Mental Health Week 2021 - Martyn's Story
Mental Health & Running Since lockdowns and restrictions began back in 2020 many of us have been thrown into a situation, or situations, over which we have little to no control at the same time as restricting access to the support and releases we may have turned to for help. No face-to-face meetings, no hugs, no visiting other households and no group activities were just some of the options taken away from us to help tackle the global pandemic. We know may people run to help address mental health issues be they longer term depressive issues or anxieties, situational struggles, stresses from work, family pressures or challenging new situations. Running seems to have an amazing ability to help decompress, help get a chaotic mind in to order, to get out of the same four walls and experience being out in nature's beauty. It also helps to get us out of the house when we may otherwise not do because we feel rubbish and get amongst people rather than remaining within ourselves - generally to a hugely positive effect. Two of our runners have been awesome enough to share their stories and experiences of how mental health has affected them, what's helped them through and what they'd suggest to others in similar situations. I cannot thank them enough for sharing these stories - it's not something that many people would be able to do and it takes a lot of courage and honesty. Please do have a read of the below, I hope it helps you, inspires you, reassures you perhaps that this stuff is normal and that reaching out is such a positive thing to do even if it feels tough. Let's start with Martyn's story... "I have decided to put together this story of my experiences for you, it's all true and it's not particularly easy to say out loud but I feel it is important for people to see first hand experience as for me at least the common phrases and motivational quotes in the darkest times are not enough and do not always make me feel people I know 'get it'. For many years I had struggled with severe depression and anxiety often experiencing suicidal thoughts and enacting scenes within my head. After a very long time I built up the courage to seek help only for my GP to offer anti depressants; they work really well but they also remove positive thoughts too, and who wants to be a zombie? So they were off the table. For a while I managed my mind through bottling up my feelings but as anyone in the position will tell you whilst we are experts at "manning up" (worst expression ever!) & putting on a facade eventually you will break for me that happened following the arrival of my first child. A happy time what could be better I've wanted this my entire adult life and they're beautiful and part of you so why do you resent them so much and why does everything they do make you angry? Who knew Post-Natal depression is not something that only affects mothers?! Something had to be done and that is where exercise and the great outdoors comes in, whilst always keen on the outdoors the exercise was less of a welcome friend. Initially starting with the gym a love was born the ability to push your body to a place your mind cannot follow allowing you to release the tension within and see the light at the end of the tunnel. But still I needed more; more freedom more exposure, and so we run and a lifestyle is born. Plenty of scientific research supports the theory that exercise leads to positivity and helps clear the mind until I tried I admit I was sceptical now I enjoy the freedom and feelings that running provides me. Additionally since joining BADRAT I have been able to meet like minded people and be welcomed into the fold, whilst still anxious in social situations joining the club was a seamless process and all made me feel welcome and 'at home'. For me now with thanks to running and good people I deem friends I manage daily life and whilst I know my demons are ever present I know how to keep them at bay. Every day is still a challenge and that for anyone who experiences mental health issues will know never goes away you cannot "man up" and you cannot just "cheer up" those terms do not help anyone. The fact of being male also does not mean I do not feel down or have other feelings and emotions. Nor does it mean that I am not struggling with an eating disorder another thing which is a deemed non manly. A human is a human and we are all the same, we need to find our ways to cope and manage what we have. I thank you for taking the time to read my story, I hope if you too are struggling you find your way forward and remember it's okay to ask for help but also it's okay to do it your own way, asking for help is scary a big step and not the right way for everyone; that said if you don't ask for help please tell someone how you feel don't ask them to fix it just tell them trust me it helps to unload even if they don't understand or cannot help." Thanks Martyn.