Why I'm doing RED January in 2020
RED January is back for 2020! We've partnered up with RED January, a community initiative that encourages you to support your mental health by doing something active every day in January. RED January has raised £1.7 million for Mind since it began in 2014. Read Mandy's blog about how RED January helped her on her mental health journey.
Sat at home on a cold January morning in 2015 and looking at my social feed, up popped another image of my lovely friend Oli showing one of his daily exercise achievements as part of RED January. Each image made me smile and I was intrigued. As each day passed I was hooked on his updates and utterly inspired by his mission to exercise daily in order to raise money for Mind UK. It wasn’t until December of that year that I decided to take part in the challenge.
I had always been an active person and had run regularly and I was aware of how much regular exercise had improved my mental and physical health. However, something about this challenge struck a chord with me. The very essence of a community of people supporting each other every day to get out and exercise resonated deeply. Even more importantly, all the money raised was going to Mind, which is a charity that has since become extremely close to my heart.
"Something about this challenge struck a chord with me. The very essence of a community of people supporting each other every day to get out and exercise resonated deeply."
In 2010 I experienced some milestone moments in my life, moments which I found very hard to cope with emotionally. I had always been a migraine sufferer but after one particularly severe attack my doctor asked me to come in and see him post recovery. At the surgery we discussed the contributory factors that may have led to the latest migraine and he gently suggested that I would benefit from speaking to a therapist. He gave me a local Mind helpline to contact and in many ways it was a relief as I knew that my body had been telling me for some time that I needed to make a change.
After much support from my husband I embarked on contacting Mind. I was petrified, not only because I was scared about what I was feeling, but also because I was worried about what others may think if they found out. I must be going ‘mad’ I would tell myself. Such was the perception of mental health at the time. Little did I realise I was about to enter into such a compassionate, understanding and non-judgemental community.
"After much support from my husband I embarked on contacting Mind. I was petrified. The day I got my referral letter I cried."
The day I got my referral letter I cried a lot. I cried for so many reasons, but once again my amazingly supportive husband encouraged me to fill it in and a few weeks later I met my therapist for the first time. It was the first of 12 free weekly sessions facilitated by Mind. The next 12 weeks changed my life.
My therapist was amazing. Every session, although emotionally draining at first, was like a light being switched on. I grabbed the CBT methods that were shown to me with both hands and quite literally, ran with them. I hadn’t realised until this point how much I had needed help and support. CBT therapy worked very effectively for me. It gave me the tools to cope with everyday life and rationalise my thoughts.
After the 12-weeks ended, I knew it wouldn’t be the last time I would see my therapist and over the last 9 and a half years I have been on an incredible journey with her. I truly believe that therapy has made me a better person, a better mummy, better friend and a better wife. I still have my bad days but therapy has helped me to be mindful and to rationalise and I am now able to seek help when I feel that my ‘inner counsellor’ isn’t working as well as it should be.
"RED January shone out to me as an initiative that promotes the benefits of exercise when you struggle with your mental health."
RED January shone out to me as an initiative that promotes the benefits of exercise when you struggle with your mental health. I know that when I’m feeling less than 100%, a run, or walk or exercise session will make me feel a million times better and set me up for the day. RED January promotes the positive effects of exercise and feeds right back into the very charity that helped me to be who I am today. The Mind and RED community is a very special one. I have made some lovely friends who I can imagine will be friends for life and who help each other not just in January, but throughout the year.
This is my journey. Everyone has their own path and each mental health journey is unique. My hope is that we continue inspire each other to live as good a life as we can, get help and support when we need it and work together to look after our mental health and well-being.
As my therapist had often reminded me, be good to yourself and be your own best friend.
"RED January promotes the positive effects of exercise and feeds right back into the very charity that helped me to be who I am today."
RED January 2020 will be my fourth year taking part in the challenge. It’s a firm favourite with my family and my two beautiful girls join in with me. It inspires them to come out and exercise with Mummy and that can only be a good thing.
Share your story with others
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.