Why Gaurav is running in memory of his friend Philippa, and how running is a great way to remember her
I find myself adding the finishes touches to this post on a sunny beach in Sydney, Australia. Since I started running back in 2014, my daily routine has consisted mainly of munching on lettuce leaves - a bit like a cow (or is that grass?) - and of course going on the occasional run.
3 years later, I find myself writing an entry for the Mind website. I guess all the running hasn't just been so that I can wear ultra-tight leather Kanye-style black jeans.
"Those that had met her were left with a lasting impression; few would have guessed she was battling with depression."
It is those very caged up thoughts that led Philippa to take her own life.
This was a huge wake-up call, I couldn't believe someone who was so close could do such a thing, she was depressed and yet I had no idea what that meant. I knew I wasn't alone, and that many others didn't have the knowledge or answers when it came to depression – the question that goes over and over in most of our heads is why did she do it? So with little knowledge, and a whole lot of awareness that I felt needed to be raised…
A group of friends & I decided to take on the Coventry Half Marathon in March 2014, weighing in at just over 18 stone (yes I know, heavy!), it was set to be quite a challenge. But motivated by Philippa and everything that had happened, I decided it was time to find a pair of running shoes. If I can remember correctly, my first run lasted all of 2-minutes, this was going to be a serious challenge.
Determined and with some serious support from my friends and family, my best friend Callum Winter & I finished the half marathon side-by-side in just over 2 hours, it was from this point that I realised running and fundraising go hand-in-hand. But I was not done yet, months later I enter myself into the London Marathon, and after entering into a charity place with Mind, those Sunday runs had gone from 5-10 miles to 15-20 miles.
I completed London (just about), and with two marathons, 4 half marathons and a 10k under my belt, I managed to raise just over £5,000 for Mind. It's safe to say that the passing of Philippa helped me take control of my life in a big way.
We all experience caged up thoughts and feelings, it’s how we deal with them that’s most important. A lot of us sit around in the attempt that things will ‘get better on their own’. But I do strongly believe it’s with the help and support of others; in particular friends or family, maybe even a professional, that we truly overcome hard times in life.
"Running is one way that I do that; Running is freedom, it’s fitness and it gets the heart pumping."
In my opinion running is the easy bit, the task of raising money especially for a ‘charity place’, not so much. The bulk of my fundraising wouldn’t have been possible without the help of a little tool called Social Media. I do want to avoid making this post one of those, make a million pounds by using Youtube style videos. But more so, elaborate on what powerful platforms Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are.
Posts on Facebook can reach up to thousands of people at any one time, but it’s all about the content you post. If you’re posting something that no one cares about, then it won’t reach as many people. However, if you put a bit of thought and creativity into a post it will get the exposure it deserves.
This is not to say that ‘offline’ marketing is useless, our team did participate in the Kenilworth Christmas Lights Switch on, with a very well received ‘Samosa Sale’, in which we raised just over £400 (shout to my mother Chander Ahluwalia for her fab cooking skills), which is still a great way of raising money. But social media allows you to fundraise loads of money right from your home.
To find a positive from any situation, I will continue to be that chubby guy who smashes marathon, with 2017 being no exception.
You must do something that is equally as great and powerful as that negative, helping raise money in an attempt to help those who all suffer from depression seems to be the right way to do that. Working closely with Mental Health charity Mind, Philippa’s memory space page has raised in excess of £74,000, all as a result of amazing fundraising efforts by those who knew her.
If you want to help Mind continue their fantastic work supporting people with mental illnesses. Why not get involved and help raise much needed funds for this amazing charity, so that we can do whatever we can to help save the lives of others who are suffering as Philippa did.
Any donations at all would be hugely appreciated by us all in memory of a wonderful friend who was loved by so many.
To find out more on running, visit our running for Mind page
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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.