Running has been an important part of my life for the last several years; it has given me a way of freeing head space and allowed me to achieve things that I thought not possible. More importantly, running has given me a valuable coping mechanism against depression.
I am married (to my best friend and hero) with two young boys (aged 8 and 5) but fight a constant battle with depression. I have suffered from depression for much of my life, derived from childhood experiences, but only within the last 10 years have I been aware of suffering from this illness. In fact, it is only within the last few years that I have had any sort of treatment for it.
I originally used running to help boost my self-confidence by losing some weight and getting in better shape for a healthier lifestyle. As my fitness improved, so did my confidence, the running helped me to feel better about myself and gave me a more positive outlook on life.
My increased confidence allowed me to dream about achieving things I never thought I could, so I decided to challenge myself by entering for a marathon.
In 2015 I ran my first marathon (Brighton) in 3:44 mins, my whole family and friends were there to cheer me on. The blood sweat and tears endured, both in training and during the day made it a memorable day, the supporters around Brighton were fantastic!
September, last year I was involved in a motorcycle accident, but although I escaped life-threatening injuries I was quite lucky to be alive. Nonetheless, the injuries I had meant that I could not do any exercise for several months. This sent me into a mental decline as my main coping mechanism against my mental illness was taken away from me. This had a knock-on effect in all aspects of my life. Luckily, I do have a remarkable wife and a caring family, who helped support me through this difficult period and I am currently in a rehabilitation phase, but back running thankfully.
Like many other people, I have been inspired by recent documentaries like Mind Over Marathon, it truly is a fantastic campaign that Heads Together and the associated coalition partners are doing. This documentary gave me the belief and inspiration to set new goals, to encourage talking about Mental Health and to use running as a mechanism through the positivity it generates.
I feel it’s important to use this opportunity to inspire others. Running for the mind is rewarding but talking about depression is enlightening.
My renewed self-confidence and awareness has helped me to talk openly and freely about my mental illness and that is thanks to the Heads Together campaign. Just a few years ago, I had difficulty accepting that I have a mental illness, but now I embrace it.
Going forward, helping to push this campaign into the wider community and promoting the positive impact that running can have on oneself is an exciting opportunity. Anyone of any ability can benefit from running. The commitment costs you some of your spare time but the rewards are endless and the feeling is priceless.
We all need to feel that the there is no stigma attached to mental health and there is a support network out there to walk out of the darkness and live a full life. Just reach out and believe in yourself, you CAN do it!
In 2018, I will be celebrating my 50th Birthday and I will run to promote the campaign for Mental Health Awareness, in both the Brighton Half and full marathon. If just one more person gets inspired as a result of what I do, then that’s worth it.
Take control and get inspired!