I'm running to escape the torment of psychosis - truly a journey from hell into hope.
It's so difficult to know where to start; I want to tell you about the absolute joy the first time I ran. I felt like I was alive again and free.
I picked up a pamphlet published by The Mental Health Foundation as I waited for yet another painful visit with the Community Mental Health Team. It said exercise has been proven to be beneficial to mental wellbeing and contributes to effective management of mental illness.
Out of sheer desperation I shuffled out for a run, and I've never been more grateful for anything in my life. I discovered the voices cannot keep up, I don't know why but I know they can't run. It's the most liberating, amazing discovery - it doesn't matter how tormented I am, or how powerful they seem I can live again so long as I just keep running.
Having found this out, I had to do something more, to be something more. I am running Edinburgh Marathon in aid of the Mental Health Foundation. I feel so privileged to be doing something so positive and to be sharing the gift of hope that I've been given.
Training for the marathon is harder than I could have ever imagined. The anti-psychotics work by slowing everything down - it's like being underwater. A recent increase in the dosage had left me running thickly through the fog in an attempt to preserve my physical fitness while my mental health was deteriorating. Add in two knee injuries and the emergence of exercise induced asthma and my challenge is massive.
Despite the downs the rewards are also so much greater than I imagined. While I've been ill I have felt so isolated and so alone and as each person has donated I see how wrong I was. What's more I truly feel the presence of all those the Mental Health Foundation will go on to help as I run. I feel that I am in control of something which seemed so much bigger than me.
I've answered you individually but I just wanted to say a massive thank you to those that've sponsored me after reading this article.
I hadn't expected it at all, it's lovely to have felt the support of the running community too. (I suddenly feel like a 'real runner' instead of desperately trying to be one!)
Thank you so much
I've copied most of this to my sponsorship page - the acceptance and support I've received from strangers on this site has convinced me to be more open and honest with people that know me in the real world.
Thanks for opening my eyes to the depth of support and understanding that's out there - perhaps it was my own fear of the stigma that was creating the divide all along. Remarkably people do care, and they are impressed by what I've achieved not disgusted by how I suffer.
A very heartfelt thank you to all that've sponsored me, sent me a private message or discussed the article with me on the forums
UPDATE: I did it.
I am so thrilled
Thank you all so much for your support
Amazing work, and your honesty is applaudable.
My dad suffers with severe depression and getting him to notice an uplift in mood when he cycles is hard but with the help of posts like this, I'm getting him to realise that something so simple can really help!
Jess @ www.jogoff.me
Thank you Jess, I think because depression feels so deep and dark and it's such a complex condition it feels like the solution has to be complicated and massively medical. I still have to remind myself that exercise, eating and sleeping well helps - I do it every time I'm coming out from beneath a black cloud. It's all so hopeless and deeply rooted in your soul, a ridiculous little jog/cycle/swim doesn't feel like it can help. Especially as it can take some effort to get there. That said there are times when no matter how much I know exercise can help I am not capable of doing it. It is impossible to over estimate how difficult trying to exercise can be at the bottom of a low, it's never as simple as go for a run and you'll be fine but even if that run only makes someone feel 1% better than they do at the depths of their torment then it's worth it! Very much so
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