I’m running the Cardiff Half for Mind after it saved my life
Content warning: suicidal feelings
Tara blogs about how she nearly ended her life. But with help from Mind, she is learning to cope and is now running the Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon to raise money.
In early 2020, I was at my lowest and I came close to taking my own life. I would come home every night; sitting in silence in the dark, crying and just feeling exhausted from being me.
I was a burden to everyone around me – or so I thought. I remember walking home in torrential rain and not knowing where I was or how to get home. I walked for hours with tears pouring down my face.
One night, it all got too much. I wasn’t in control; I was drowning in negative thoughts and I couldn’t see any light; or any way forward. I don’t think I stopped crying all that night.
"The struggles continued at university."
I think these feelings of anxiety and depression stemmed from my experiences at school. I was bullied day in, day out. And the way I dressed made me stand out. I certainly didn’t blend in.
The struggles continued at university. I hated doing any sort of presentation. And although I made some close friends, I never wanted to go out. It was during my Masters studying animation that I first sought help by going to my GP.
And then a couple of years after graduating, I decided to approach Mind for some help. I had started working but my self-esteem had hit rock bottom and I was dealing (or not dealing) with grief.
My Nan had recently died. She’d had dementia and I think when you lose someone to dementia, you feel as if you lose them twice. I went to Mind Cardiff’s group sessions for people struggling with grief and I remember being in tears and feeling embarrassed. But looking around me, so was everyone else. That was quite a turning point for me.
We’re always being told that women are emotional and I think in the past I would apologise for crying. But it is just an emotion – you wouldn’t apologise for laughing!
"I saw no way out of my situation."
Fast forward to 2020, when I really was at my lowest, I started one to one counselling. I had been off work for a couple of months – I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything.
I saw no point in carrying on. And I saw no way out of my situation. But my counsellor listened. He never judged me. To have someone support you like that is such a blessing. He was actually life-changing and I spoke to him a year later to tell him that he honestly, without question, saved my life. I will be forever grateful to Mind.
One of the things I still struggle with is checking, double checking and triple checking things like locks and switches. For me, switches are a big issue. Have I turned off my computer because it might go on fire in the night? Did I turn off the cooker?
"The support I’ve had over the years has kicked in and has really helped."
I’m still having cognitive behavioural therapy to deal with that but one thing I do is play video games. I design video games for a living and I’ve always loved playing them. It is a great way to stimulate your mind. I forget about the things that are making me anxious and I escape into being a different character who I need to keep alive for the duration of the game! They have a bit of a bad reputation but they can be really positive.
My Gran passed away not long ago and I’ve coped with the grief much better. The support I’ve had over the years has kicked in and has really helped.
And I’m now gearing up to run the Cardiff Half Marathon. I’m really rubbish at running but I’ll walk it if I have to. I guess I’m doing it for myself but I’m also doing it as a thank you to Mind. I’m hoping I can raise money because Mind does so much for so many.
Because of people like Tara, the Cardiff Half is on track to generate its £20 millionth pound in fundraising at the 19th edition of the event this year. Race organisers are urging the public to get behind the event to help it reach this incredible milestone. Over £3 million is raised each year via partnerships with over 90 charities.
The race sold out earlier this summer, just three and half months after entries went on sale.
A record number of runners from outside Wales - both across the UK and overseas - are registered to take part this year. To celebrate, organisers will be using the event as a platform to celebrate Wales; showcasing everything that is so special and distinct about Cymru and to offer visitors a warm Welsh Welcome.
You can donate to Tara’s Justgiving page here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/theonewheretaradoesanotherhalf-marathon
If you already have a space in the 2022 Cardiff Half and would like to fundraise for Mind, visit https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/donate-or-fundraise/take-on-an-active-challenge/run-for-mind/cardiff-half-marathon-october-2022/
If you’d like to run the Cardiff Half for Mind in 2023, you can sign up here https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/donate-or-fundraise/take-on-an-active-challenge/run-for-mind/cardiff-half-marathon-2023/
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Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.