WARNING: This story contains content related to suicide.
Shirley Fisher is five feet tall and 110 pounds, but feels 10 feet tall when she puts on her boxing gloves.
Fisher came to Fredericton from Taiwan in 2009 and started working at a pizza shop. She and her husband wanted to start a family and had a little girl.
During the pandemic, she lost her job, and her memories of childhood sexual abuse and trauma took over.
"So what happened to me made me very suicidal," she said. "If I'm saying that I had wanted to kill myself about a million times, I am not exaggerating and I'm not kidding."
But her desire to get better remained. She was diagnosed with PTSD and borderline personality disorders 10 years ago, and she was still seeking help from counsellors and doctors. She was determined to survive.
This is why Fisher is working to be certified as a boxing and weightlifting trainer and start a business where she can provide self-defence and training classes to non-profits, and organizations serving low-income women. She also plans to target newcomers who may not have the language or means to be empowered by themselves.
"Whether you are a woman from a new country, you don't speak English and you don't have money, you can't afford to go to our gym or you are a non-profit worker, anyone," she said.
She said she will officially register her business in November and will be counting on getting hired by non-profits who get funding of $5,000 from the province for fitness classes.
Fisher said she drew on nurses and doctors and leaned on her family to get her through. During counselling, she was told to stick with three golden rules: Fight for her own happiness, exercise and do something creative, and help others.
"If I feel down or feel negative, I always redirect my energy to something more positive."
Fisher said for people who are struggling, the best thing to keep in mind is it can always get better. And just like anyone can start boxing, anyone can make it through dark thoughts.
"Everybody can do it, not only people who are smart and special," she said.
"Surround yourself with good people and never give up and then take care of yourself. Give yourself a chance."
If you are in crisis or know someone who is, here is where to get help:
CHIMO hotline: 1-800-667-5005 / http://www.chimohelpline.ca
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868, Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca
Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566