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“Finding the Boxer Within”: Vickie Simos on fighting mental health issues with Martial Arts

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Born to Greek migrant parents in 1974 in South Australia’s Riverland, Vickie Simos always found it challenging as a child and adolescent to fit in. 

Years later, after she punched self-doubt and self-deprecation on the face, she made a comeback and with her memoir ‘The Boxer Within,” aims to inspire others find their passion and purpose.

“I moved to Adelaide at 19 and at around 21 I realised I had a problem – mental health issue. I felt something wasn’t right inside. I went to my local Greek GP who told me there was nothing wrong with me. 

“He made me feel stupid and embarrassed, so I never thought about it again, until that is the problems started to arise again. I was carrying around a lot of anger and didn’t know why,” says the psychotherapist, counsellor and personal trainer. 

Simos started training in Martial Arts (MA) when she was 25 in a very “unorthodox way” and although she tried different types of styles and systems, it was boxing that won her over. 

“Boxing had the greatest effect on me. It brought my emotions to the surface; it would make you or break you,” she says.

It was almost at the same time that she also started seeking therapy options. 

“I had all these emotions, but didn’t know what to do with them. With MA and therapy combined, by competing overseas and locally and having people believe in me, I started to believe in myself. With that belief came confidence and this is how I unleashed ‘the boxer within’.”

Referring to role her Greek upbringing played in her life journey, Simos explains that it pushed her to excel.  

“I did not want to struggle as much as my family did. They worked hard picking grapes and cutting apricots, something my siblings and I also did. It was a very hard job and not for everyone. 

So, watching and being a part of that, pushed me to want more, be more, to create opportunities, even if this meant working multiple jobs,” Vickie says, explaining why she now wants to help others. 

“If some people didn’t give me a chance, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Helping others find the best version of themselves is what gives me the greatest joy.” 

For the last decade Vickie has been involved in working with children, with various programs including Melbourne Kids Developmental Services, and the Active After School communities’ program, as well as mentoring and volunteering at various schools and organisations.

Commenting on the surge in families seeking guidance for their parenting amid ongoing mental health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic in children and adolescents, Simos has a simple advice.

“Listen to your children, don’t label what is going on for your child, don’t judge your child, and do everything you can to help them,” she concludes.

*Vickie Simos is also the owner of ‘Thelo’ Active Therapy which uses Martial Arts as an alternative or combination to mainstream therapy. To find out more visit www.theloactivetherapy.com . You can purchase Vickie’s “Finding the Boxer Within” book, on Amazon, Book Depository or Booktopia.

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