"I was the guy you could always call on to go out." How Chevy Rough escaped a life of addiction in the City
After a decade of working in the City, Chevy Rough had become a person he really didn’t want to be. He tells Mark Hedley how he swapped stress and addiction for a more mobile, mindful way of life
"Here’s a pint of Stella: learn to love it.”
It was Chevy Rough’s first day in the City. At 17 years old, he hadn’t drunk alcohol before or taken any drugs, but on ordering an orange juice at the bar, an older colleague set him down a different path.
Fast forward ten years, and Rough had become an alcoholic and cocaine addict.
His career begun in the back office – in the engine room – stuffing envelopes. He worked at a couple of brokers before finding himself on the trading floor at an investment bank. “I had no idea what I was doing. I’m fairly sure I caused the credit crunch in some way,” he jokes when we meet at square mile’s studio.
Chevy is not shy in front of the camera; he’s shot more than 180 hours of footage for BBC docuseries Mind over Marathon, where he helps take a group of ten unlikely runners affected by different mental health issues, training them for the London Marathon.
Chevy is now a performance and mindfulness coach – the embodiment of physical and mental balance. It’s a far cry from his days working in the City.
We are movement-based creatures – we’re not designed to be trapped in these cages
“Growing up, I was an easy target; I mean, I’m called Chevy Ray Rough after all. When I started in the City, I was a lost man. I had no idea how to fit into the pack.”
Chevy decided to cast himself as the joker. “I found the confidence to play that part through alcohol, which then led to drugs. I was the guy you could always call on to go out – and would be the last man standing.”
He played this role for the next ten years. He even got a tattoo across his chest that reads ‘I am not who I am’. “It reminds me that I always try to play a character.”
At the age of 27, he realised he needed to make a change – that his relationship with alcohol and drugs was not healthy. But it took another three years before the tipping point.
“I was at my ex-girlfriend’s house. It was Christmas Day at 5am. I had been up for three days straight. I was wrapping presents, doing drugs, and drinking. And I had to spend the day with the in-laws. I looked in the mirror: darkness and illness were staring straight back at me. I needed to change.”
Ease into the day; don’t look at your phone or emails until you’re at your desk
And change he did. Walking was his salvation – starting with weekend escapes to the countryside. “Walking gave me time to think and reflect. It got me out of the pub – and eventually, out of the City.”
“I always wanted out; I always felt trapped. We are movement-based creatures – we’re not designed to be trapped in these cages. But I appreciate some of us have to – and hopefully that’s where I can help.”
Working alongside men’s mental health charity CALM, Chevy has made it his mission to help people with mental health issues using ‘mindful movement’. Movement doesn’t need to be about beating a personal best or lifting more than last time – movement can be a solution in itself, one with no pressure.
You may not want to escape the City like Chevy did, but you can definitely start by moving in the right direction.
For more info on Campaign Against Living Miserably, (CALM) see thecalmzone.net