Running to escape the voices - running the marathon to help others escape too.

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.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AshleighPatten