Running has been a massive part of my life the last couple of years, originally my ex-husband got me into it for fitness, but the last few months it has meant to much more.
It’s a sense of freedom to your mind, away from technology and distractions in life, it’s chasing down the tiny victories when you get a personal best time and it’s the perfect headspace for my mental health.
It started slowly, 3km’s around the block on summer evenings, pushing through the aching thighs and ‘concrete’ legs, I took part in a couple of 5km runs, collecting medals was the ultimate buzz. The feeling after you have completed a run is like no other, there say there is ‘no such thing as a happy runner’ which I can relate to but when you have smashed out a run and those endorphins kick in it’s completely worth every sweat and tear.
Late 2017 I took part in a 5km run in Brighton, a very steep hill and a determined mind cost me a knee injury which would soon become the final push into depression.
I couldn’t seem to shake off the knee injury, I saw a couple of physiotherapists over the space of 3-6 months but nothing seemed to be working, I kept trying and trying to run but couldn’t push past 1km without being stopped dead in my tracks with agonising pain.
It felt like failure, I have never achieved that much academically so running was ‘my thing’ that made my family proud, gave me a sense of achievement and gave me something to focus on. A few months prior I had struggle with PTSD after quite a bad car accident, running kept my mind busy and distracted from flashbacks and anxious/low moods.
Last summer became the ultimate mental health struggle, with no running to distract me and keep me motivated I sank lower and lower. I hardly left the house, leaving the bed or sofa was an effort, I felt physically and mentally exhausted all the time, family and friends were starting to notice I was losing my spark.
There were dark times where I was filled with emptiness and hatred for myself, I generally thought I was a burden to everyone around and I would be better off not here. No words possible can describe that ‘feeling’, the black dog (depression) takes over you completely and steals any glimmer of hope.
I began using the Samaritans email service, I am not so good with speaking my feelings but once I started typing, the words poured out of me, my hands couldn’t keep up with the words flowing out of me. Knowing that the service was 100% confidential, private and that emails were not stored anywhere made it so much easier to speak openly about how I was really feeling deep down. Having someone give me support, even though I couldn’t physically see them or hear them was what I needed for a period of time, having someone listen to you without judgement or making you feel ‘weak’ or ‘stupid’ can be lifesaving.
The minute you hear the word Samaritans you immediately think ‘suicidal’, until I needed support I would have thought that too but you don’t have to be suicidal to speak to the Samaritans, they are there to offer a listening ear 24/7.
I found a great chiropractor and sports therapist who have got me back up and running, slowly but surely I have got back into my running. In the last couple of months I have done various 10km races around Sussex and London, my mental health is on the mend and so is the knee!
I chose to challenge myself to do 95 miles over 10 months because life brings along all kinds of challenges, some will knock you down, some will push you to your limits and some will bring out the best in you, whatever challenge you are facing the Samaritans will always be there to listen.
I will be eternally grateful for their support and helping me realise life is worth living and I hope I can raise money and awareness by running 95 miles!!
Vitality 10,000 in London - 27th May 2019
Worthing 10km - 2nd June 2019
Moonlight 7 Mile Walk Worthing - 29th June 2019
Asics 10km run London - 21st July 2019
Big Fun Run Brighton – 17th August 2019
Littlehampton 10km - 8th September 2019
Go The Distance Worthing 10km – 22nd September 2019
RunThrough Battersea Park 10km – 5th October 2019
Great South Run 10 miles (16km) - 20th October 2019
K2 10km Crawley - 27th October 2019
Hayling Island 10mile Run – 3rd November 2019
Brighton 10km - 17th November 2019
Mo Running London 10km – 30th November 2019
Running Grandpix Goodwood 10km - 8th December 2019
London Winter 10km - 9th February 2020
Brighton Half Marathon - 23rd February
Finishing Berlin Half Marathon - 5th April 2020!!
Huge thanks to Sophie for sharing her running story and glad to hear her views on using the Samaritans when she needed someone to talk to.