An Ode to Wicker Camp


An Ode to Wicker Camp.

In answer to the question ‘does anyone know the real me?’  the answer would have to be a resounding no.  Does anyone ever really know another human being?  We may think we know what makes a significant other tick, what drives them, what keeps them strong, what insecurities plague them.  However, aren’t we just responding to what another individual will allow us to see and observe?  We all play different roles in our lives and show different sides of ourselves depending on the interaction, be it with peers, lovers, colleagues, parents and the list goes on and on.

‘A lost soul’ is how I’ve been described in the past by a person that knows (or thinks he knows) me fairly well, but is this a true reflection of who I really am?  The truth is, I feel like a paradox of a person and ‘a million different people from one day to the next’.  I’ve had a propensity towards depression for as long as I can remember.  I ended up in hospital for it aged 19 but never admitted to a single soul what I already knew it was, until 13 years later.  Depression has a stigma attached to it that, in my opinion, still exists today.  Am I mad or crazy? No, I don’t think so.  Do I struggle with life sometimes and with being happy and fulfilled?  Yes very much so.  I’ve known this for 13 years but not a single soul knew.  I wore my smile like a coat of armour and felt too ashamed to admit what I was wrestling with.  My family didn’t know, my friends had no idea and any boyfriends I had would have been shocked to find out ‘my little secret’.  In fact, when my Dad was asked recently what he thought my best quality was, he replied my outgoing and confident personality…. a complete contrast to how I was used to viewing myself but at least the disguise was working.

When Mick asked me to write something for the website I said I’d only do it if it was anonymous.  However, I then realised that would be playing into the hands of people everywhere that think those suffering from depression should just ‘pull themselves together’.  What I actually think myself and others should do is not shy away from it.  Talk about it, face it head on, turn it into a positive and most of all, never let it beat you.  For me, that’s where Wicker Camp came in….

When I saw the sign outside the gym I was instantly drawn to it and the claims it made about Muay Thai.  However, that familiar devil I’d got used to sitting on my shoulder was haunting me with doubts – what if I can’t do it? What if it’s full of men? What if everyone hates me? What if I’m the most unfit person there? What if I fall over? What if I look like a fool? I was bored of my usual gym though and running had started to feel like I was running away from something (which I was). Granted, I was fairly physically fit but I’d never done any martial arts before and I hated and struggled with unknown social situations.  I felt shy, insecure, struggled to speak to people I didn’t know and wasn’t really that interested in meeting people or making friends.  I had enough friends.  Or so I thought.  Social Network theory states that making just one new friend is the health equivalent of giving up smoking.  Now I’ve never been one for the fags but if this is true then let’s just say that by joining Wicker I’ve certainly added years to my life span.

Upon initially starting at Wicker, I’m not going to lie – I was petrified!  I found it daunting, scary and totally out of my comfort zone.  The first few weeks there I would be physically shaking before each class. Gradually though, I started to realise I was experiencing feelings I never expected.  Along with feeling fitter and challenged in a way I never had before, I felt exhilarated, confident and most of all happy. I was using muscles I never even knew I had and, most surprisingly to me, I was making new friends.

For the past 2 years or so Muay Thai boxing and Wicker Camp have been a constant in my life that I feel has changed me as a person.  Meeting Mick and Trix and the whole team at Wicker has honestly been a big turning point in my life and they probably don’t even know it. It’s not just a gym to me, it’s a second family. I feel proud to be a part of that and would recommend it to anyone – any age, sex or fitness level.  When people think of Thai boxing they probably think of aggression and fighting, but anyone that’s ever had a taste of it will tell you there’s so much more to it than that.  To me, Wicker Camp is about so much more.  It’s also about connectedness – ‘a sense of being a part of something larger than oneself.  It is a sense of belonging, or a sense of accompaniment.  It is that feeling in your bones that you are not alone.  It is a sense that, no matter how scary things may become, there is a hand for you in the dark.  While ambition drives us to achieve, connectedness is my word for the force that urges us to ally, to affiliate, to enter into mutual relationships, to take strength and to grow through cooperative behaviour.”  Edward M. Hallowell’.


When I’m training it’s me and the pads, the smell of Thai oil mixed with sweat and determination and the will to push through the pain barrier. Nothing else matters.  It’s catharsis at its very best.   I forget that I feel lost.  I forget that my life has not gone down the conventional route of what is accepted and deemed as ‘normal’ in today’s society.  I forget that sometimes I avoid looking in mirrors because I hate what I see staring back at me. It makes me feel strong when I feel weak.  It makes me feel confident when I’m plagued by insecurities and shyness.  It makes me feel like I matter when inside I’ve felt worthless.   I am strong.  I am confident.  I am beautiful.  I matter.  I am perfectly imperfect and I am more than happy with that.  I am ME.  This is what Wicker Camp means to me.




Joanne King


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