Stories of Impact: Kerry-Louise Lawrence

Stories of Impact: Kerry-Louise Lawrence

“I suffered depression and anxiety. That was mainly down to the mental abuse from my ex.”

Name: Kerry-Louise Lawrence
Sheffield, England, UK

Pole dancing for: Approx. 4 years

Why did you start pole dancing?

“I always loved gymnastics and artistic-type things. I loved circus and contortion, but it wasn’t until I found a class near me that I truly wanted to try [pole dancing]. The reason I went to my first class was because of my ex, for all the wrong reasons.”

What do you mean?

“[My ex] used to psychologically abuse me and body shame me. I’ve always been conscious of my body for the same reasons girls are now—the media—but he played on that. He blamed his cheating on me and my confidence level and body.

I started pole as an exercise to lose weight, tone up and feel better. Little did I know it would actually empower me as a woman.”

How did pole play a role in that?

“The ladies [in class] were so amazing and supportive. I became more and more confident, empowered and stronger, and finally chose to end the relationship and found a new partner who was—and still is—massively supportive of me and my passion for pole.”

Did you experience mental health issues of any kind before pole dancing?

“I suffered depression and anxiety. That was mainly down to the mental abuse from my ex.”

How long had you been experiencing depression and anxiety, and how did it affect you before you started taking pole classes?

“I had experienced it on and off for two-to-three years. I didn’t want to do [pole]. I didn’t think I was good enough. I didn’t want to put myself out there. Anxiety got the better of me.

I didn’t want to go to my first class, so my mum came with me for support. She didn’t do it, but she just watched, like my own little cheerleader, and kept me from going home.

I was so paranoid about what others would think. I went in leggings and a long-sleeve top to cover up and hide what I thought was a shameful body.”

When did you start noticing a change within yourself?

“I only went to one hour-long class per week and noticed a difference about three months in. This is when I noticed male attention from another person. After three sessions, I was able to bring myself to wear shorts. More and more my confidence has grown, with every class, every different studio, and every different scenario and situation I’ve been in, because of pole.”

How would you describe your anxiety and depression levels now?

“Non-existent, and I use my experience in my field of work. I now work in mental health. I even found that pole helped reduce and prevent me from developing post-natal depression, which is what worried me the most while pregnant.”

What do you find to be most empowering about pole? 

“I’ve asked myself the same question and can’t quite put my finger on it. I think it’s the sense of belonging, the amazing and supportive company of (mostly) other ladies who all share a passion, and the way it can make you feel a sense of achievement in even the littlest of things.

It has helped me through difficult times, but I have to admit has also caused difficult times when hitting a lull, etc.”

What are those difficult times like?

“Personal life stress. Recently my dad passed away, so that’s been difficult. Plenty of work stress due to the nature of my job. Family stress, etc. Life is a rollercoaster and loves to throw stuff at you to test you.”

How do you push through difficult times?

“I have my husband and daughter to help me through them and amazing friends and family on my husband’s side. Pole is an amazing outlet—it’s my happy place. I can lose myself, forget my worries and enjoy myself. It helps me de-stress by switching my focus to something I really enjoy. It’s an amazing coping strategy for me.”

Where do you think you would be had it not been for pole?

“Well, I’m unsure. I could still be in the abusive relationship. I wouldn’t be the strong, independent woman I am today. I know I wouldn’t have this life I have now—the supportive husband, beautiful little daughter, house and job.

I can’t imagine my life without pole. I only go a few times a week, but in the future I’d love to have a career within my passion, too. It inspires me daily to be better.”

All photos from @littlekerrypolebear, used with permission by Kerry-Louise Lawrence.