I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 1989 after leaving the military. Unlike many others I did not experience combat but suffered in a different way.
For 28 years I lived with this without any intervention of help for the condition. It affected my entire adult life and was the primary cause of the breakdown of all of my relationships. I’ve suffered from depression, anger, mistrust, suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Most of all I had an immense feeling of being completely worthless. A feeling that I was not worth the love of anyone. A feeling that nobody would ever want to be with me. I would look at myself in the mirror and feel nothing but disgust.
I would go to sleep every night praying that I did not wake up and feel devastated the next morning when I did.
My feelings were alien to everyone around me. I was successful in my career. I had two amazing sons who are also my best friends. I would be told to shake up. Forget about it. Move on. Everything that most people say. But it was not easy. I could not move past my feelings and did not understand why.
I had involvement from hospitals, GP’s, social services, everyone that is there to help, yet none could pick up my issues. None could offer treatment or a solution to my problems.
That was, until 18 months ago, August 2015, when my life was to completely change.
After another relationship breakdown just two weeks before our wedding was due to take place, I received a leaflet from an unlikely source, Northumbria Police, and after calling the number on the leaflet, I finally received the specialist help I needed and was introduced to various exercises and activities to aid my recovery, including mindfulness, meditation and running.
After the completion of my therapy I felt incredible. I had the tools and techniques available to help me cope with the trauma and deal with day to day life. I was so inspired by both charities that I wanted to give something back and help them help others like me, so took up running.
Me, a runner? I hate running, but I couldn’t let people down who had helped me so much, so I trained for my first marathon. I never thought that running would have such a huge impact in my recovery.
There were times that I would have a really hard day and the last thing I wanted was to go and run, but I dragged myself out, put on my music and ran.
Each time I would get back home and I would feel completely different. I was energised. I was high with endorphins.
Living the life I was supposed to live
It began to dawn on me that the running, the music, the mindfulness techniques all used together were helping me immensely. They were helping me get rid of those feelings. They were helping me live the life I was supposed to live.
Since that first marathon I run every day. Whether this is a short run or a longer one it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how low I’m feeling, I know that when I put on my trainers and get out there to run the troubles I have had that day will be put into perspective. They’re not troubles anymore just a minor irritant.
In the last 18 months I have felt incredible. I no longer go to sleep at night praying I don’t wake up. I look forward to living my next day.
My next goal – the Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run
This year I’m taking on the Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run on 2nd July and Simplyhealth Great North Run in September.
I am particularly excited to experience the Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run for the first time. To enter the London Stadium and run on the track where our Olympic and Paralympic heroes have ran will be incredible. I can be Mo Farah for the day, what an awesome experience in our capital city.
The amazing work that has been done recently to bring a focus on mental health to the forefront is incredible. Programmes like 'Mind Over Marathon' inspire me to keep going, to keep running and keep my mental state in the happiest place it has ever been.
There are times when it hurts, when you just want to stop but in the words of Mr Gump “I just kept running”
I no longer have mistrust. I no longer feel worthless. The respect, the praise, the compliments I receive are very flattering. However, no matter what my personal accomplishments, no matter how great I feel, one thing pushes me every day and that is to let others know that there is hope.
Life is not dark. You can get through each day in a positive way.
So grab your trainers, and get out there and run. You will not believe the benefits it brings.
Run as a group, run alone, it doesn’t matter. Just run.
To sign up for the Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run 10km and 2km Family Run
organised in partnership with Newham Council click here.