Running to Recover – My Update

It’s been 18 months since I documented my recovery out of severe depression. I wrote about my journey, at the request of the NHS team, that had supported me during my 2-year battle with mental health problems. They have recently asked me for an update on my progress.

My previous “Running to Recover” story has been shared with others (and published in some online running magazines), it has hopefully provided others in crisis, some hope, that they too can overcome depression, and get back to a normal and happy life. Depression can feel like a life sentence, you just have to believe it will pass. Hopefully hearing other people’s recovery stories, will help them in that belief.

My Mental Health

I have had no mental health issues during the last 18 months. I continue to live without any medication (this was approved by the NHS doctors). None of those feelings of very low mood, or the anxiety I was previously suffering, have returned.

I know that statistically, there is a good chance I might have a relapse at some point in my life, so continually check-in with myself. My wife, friends and other family members frequently ask me how I am feeling. I don’t find it intrusive, it’s nice to have people that genuinely care for you.

My Prostate Cancer

I previously wrote about my diagnosis of stage 2 prostate cancer in early 2021. After my subsequent HIFU treatment, I am now under “active surveillance” with the NHS urology team at St. Georges Hospital, Tooting. I have PSA blood tests every 3 months, and a Prostate MRI scan annually. At this stage, the cancer seems to be under control. I managed to raise in excess of £4600 for Prostate Cancer UK, taking part in various running events on 2022/23 (see below).

My Running

My Team

Running played a significant part in my recovery process from the depressive state I fell into. In late 2018, when “my fall” happened, I was on the brink of completing the Centurion Running 50 Grand Slam. This was running all 4 of their 50-mile ultra marathons in a calendar year.

By October 2018, I had completed 3 of the 4 races, but on the day of the 4th and final event, I found myself in a secure mental health ward. I’m glad to say that in 2022, as part of my fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK, I completed all 4 races and belatedly gained my Grand Slam medal.

50 Grand Slam Gongs

It was during the Grand Slam events that I befriended a runner called Ben. Ben had advised me of a mental health charity called Run Talk Run that he was a Run Leader for. This instantly sparked my interest, and he kindly set up a zoom call with me, and gave me more details on the charity. This call led me to speaking to the charity organisers, and in May 2022, I setup my own Run Talk Run group in my local area of Coulsdon.

Run Talk Run is a free, weekly 5Km run, whose main aim is to provide a safe environment for people to meet and provide each other peer support. It aims to both boost physical health, along with mental wellbeing, through the simple act of running with a group of likeminded people.

I am glad to say, that after 1 year, the Run Talk Run Coulsdon group is still going strong to this day, and it gives me immense pleasure, to meet, help others and assist them with their running ambitions. One member of the group, who had never run a race before joining Run Talk Run, completed the London Marathon in 2023, simply by being inspired by the group.

Run Talk Run Coulsdon

It was during my application to become a “Run Leader” for Run Talk Run , that I also undertook and passed the English AthleticsLeader in Running Fitness” coaching qualification. This was a great help in setting up and managing my own group runs.

I also had my 15 mins of fame (ok it only lasted 1 minute), when I was interviewed and appeared on the BBC News, after completing the 2022 London Marathon, dressed as Darth Vader. I had such a great day interacting with fellow runners and supporters during the race. The costume certainly made for a memorable day.

Darth Vader takes to streets of London

My Fishing

I learned to fish as a small boy, and it was always a passion for me. A common side effect of depression, is you stop doing the things you used to love. This happened to me during my depressive episodes, I stopped fishing, running, going to the gym etc etc. But once I started to feel better, I made a conscious effort to get back into my fishing. Having a hobby you love, especially one that takes you into the great outdoors and close to nature, is such a major boost for your mental health.

I joined some new fishing clubs, and have even became the secretary of one of them. My passion for angling is fully re-ignited again !

My Passion for Angling

My Dog

Without doubt, one of the best changes in my life, was when Barney, my working cocker spaniel arrived as a 10-week-old pup in 2021. I can’t describe the joy he brings my wife and I. He is a dog with endless energy, so our lifestyle has had to undergo a massive change, to ensure he gets the exercise and stimulus he needs. Staying indoors, even when the weather is bad, is not an option with Barney, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Going for long walks with Barney and my wife, is simply the best way to spend the day.

Barney

My challenges

I’m glad to say I have had no significant health issues in the last 18 months. I was suffering from constant stomach pains. These were later diagnosed as a double hernia. Thankfully, I have now had corrective surgery on both, and the stomach issues are a thing of the past.

I have unsurprisingly, had a string of “running related injuries” (I won’t bore you with the details), which have so far, prevented me completing another 100- mile running race. Luckily, I have joined an amazing local gym called T2FIT, and am working with them, on honing this near 60-year old body, to be able to cover this race distance again, sometime soon. As well as the exercise part of the gym, it also provides a good routine along with a great social aspect to my life.

There have been some other significant events during the last few years.

Most notable was when my father was diagnosed with Late Onset Alzheimer’s in early 2022. Along with some other medical conditions, and a history of frequent falls, he has become 100% dependent on my mother, for most aspects of his life. He is also reliant on a wheelchair, when leaving the house. As we live nearby, my wife and I try and make daily visits to them to check they are ok, to take them out shopping etc and generally help them with day to day life.

We are in the so called “Sandwich Generation“, where we still look after our own children (not so much these days), as well as our aging parents. I don’t see this as an onerous task, and certainly gives me a sense of purpose, ensuring both my parents are happy and looked after.

I have unfortunately lost a couple of very good friends over the last 2 years. Both died suddenly, and was a timely reminder to me, to live life to the full, and live for moment.

My advice

I no longer have that well paid job in London. Money is tight, but I don’t want to return to my old life. I strive for a simpler and stress free existence.

Health is wealth, and life is short. Prioritise your health and wellbeing. Exercise regularly, and get outside daily. Remember “motion is lotion“.

Make good choices in what you eat and drink. Socialise with family and friends often.

Experience life to the full, and pursue your passions, and who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Live for Today!

Useful Links

My Blogs

Prostate Cancer UK

Run Talk Run

Centurion Running

Alzheimer’s Society

One response to “Running to Recover – My Update”

  1. Lorraine Hecquet Avatar
    Lorraine Hecquet

    Met you through T2FIT and did not know any of the above just thought you were a lovely man now I think your a super hero big love to you your wife and family oh and the dog all being a blessing

    Like

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