Why I walked 50 miles in five days for Rethink Mental Illness

22/06/2022

As it is our 50th anniversary year, we have been asking people to take on activities based around the number 50. With this in mind, Chloe took on the challenge of walking 50 miles in just five days – and she raised crucial funds for us whilst she did it! Here’s her story of living with mental illness and why she chose to raise money to help us in our mission of providing the best possible life for people experiencing mental illness.

Rethink Mental Illness has changed my life for the better in so many ways, and I will always be grateful for their services. I have struggled with mental illness from my early teens, and by age 22 I had dropped out of my 2nd year of university, given up my driver’s licence and part-time job, and spent many months in psychiatric hospitals and a specialist eating disorder unit.

I struggled to leave the house at all, shutting myself in my bedroom with the curtains drawn because of paranoia and hearing voices. I was overwhelmed with PTSD symptoms, and was very anxious and depressed.

  • I struggled to leave the house at all, shutting myself in my bedroom with the curtains drawn because of paranoia and hearing voices.

I was given a two-week crisis placement at a Rethink Mental Illness care home, and it was really helpful. A couple of months later, a room became free there, and I was given a long-term placement. The staff have supported me through periods of crisis, providing 24/7 help when I needed it most. They supported me to attend appointments, gave me a safe space to talk regularly, helped me get back into some of my old interests like cooking and gardening, and supported me to gradually get out more. My keyworker and I set goals together, and then talked through how they could be achieved.

Alongside medication, support and weekly psychology therapy from the Early Intervention Team and then the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) for psychosis, trauma and emotion dysregulation, I have become more and more independent. Staff supported me to gradually move from being catered for, to cooking all my own meals and buying all my groceries. I went from quietly learning to crochet at the dining room table, to becoming much more outgoing and making new friends in the house.

  • They supported me to attend appointments, gave me a safe space to talk regularly, helped me get back into some of my old interests like cooking and gardening, and supported me to gradually get out more.

I became confident enough to go out alone, and have since joined a local church, begun volunteering at a toddler group, joined a local gym and pool, and often take the train to see friends and family. I am looking forward to beginning voluntary work as an activities co-ordinator with people with learning disabilities, and hopefully getting my own flat too later this year!

I still struggle with my mental health on a daily basis, but I feel so much better equipped to deal with it. If you’re reading this, and don’t have much hope for recovery, know that there is hope for living a fulfilling life, even with severe mental illness.

Feeling inspired after reading Chloe's story? Sign up for the Miles for Mental Health challenge today.

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