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Here at Sports Tours International we love running and how it can provide physical and mental benefits to so many lives. Health and Wellbeing is at the forefront of what we do. In this blog we caught up with our Mental Health Champion, Cameron, to discuss his Cardiff Half Marathon experience and the importance of talking about mental health. So over to Cameron…
Last weekend (07th October 2018) was the 15th annual Cardiff Half Marathon, welcoming runners from all over the commonwealth and the globe to the beautiful Welsh capital.
I ran it in support of ‘Mind’ the mental health charity.
When I first started at Sports Tours, I didn’t know what to expect. I had swum competitively before, but never ran or cycled (Mainly because my anxiety was so bad I couldn’t run without the fear of being laughed at). So when everyone welcomed me with open arms I felt like I finally belonged somewhere.
I was in therapy for my anxiety and depression when I first started here, and one of the many goals I had set for myself was to do a lot more for charity. I’d never actually done anything before, so I told myself that now I work for a sports company I should really do a race or something.
So my therapist told me to enter into a run (I don’t think she intended on me entering a half marathon though!). So the next day in work I decided to take the plunge; I looked on the Mind charity website and saw the Cardiff Half Marathon was open for entries. I immediately filled with joy and in a moment of madness (or stupidity) went and booked a charity place to run the half marathon.
“But why Cardiff?” I hear you ask! Well, allow me to explain.
For me, Cardiff has always been a place where I feel safe, welcomed and free. It’s always somewhere I’ve wanted to be, even when I was younger I would dream of one day living in Wales. I don’t know what it is about the Welsh (people and language) but they have something different. Something special, which has always enticed me.
So, now I’ve booked to run the half marathon, it’s time for me to actually start training…
Running was something I always hated doing. I hated how I looked when I ran, mainly because I have always been conscious about my weight and I hated being picked on for being fat. My mum had told me to download the ‘Couch to 5k’ app as a good starting point.
When the big day approached, I was both excited and nervous. I didn’t sleep a wink that night as the adrenaline and nerves had kept me up. But as soon as I crossed that start line, I was determined to finish.
I never believed that running and exercise was good for mental health, because I’d always hated it and my anxiety was always too bad to ever leave the house and go to the gym, but now I believe that running may just be what I needed. All those countless hours of training, crying, stretching and blisters all came down to help me cross the finish line in 3 hours, 2 minutes and 44 seconds. Which for my first half marathon isn’t too bad!
Yesterday was World Mental Health day, I wanted to write about how having mental health problems doesn’t stop you from doing incredible things.
Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar 2, which means that I have horrendous depressive episodes. Some can last a week, or they can last an hour. There’s no real telling when it’s going to happen or how long they will stay for, but one thing is for certain. Is that I have this for life.
But bi-polar is just another diagnosis for me to add onto all the Mental Health problems I already have:
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Body Dismorphic Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
All of these problems don’t make my life the easiest thing to live in. Whether it’s getting out of bed in the morning and crying because I hate my body, or having a panic attack before walking into work because I think I’m bad at my job and I’ll get fired for making a small mistake.
Before now, my coping mechanism was to go and self harm, as it was the only way I knew how to stop feeling like I did when I was experiencing a depressive episode, but now I know that running is my coping mechanism.
It’s so easy to start doing, and it gives you that (literal) breath of fresh air that you need to just let all your worries go. For that 10/20/30 minutes that you’re running, the only thing that matters is how fast your going, and when you’re going to stop.
When I was 14 I didn’t think I’d make it to 18. When I was 18 I didn’t think I’d make it to 21. Now I stand here, at 21 years old with a half marathon under my list of accomplishments.
No matter how alone you feel, no matter how weak you think you are, no matter what you’ve gone through or what you’re going through, you are so much stronger than you think.
I know it sounds so cliché, but I’m telling the truth when I say this:
“The only person stopping you from achieving amazing things is yourself.”
It’s time to break the glass ceiling when it comes to MH. Let’s scream it from the roof tops, that it’s okay not to be okay, be proud of your scars, be proud of who you are and most importantly be proud of how far you’ve come.
Its time to change the way we think about mental health.
Let’s be the difference in the world.
For all help and support, please visit www.mind.org.uk. If you want to make a difference in the way we see mental health, please also visit Mind’s website where there are plenty of opportunities to fundraise and volunteer.
If you are struggling with Mental Health or feel like you are in a crisis, please either go to your nearest A&E department, or call Samaritans on 0800 1111.
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