Malcolm blogs about his journey into running and how Herefordshire Mind have helped him with his mental health.
Hi, my name is Malcolm, I am in my early 40s, and, on 11th May this year I completed my first half marathon. It was really tough but I did it and, although I don’t get too excited about things like this, I did feel a massive sense of achievement. I now intend to have a go at a marathon!
Up until about two years ago, I hadn’t run since my school days, and have often struggled with weight and fitness issues.
In addition, I have had a serious mental health condition for over 20 years that began in my teens, leading to my first (of four) stays in a psychiatric unit at the age of 21, triggered by bullying at work. Over the years I have had a number of diagnoses including depression and bipolar disorder, but find my current diagnosis of schizoaffective disorderthe most useful and appropriate.
Getting the right medication and managing my condition has been a long journey and there are other challenges too - I find it hard to get up in the morning, find social contact difficult as I am naturally fairly quiet and shy. I have a constant fear of becoming unwell again and too much pressure can bring on paranoia. In the past I have, as a result of medication, gained a great deal of weight and had to manage other side effects.
After my last stay in hospital, I went to Herefordshire Mind and made use of a range of support they offered, including a men’s peer support group, art, creative writing, badminton, singing and the running club.
Going to the running club has been great – it is open to the general public and has helped me mix with people of all sorts of backgrounds and ages, both male and female, giving me greater confidence and ease in conversation. I soon realised that this was an activity that I enjoyed, even though I had not run for over 20 years!
It has helped me improve my overall fitness and running technique and I have lost weight and become stronger – which in turn has improved my mental health and given me greater confidence, stability and self-esteem. Physically and emotionally I feel more resilient.
Having goals to work towards has been so helpful for me, so my next is the full marathon at the Herefordshire Running Festival on 21st September this year. I know it will be a real challenge, but with support from the running club I know it will be successful. If you'd like to join me, it's easy to sign up and there are currently 20 free places available - just email Becky at Herefordshire Mind.
Read about anxiety and panic attacks
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.