It's 8am I'm leaving the house, cold, tired, hungry. I start walking and my mind frantically searches for an excuse for why I'm late... Before I know it I'm running, first between lamp posts like it's a game and then I keep going on and on.
That's pretty much how I started, an early realisation from around age 8 that if I ran to school I could stay in bed for 15 minutes longer. But this soon grew into an obsession, every time I had to go anywhere, why not run? It's faster and I can spend more time being lazy...
Fast forward 20 years and my lazy running style had become absolutely essential to my wellbeing, I had gone from the annoying kid who could run a respectable marathon time without doing any training to conquering the 2660 mile Pacific Crest Trail and preparing for my first 24 hour Ultra marathon. But I came very close to giving up, I am one of the lucky ones.
My life was essentially pretty standard, I left the military with a good career which allowed me a comfortable lifestyle, I was happily married and had a great support network of friends and family. I laughed my way through life never really taking anything seriously and just trying to have fun. But something was missing and my sense of humour was hiding some trauma I had hidden away, I ran to keep my stress at bay as my stress increased my miles increased. I never talked about my problems as I felt like a burden and I didn't want to project on other people. Instead I bottled it up and carried on. After two trips to hospital for a broken collarbone and mild skin cancer surgery, my life didn't seem so funny anymore, but I continued. My relationship started to fail, but I continued. I lost family members, but I continued. Eventually a family death and subsequent fallout triggered my hidden Cptsd and I become heavily depressed and suicidal, BUT I continued.
I strived to find a way to end my life without affecting others, I pushed people away and resented those who tried to keep me strong, I only wanted to help people and had no consideration for my own wellbeing. I was lost and I wanted nothing to do with this world. Eventually I hit a realisation that suicide can never be painless, my pain will only be reflected onto others. "If you don't heal yourself, you will continue to bleed on people", in my efforts to try and avoid hurting people I was causing more pain. I hurt people I cared about deeply and it took a good Doctor and a trip to a&e before I finally accepted help.
I was saved by the NHS and many charitable organisations, mind, Samaritans, campaign against living miserably, theblurtfoundation. My recovery plan involved me realising that I needed to take responsibility for my own mental health, I won't get better if I don't want to.
How would I do this? Running would be a big part of it. I accepted the fact that I would need the NHS and I started running again, at first just at night 3am, 4am, to get my confidence up. Then I began to run in the day around other people, I noticed things more. The tree's, the birds, the insects and the people.
I rebuilt myself and I continue to do so, I work in conservation and nature wellbeing, I use my experience to help others. My positivity has returned with a vengeance and my running is reaching new heights. Next month I will compete in my first 24 hour race for CALM here, I'm taking part in #milesformind to encourage others and motivate myself to keep going, no matter how hard life seems. I've been to the bottom, it sucks, I don't want to be late for school again! I am never going back there and I will finally do what I should of done all those years ago.... When it comes to my wellbeing - Put my running first!
Thanks to Simon for sharing his story with us. #MentalHealthMatters