I view my PPD and PTSD. I allow room to be gentle with myself and not expect perfection, but at the same time I don't want to permit myself to be consumed by the opponent in the ring of my mind to overtake me and tap me out, so-to-speak.


Depression and PTSD are robbers of joy and contentment. They remind you of a present weakness that you have and MMA allowed me to access a weapon I could use to fight back. It sounds weird, but it seriously served as legitimate therapy for me. I'd finish a session, whether with my coach or individually, and it would be like the weight of that weakness would be gone.

Of course it would revisit me, but the point was, whenever it reared its ugly head consistently, I would combat it with the same weapon in my arsenal I trained my body and mind to rely on because I knew it was effective.


Different things work for different people of course, but I am simply sharing how MMA helped me with my rounds with PPD and PTSD. Even now, being pregnant with my third baby due in November, I still wrestle with triggers and "episodes" that intimidate me and send me into a feeling of fear. Regardless, I let myself be human and acknowledge the intervals of struggle and commit to grappling it out the same way I always do. In the same way I train my body into submission to perform under the demands and discipline of MMA, I "speak" to my PPD and PTSD until they yield and dissolve.


Sometimes it can feel like PPD and PTSD (or any other emotional or psychological struggle you have) keeps coming back like a pesky weed. The key is to realize that as the gardener of your mind, you get to choose whether to let it grow out of control or rip it right out and keep it under management.

Our minds are in constant need of weeding out the negatives that bombard our lives with inconvenience and discomfort, but the more we implement proactive action to address it and put it under submission of our ownership over it, it will not hold power over us. We get to choose what occupies the garden of our minds and unfruitful weeds have no place there.


Depression and PTSD are robbers of joy and contentment. They remind you of a present weakness that you have and MMA allowed me to access a weapon I could use to fight back.

The other way mixed martial arts has really helped me pacify my agitation stirred up from PPD and PTSD is because shadowboxing has served as a meditative tool to zone out “internally” and become hyperaware of the way I’m feeling and what I’m thinking. Most of the time I am doing it accompanied by music, and it starts to keep me focused on a rhythm that instigates a flow state, and vessel to escort out my negative, pent up energy.

My negative gets shape-shifted into a source that becomes more beneficial and useful for me through repetitive routine of shadowing. How? What do I mean?

I mean when you train your mind to make certain emotional and mental connections to things that are expressed and acted out physically on a consistent basis, and it’s essentially engraved as muscle memory, every time you live it out in expression, the emotional chemical reaction replicates every time. I made a positive association to the act of shadowboxing as therapy to regulate and tame my anxiety, PPD, PTSD and overall physical restlessness and agitation as a way to meditate, relax and become calm and composed.

It’s like when I have anxiety at night and I trained my mind to fall asleep to the same calming, soothing music composition. At first it took time, but eventually my brain made the connection that every time I played it, it meant it was time for me to have a restful sleep; not be anxious. The brain’s recognition of the cue sent literal physical signals that promoted the response I needed.

In the same way, I trained my brain to link shadowboxing -or just mixed martial arts in general- as a means to cue my body’s output of anxiety and depression and trauma response and flip a switch where I became physically lulled and calmed. Easing the impact of those negative emotions and instead shifting it to a positive.

The point is, however, that I trained my mind and body to make that association. It can take time and effort but I’ll admit for a big portion of it, it came as a natural reaponse. I like to think my body and mind chose its own form of effective therapy and I was intuitive enough to comply for my own good.


So there you have it. I could technically keep discussing the amazing benefits that mixed martial arts have given me just to help address my PPD and PTSD alone, along with so many other things. For now, I will leave you digesting everything I've left you with in this blog post and hope it can serve as an option for you to venture in and explore so you can win against your own micro wars.


Get it, like a boss!