A challenging and disrupted childhood left Vidura lost, failing, and in the depths of depression. But when he discovered street dance, his whole life started moving to a brighter beat
I have suffered from mental illness and psychological problems since I was a child, struggling with sleep, memory issues, and depression. My brain would have little moments of chaos, during which I would withdraw socially, to let it settle, so that I could deal with the pain.
Looking back now, it is clear that I was never destined to be ‘normal’. Back then, though, I didn’t know I had a problem.
My life changed dramatically when my parents moved to the UK when I was 12 years old. I found it difficult to adapt to the change – a change I didn’t really want.
I faced so many challenges growing up in a foreign country. Trying to adapt to a new culture, new school, and a new society wasn’t easy. Not having a support network made things a lot more difficult. The relatives and friends I had known were gone, and eventually I lost all purpose.
Financially things got tough, too. It wasn’t long before I was sucked into a depression, from which it would take me almost 10 years to recover.
I constantly broke down during my secondary school years. The depression was a huge weight on my shoulders. I hid it from most people, and dealt with it on my own as best I could. I became suicidal by my mid-teens. My life was a constant battle.
Despite all of this, I still did well in my GCSEs, getting into a really good sixth form. Even after I broke down, I picked up my books and I studied.
As a child, when I couldn’t sleep, I would imagine that one day there would be an asteroid heading toward the Earth, and I would be the one who would save the world. So there was still something inside my brain telling me that I could achieve something great. I kept going, but as the years rolled by, I got weaker and weaker.
When I started university in 2007, I had lost my will and was tired of the pain. I then failed every examination. I was lost, looking for a purpose – but soon things would start to change.
One day I was in a bar, and one of my friends did an arm wave dance move. It was cool, and I thought: “Hmm, this is what I need to do to get the girls.”
So, I learnt to dance from YouTube, but I was pretty terrible. After my friends laughed at a video I made, I decided I needed professional street dance lessons. I booked in for a class at the Basement Dance Studio in London, not knowing what to expect.
I arrived early for the lesson and waited for the teacher. A guy called Sep walked in. He shook my hand and put on the music to practise while he waited for the rest of the students to arrive. He stood in front of the mirror body-popping, and it blew my mind. I had never seen a professional street artist before, and my life changed from that moment.
Sep also introduced me to break-dancing (B-boying) and, as crazy as it may sound, I made it my goal to win Britain’s Got Talent. I took a year out of university and trained day and night, both popping and B-boying. I soon met Sep’s dance crew, Goodfoot UK, who invited me to train with them.
Learn not to give up, and find a goal to battle towards. If you have a vision it can help you drive through your problems
When I walked in to the studio with Goodfoot for the first time, I was amazed. They were one of the best professional street dance crews in the UK at the time, travelling and performing for big artists. To be in a room with them was intimidating but inspiring. I learnt so much.
The dance ambition gave me a goal in life. It also bought something I did not expect – relief inside my brain. I had received psychiatric therapy to help with my issues, but nothing came close to the cure that dancing brought.
It wasn’t a fix, but it helped me so much. I found over the years that exercise was the key to helping me get through.
Once the gap year was over, I was ready to go back to university to recover from my failure. I had two years left and I needed to smash it.
The next two years at university were the path to recovery, and were two of the best years of my life. I studied hard and danced like there was no tomorrow.
Day by day my health got better, and so did my studies. I eventually recovered to graduate with a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering, and my dancing also improved a lot. It was the happiest that I had felt for a long time, and looking back to my darkest teenage days, what I had achieved was unthinkable.
At graduation, I still wasn’t good enough to become a professional dancer, so I looked for a job. I eventually landed one at Rolls-Royce as an engineer. My dancing stopped because of relocation and work. I did very well and got promotions, but two years later I felt that my mental health issues were coming back. I needed an active life.
I got back to dancing, trained alongside some of the best dancers in the UK, and within a few years I went on to perform on several big stages – including a performance at UK’s Best Dance Act competition at the Glasgow Exhibition Centre. I felt an amazing sense of achievement.
I then left my job to work with children in education and entertainment. Today I work in schools, talking to children about my life and running STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) workshops. So far, they have been a big hit, and I’m really glad to be helping the next generation. But I’m still on a journey, connecting all the dots.
I still struggle with my issues, but the difference is that after everything I’ve been through, I’m stronger, and I know how to cope. I still have bad moments, but I tell myself I have a lot to give. I wish I had known these things as a teenager.
Today, I have accepted that my brain is my biggest gift. It’s the reason I dream in my own zone when it’s painful, and why I continue to move forward in life. Without my brain I wouldn’t be who I am.
To anyone who struggles with mental illness, or other issues in life, my advice is try to find a positive from it. Learn not to give up, and find a goal to battle towards. If you have a vision it can help you drive through your problems. Find a coping mechanism as a distraction during troubling times; hobbies can be very useful. If you have friends you can trust, talk to them. There will be people who doubt what you can achieve, but you will only know by trying. Failure is certainly not the end.
My path to recovery was a long one, so be patient, because life is always changing. You can’t control the future, but you can keep going. Just as I did, you might find that your biggest weakness might actually contribute towards something positive and life-changing.
Check out Vidura’s website, vidura.co.uk, to hear more from him on dancing, speaking, and STEAM workshops.
Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr, says:
Vidura certainly had a lot to deal with during his younger years, especially with the upheaval he experienced when his family moved to the UK. It can be challenging dealing with change, especially if it isn’t through choice. Once he was free to make his own decisions, despite the struggles, he was naturally drawn to something that was going to be a positive change and help him through.
Vidura is right in saying that we can’t control the future, but we do have the opportunity to make choices today that will create a future that we want. Wherever we are, there is always a way forward.