Jessica's story: running for my Dad's depression

When Jessica's Dad was diagnosed with depression it took her by surprise. Since the diagnosis she has developed her understanding of mental health and has worked together with her family to support him. She has turned this knowledge into a passion for fundraising for the Mental Health Foundation. Here is Jessica's story ...

I would like to introduce you to my Dad 

For anyone who knows my dad, he would be described as “a really happy guy, energetic, loves an adventure and to explore.” He is one of the most smiley, outgoing people I know and an absolutely fantastic dad. He is loving and kind, always the one laughing and having a great time at family gatherings and out at the pub.  

My dad was diagnosed with depression 

When I was 16, my dad was diagnosed with depression. It was a huge shock to everyone, including me, my brothers and my mum. It was initially incredibly difficult for us to accept. We felt like we had to put an explanation against why he was feeling that way and what was making him so unhappy.  

How can someone who is always happy and loving be fighting such a difficult internal battle every day? But there doesn’t always need to be a reason, sometimes you can be happy and everything can be going brilliantly yet inside there is this feeling that keeps growing until you feel like it’s never going to end. 

We worked together as a family to support him 

It took a while, but after my dad received help and we worked together as a family, we learnt to be open and honest with each other about how we are feeling. We have taken time to realise what steps need to be taken to support each other even when everything seems fine. My dad is a happy man, he is loving and I’m so lucky to have him. Having depression does not in any way mean that he is always down and unhappy and would never be the way I, nor anyone else, would describe him.  

For us, awareness and understanding of mental health problems was a key challenge, learning how we can accept it, and how we can support and help each other.  

We feel that more awareness is still needed 

I am a firm believer that more needs to be done to improve awareness of ways to understand each other’s mental health needs with education. It isn’t only the people that are isolated, crying and noticeably unhappy that are depressed.  

This was one of the many reasons I chose to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation.  

Raising money for the Mental Health Foundation with an active challenge 

I find that when I am active it helps me keep my emotions and mental health in balance. I have had my own struggles with anxiety, but when I am out running, I find that there is a huge difference in maintaining positive mental health. This made deciding to run the Edinburgh Half Marathon to raise money for MHF a perfect fit. I raised £585 for an organisation that supports a cause I am incredibly passionate about. 

The support I received from the Mental Health Foundation

The support leading up to the race and post-race was outstanding. I had a call half way through my training asking how I was getting on and felt reassured that if I needed anything from them that they were only a call or email away. It only added to my overall delight to be running for such an amazing and supportive charity.  

I found the race a huge challenge. Leading up to the race I had unfortunately had some issues with my knee, which half way through became bit of an issue. I had to walk some of the race but the support of the charity along with the many friends, family members and colleagues who had sponsored me kept me going and I finished with a personal best! At the finish I made my way to the Mental Health Foundation stand where I was provided with a goody bag, and offered a sports massage for any injuries! I was congratulated for my time and taking part.  

I feel proud of myself for having completed the race, and for making even a slight difference through raising money in support of the Mental Health Foundation. I know as always my dad is proud of me too.  

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