Running in the snow and being my own inspiration
Digital team's blog
You train for months to run a half marathon but when you turn up it's been cancelled. What would you do? For one of our supporters the answer was simple - run through the bitter February snow to reach that finish line! Here, Sarah tells us why she decided to be her own inspiration and run solo for Rethink Mental Illness.
When Rethink approached me, asking me to write a blog entry about my recent fundraising challenge I’d set myself, I genuinely was amazed: I thought “Who on earth would be interested in reading about boring old me? How on earth do I make my journey exciting enough for publishing? How on earth do I write my story without opening myself up to being judged?”
And I think that’s just it: That fear of being judged was the main reason I set myself this fundraising challenge. I felt if I could run a half marathon and could try to raise some money for Rethink, then I was doing my bit to help eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness. I was doing my bit to encourage people to speak out and get help when they are struggling with their own mental health. I was running to encourage people to be honest and not fear a reaction from others.
I grew up in a society where it was not ok, to admit that you were not ok. I grew up in a strong and proud family who did not want to admit it when something was wrong, and I grew into a career where I felt that being not ok, was a sign of weakness.
I admired my grandmother and aspired to be like my strong, proud mother. Little did I know that mental illness was something that would affect us all in different ways. I have slowly watched my dear grandma crumble as dementia has taken over her. In denial and ashamed for many years, I’ve struggled to accept help and get support with an eating disorder that regrettably has taken over a lot of my life. Being addicted to controlling and restricting something you need to live, has at times, made me feel my life isn’t a life worth living. Trying to hide living with an eating disorder made every day work a struggle. I have lost friends out of sheer confusion at the lies I have told to avoid social occasions involving food and I have found having a mind consumed by this eating disorder has pushed so many people away. How could I expect people around me to understand, if it is something I do not understand myself? Both my suffering grandmother and I have been oblivious to the impact this has had on my mother’s own mental health.
As a Head of Year in a secondary school, I see so many children and young people suffer in silence. I witness the negative impact mental illness can have on those who are not accessing treatment. I see so many young people struggle with their own mental health alone; scared to talk because of what they will be branded - by strangers, friends and worse, their family.
I’d love to write this blog and title it “What to do, to recover”, but unfortunately, I don’t have the answers!! What I can offer is the advice: Talk!! Talk to people, talk to loved ones, talk to professionals. Alone and in silence, things will only get worse.
Recovery isn't a straight journey and recovery doesn't happen overnight, it is a long process and I while you may never fully be 'recovered', you can learn to manage your condition. This is why struggling alone is not the answer.
That’s kind of why I set myself the challenge of running Bath Half Marathon. I wanted to give back to a charity who are holding out olive branches to people struggling. I’m not a runner. In fact I was the girl at 15 in school who got in trouble for truanting cross country (and as a teacher, this is not good!!). So as you can imagine, on Friday 2nd March, two days before run day, when I heard the half marathon was cancelled, I was ecstatic!!
The entire of Friday night was spent reading over my fundraising page, looking at the comments from all the amazing sponsors and I woke up Saturday morning thinking “I’ve got to blooming run it!”. So I did!!!
Three layers, scarf, Rethink top and headphones... Snow, sludge and ice... 13.1 miles... leg ache and frozen fingers... but I did it!! I ran a half marathon. I evidenced my run/slide through selfies with a mileage tracker and I finished with a dive into the snow!
I did it because I wanted to say thank you to the people who helped me raise over £800 for Rethink: I did it because I wanted to be my own inspiration: I did it because I needed to encourage people to make mental illness something they can talk honestly about.
Be your own inspiration! Run, walk, bike or bake and help us make a difference for everyone affected by mental illness. Find out more by visiting our fundraising pages or email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org