In October, Helen is running the Cardiff Half Marathon in memory of her cousin Terry, on what would have been his birthday. Here she talks about her own mental health journey.
Terry was the sort of guy who had the biggest smile and the biggest laugh. He was a bit older than me and I didn’t see him that often, but when I did it was as if no time had passed at all. He lived in Aberystwyth and was a really popular guy in the town.
I was in playgroup with my youngest son when I got the news. My Mum phoned to tell me that Terry had died.
I could see how his death had impacted on everyone around me and I could see what I could have put my own family through.
I had no idea he had been struggling with mental health issues. Of course, as a family, we were all really shocked and upset. But I also felt really guilty because I had been in the same situation 12 months before. I could see how Terry's death had impacted on everyone around me and I could see what I could have put my own family through.
I have suffered with depression on and off for around 14 years. I went through some pretty traumatic things growing up and I never really dealt with it at the time. I’ll be fine some days and then something little will hit me. It’s always the small, seemingly insignificant things that can trigger it.
When I am at my lowest, I feel like an empty shell. It’s the only way to describe it. I’ve often thought that those closest to me would be better off without me. No one cares, no one understands and no one can save you – or at least that’s what it feels like when I am at my worst. You will do anything for it to end.
Exercise has saved me.
I ended up going to the doctor, which really helped me, but there are still days I don’t want to climb out of bed, days when I feel the whole world is against me.
Everybody has a different way of coping. I keep myself busy, I speak to close friends about it and I surround myself with happy things – things that make me laugh. I also go running.
Exercise has saved me. I used to hate running but I love it now. And sometimes when I feel the dark cloud coming over me, I know I must run.
I was encouraged to go running by a friend of mine, who I met when we started Slimming World at the same time. I really wasn’t convinced that running would be for me. The first run was very stop, start, stop, start. But by our second run, I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to go again and I even registered for a few 5Ks.
Mind is such a worthy charity that is very close to my heart and we need to raise as much awareness about mental health as possible.
I had been toying with the idea of running the Cardiff Half when I discovered that some of my cousins wanted to as well. Some of them have never run anything like this before so I am really proud of them. We are calling ourselves Team Terry. It’s a good way to show each other that we are a strong family and that we are there for each other.
I am going to train as hard as I possibly can. Mind is such a worthy charity that is very close to my heart and we need to raise as much awareness about mental health as possible. I know that Terry would be proud.
Terry was really into marathons, triathlons and Ironmans. He had run the Cardiff Half several times and the fact that this year’s event falls on his birthday, 7 October, makes it even more fitting.
See our information for more about getting active and how it can help with your mental health.
If you feel inspired to take on an active challenge you can find out more on our fundraising pages.