As this week is Mental Health Awareness Week we were asked by Run Wales, ‘What is your one thing that makes you feel better? What is your #MyOneThing?’……

I sat there searching for an answer to the question and as corny as it sounds, it’s running. For me, there is nothing that can clear my clouded, muddled up brain and release my anxiety quicker or better than a good run. That feeling of total freedom, the fresh air and feeling that weight of the world disappear off your shoulders.

Running saved me, along with my love for my boys ‘Kevin & Perry’ and some good friends. I gave up running for a while, not by my choice and it’s obvious to me now that if I had still been running through this point of my life, then perhaps I would have been mentally stronger to deal with the issues going on at that time.

I was at my lowest point of my life when I started back running. I had finally plucked up the courage to get out of something that had depleted me both physically and mentally and was very nearly at the point of no return. I was an emotional wreck. I had been destroyed. I used to be ashamed to admit this but not anymore. I have nothing to hide. If anything, it’s made me more of a stronger person today than I have ever been.

That feeling of elation to be able to get back out and run was incredible and since then fast forward 6 years and nothing will ever stop me now. My life is back on track, I have a wonderful partner, I still have things that freak me out, that can be anything from a sentence spoken, an email or watching something similar on TV but I’m more confident now (still a way to go) than where I was.

When you’re at your lowest point, the only way is up, right?

Today marks 1 year since I gained my LiRF Run Leader qualification and what a year it has been. Not only for our run groups but the ladies and gents who come along and run with us every week.

They have not only got healthier and fitter but also gained new friends, an amazing support network, their confidence has shot up and for one lady in particular a chance to refuse anti-depressants from her GP in favour of running. This was down to a friend turning against her for no apparent reason other than jealousy. That jealousy then escalated into turning her group of friends, school mums and work colleagues against her, which in turn led to our lovely diva runner turning to the doctor for help. He told her to run or take the anti-depressants, so she ran. She only ever wanted to be able to run 3k without stopping and now she is running between 10 & 14k, she’s signed up as part of Team Run Diva Run for Cardiff Half Marathon this year and has said that this is all down to the running lifting her up and giving her back her confidence when she couldn’t see any other way out apart from medication.

Did you know more than 4 in 10 people say they have experienced depression? Yet the stigma still exists…….

Stand up, be counted and let people know you’re not ok. You’ll be surprised how much support is out there and if you feel you can’t tell a friend, speak to your GP, a counsellor or the many support networks that are currently out there.

Mind - 0300 123 3393
The Samaritans - 116 123
Rethink Mental Illness - 0300 5000 927