Imagine finding the courage to immerse yourself in an ice bath for anywhere between seven and 30 minutes? Now imagine doing that every day for an entire year…
Ewan Diven, a Crew Commander with Scottish FRS, is taking on this epic challenge in aid of us this year, as a thank you for the support he received and to spread the word about how closely linked our physical health can be with our mental wellbeing.
Ewan, 38, first got in touch with us in 2022 following a back injury. However, he says it was the mental wellbeing impact his injury had on him which he hadn’t expected – and a visit to Harcombe House on our Reset Programme gave him the vital tools he needed to move forward positively with his life.
“My back had been bothering me for some time, so much so I’d already contacted the Charity for a consultation,” says Ewan. “Then, a week before I was due to have that, I was at work running laps round the station to keep fit and my back completely gave in. It turned out it was a prolapsed and herniated disc.
“I was bedbound from there for over three weeks. I couldn’t get up at all, I was completely horizontal the whole time.”
Ewan was able to join his pre-booked video call with us as planned and it led to further support from there.
“I managed to still have that first scheduled consultation from bed and that started a series of video calls with one of the Physiotherapists, who gave me some mobility techniques and exercises which were just incredible,” adds Ewan.
“I slowly started gaining movement back each week, with a call every fortnight, and was then invited to Jubilee House in the October.
“The variety of what’s on offer is great. You think you’re just going to work on your injury, but there’s also help to mentally prepare you for potential setbacks and the whole aspect of nutrition even.
“I loved the swimming in particular though. I hadn’t even thought about doing the aerobic side of things in the water but you’d come out feeling like you’d had a thorough workout.”
While Ewan says the week proved incredibly beneficial, both physically and mentally, he went on to experience further challenges with his mental health in the months that followed.
“I was desperate to get back to work after Jubilee House, but obviously knew I wasn’t ready physically,” says Ewan. “That began to really weigh on me and started impacting my mental wellbeing.
“I’d gone from a very busy day-to-day life, my firefighting and also being a carpenter, to then not doing anything and just lying there. I really struggled with that. I had too much time to think then. I was struggling to sleep and I was also becoming very short with people, which isn’t me at all. I really wasn’t myself. I’m fortunate that I recognised that fairly early.
“I’d actually had the chance to speak to a Psychological Therapist while I was at Jubilee House, to find out a bit more about what’s available through the Charity, so when I started struggling I got back in touch and received a couple of phone calls early in the year.
“They invited me down to Harcombe House on the Reset Programme in the April.
“That programme – I’d like to say it changed my life. It taught me to prioritise things a little bit more and not worry about things I can’t control. It helped me focus on things that are actually happening at the time and being in control of what’s in the here and now.
“Just be mindful of your wellbeing and get those tools as early as you can.”
“I’ll always remember a quote from one of the workshops, saying we spend nearly three quarters of our lives thinking about stuff that never actually happens, and very little time in the moment.”
He adds: “To this day I still do my mindfulness walks. I don’t even put my step counter on and turn my phone off. You actually feel mentally refreshed and energised when you get back.”
Ewan took the tools he’d learned at Harcombe House home with him, and continued building on them, then returned to Jubilee House in July this year to complete his physical recovery.
Our Physiotherapists were able to provide a report for Ewan’s fire and rescue service, which helped to get him operational again a week after visiting us.
“I’ve since been told that doing the exercises from the start, with your support, meant I was able to avoid surgery,” says Ewan. “I just wish I’d got in touch a couple of weeks sooner than I did, and that’s something I’d stress to anyone. It’s never too early. Just be mindful of your wellbeing and get those tools as early as you can.”
Ewan has already raised over £500 for us with his year-long fundraiser, and hopes to keep building on that until the end of 2023.
Each day, he’ll either fill a barrel full of icy water or jump in a freezing cold loch, immersing himself for a minimum of seven minutes each time – sometimes up to half an hour.
“There’s so many ways you can support this Charity, whether it’s a regular donation, a fundraiser like mine, playing the Lottery or even donating clothes to the clothing banks. It all makes a difference,” he adds.
To support Ewan’s fundraiser, click here.
If you have underlying health conditions (i.e. heart disease, asthma, lung conditions) or any other medical conditions that might be affected by exposure to cold water, or if you are pregnant, then please seek appropriate medical advice before proceeding.