Jamie's story: Running for better mental health

Jamie has found running to be invaluable in the fight against anxiety.

I was diagnosed with anxiety during a difficult chapter in my life. I was drinking heavily and the booze softened the anxiety but when I allowed myself to soberly reflect on my life, I was full of fear and experienced panic attacks. Due to my drinking I was not eligible for any help and I convinced myself that I didn't need any.

Four years after my original diagnosis and the loss of my father I attempted suicide and, while sitting in the Accident & Emergency waiting room, staring down at a bandaged arm, I finally realised myself. I was assigned a psychiatrist and together we established that I had never really faced anything.

I started running short distances which, at first, were to distract me but I began to feel good when I added another half mile to my runs. It had been a long time since I had felt good without the intake of alcohol. The anxiety was fading, and the more I pushed myself the more I felt the depression lose its grip on me. Those short runs at the beginning of my recovery were to become the foundations of who I am now.

The hardest part is taking those first few steps, be it putting on a pair of running shoes or signing up to a sports club, but once you have done that you will never look back. I am now running three times a week, have signed up to run the High Wycombe marathon to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation, and it is only ten months since I sat in that waiting room staring down at my bandaged arm feeling completely helpless.

I see no better way of doing this than with the easily accessible method that rewards you with endorphins, improves your overall health and teaches you that you do have control over your mind: exercise. Use today as a time to achieve something that challenges you, I have learnt that it is the only rite of passage into a brighter tomorrow.