Through my struggles with depression and MS, I became a poet

Tue 01 August 2023

Over the last 7 years I’ve really struggled with my MS diagnosis. And all the weird and not so wonderful symptoms (self catheterisation, really!) that MS can bring.

Depression and fatigue are probably my two biggest problems. But I needed to remain strong and find an outlet. Somewhere to help release the pain.

My outlet is poetry and I can't recommend it enough.

Beneath the Tracksuit

My wife suggested I share my poems over the web to help others and raise awareness. Reluctantly I agreed - and it was the best thing I did with it.

I share my poetry under the name ‘Beneath the Tracksuit’. My MS, anxiety and depression are mostly invisible and I live in tracksuits. They are so comfortable and easy to wear, so the name was easy.

After launching Beneath the Tracksuit on Facebook and Instagram, I started making like-minded friends across the globe. I helped other people get through some tough times with my words.

So I put pen to paper and I wrote a book called ‘Thoughts of a Warrior’. It's about my life with MS. I’ve put some of my pain and struggle into words and my book has sold worldwide, with amazing reviews. It’s hard to describe how I feel about that. By my feelings are of sheer positivity. It was such an amazing achievement.

MS took me from my career as a kitchen fitter. But through my struggles with depression and MS, I started a new one:

Robbie from Beneath the Tracksuit,

 An MS Warrior Poet.

A black and white profile shot of Robbie wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses and

Opening up new opportunities

Since the release of my first book I've had some fantastic opportunities. I continue to write, share and support others. I even started my second book.

 I became friends with an artist from California, Atom St George. He has MS too and we’re working on a collective: The Painter and the Poet.

Our collaboration is all based around MS and mental health issues. MS brought us together from across the planet and we work well together through the timezone issues. We have such a fantastic connection. Our shared goal is even though we have MS, we’ll still be able to achieve great things.

I was selected by House of Morvil recording studios to record my poetry as spoken word along with music with a local recording artist, Ruinarte. We’ve since released it as a single called "what would you do?" (Beneath the Tracksuit x Ruinarte) It's available to be streamed on all music platforms and it's already been played in over 20 countries.

We’re currently working on a small album based around MS and mental health.

Writing has been a game changer

I'm slowly working my way through my second book, as well as a creative writing journal for others to maybe follow my path in writing. It’s been a game changer in my struggles. I'd love other people to maybe take it up too. I'm really looking forward to the direction my new career is going.

I still struggle with my symptoms. Fatigue and depression are still the biggest problems for me. I'm always adapting the way I use my time and trying to pay attention to what my body is telling me. This has become my best way of handling my diagnosis, my family life and my new career path.

Robbie, wearing his tracksuit, standing in front of a microphone.

I sleep a few times a day. I remain active but I try not to over exert myself. I try to maintain a healthy social life. I have fantastic support from my wife and my 2 children who all play a vital role with ‘Beneath the Tracksuit’.

MS has taken a lot from me but it helped me grow a career that I would have never pursued. It’s brought me friends that I otherwise would have never met.

 I may have this illness and I may live with the obstacles it’s presented in my life, but I will continue to adjust. And I will do my best to overcome them. Most importantly I will never give up.

Being diagnosed with MS isn't the end of the road but the beginning of a new one.

Read more about Robbie.

Get emotional support

Please remember if you need emotional support, our MS Helpline is available on 0808 800 8000 or email [email protected]. We’re here Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm except bank holidays. You can also can call Samaritans 24 hours a day from any phone, on 116 123