MIGHTY BLIGHTY

I feel proud to be a British citizen right now…for the simple reason that lately there has been an explosion of MENTAL HEALTHNESS all over the UK media.

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Everyday there is a mental health story in the top headlines, and rightly so….

As pointed out by the royals…”mental health underpins EVERYTHING”

Last night was TV gold for me (being a person passionate about mental health and influencing public attitudes to be more accommodating and less stigmatising towards those of us living with mental health issues).

The BEEB aired the first part of the two-part documentary “Mind over Marathon”

I LOVED IT and wanted to do lots of excited mental health blogger things such as air punching, twerking, shimmying, and all other kinds of happy enthusiastic madness.

I also happened to cry LOTS at various points throughout the programme, but especially at the end…I won’t say what happened, as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it but here is a taster….

You can catch it on BBC iPlayer, and make sure to record part 2 which is on tonight I believe :)

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Here is a YouTube vid of the first screening of Mind Over Marathon with Prince William’s reaction :)

And here is the interview with the presenter, Nick Knowles and some of the runners on the One show….I’m now following him on Twitter due to some of the genius things he said which really contributed to reducing stigma.

Last night, I felt proud to call myself an empowered mental health survivor. I seriously couldn’t be prouder to belong anywhere than the community I belong to now.

I am part of a Facebook group which I have written about lots before…RED Running Group. We met as strangers during R.E.D (Run Every Day) January…a social movement to get people moving every day in January to boost mental health and raise funds for Mind, UK.

Because we came together in January to #beattheblues ourselves and have seen the tangible observable improvements in our functioning, fitness, self-esteem, sense of achievement, inner confidence and sense of belonging and community, we were all particularly excited to watch this BBC One doc. We relate so much to those people featured in the documentary, because we are doing similar to what those volunteers bravely did. We are committing to boosting our daily movement and fitness, in an effort to cope better with our myriad inner demons. We have all worked hard, trained and supported each other all of this year so far, developing strong friendships and collectively reducing the stigma on mental health.

We have ran in our Mind t-shirts. We have posted our training selfies and JustGiving links on our social media feeds. We have inspired and motivated and encouraged each other on our darkest days, and we are all stronger as a result of belonging to this movement.

Today I shared this on my Facebook page…It is part of the 1 in 4 social media campaign that has gone viral.

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Running IS amazing for mental health. Unlike many other forms of exercise, running is natural human behaviour. It IS natural for a human being to walk and to jog and to run. It is NOT natural by contrast to sit behind desks and lounge on sofas and eat pizzas. Humans are primed to MOVE. Is it any wonder depression is the leading cause of ill health in the world…when our lifestyles are more sedentary than ever?

People will often avoid running, because it is initially a very hard thing to do if your body has accommodated to a sedentary lifestyle. I know how hard my first run was.

If we don’t move our muscles, our muscles waste away and diminish in strength, flexibility and stamina.

If we don’t USE IT, we will most certainly LOSE IT.

Muscles have to be worked, and the more we work them, the better they operate and the better our physical health. Just like brain cells which we don’t use are pruned by the brain and die off, muscles waste if we don’t exercise them as our body thinks they are unnecessary. Another analogy…children raised in loving homes tend to find adult relationships easier for years to come. Our template if we have been born into an environment like this where we exist in happy relationships is to love and be loved back in return comparatively easily. If we aren’t used to love, we become less capable loving ourselves.

It is just the same with running and exercise. If we are used to feeling fit and healthy and having an active lifestyle, we will find it much easier to maintain that fitness and activity level and that becomes our norm.

When I ran for the first time on the 1st January, I was very unfit. I had got used to a sedentary lifestyle. I thought it’d be a bit of a laugh, and I liked the idea of daily exercise due to the weight gain of the anxiety tablets (which are now out of my system incidentally yaaay!) I never predicted I’d stick at it and still be doing it in April! I also didn’t predict I’d be doing my first 10k in June and my first charity Half Marathon in October! Running has just stuck with me, and that is largely because of the support of the other mental health lovelies that I met back in January.

Watching the documentary last night, I thought back to those early runs in the freezing cold, and contrasted that with my run last night in the early evening sunset where I got my 5K personal best! How far running has brought me I reflected. Not only can I run faster and for longer, but I enjoy it and it is the best anti-depressant you can get-the only side effect being achey muscles, but I have rest days and don’t push myself too hard :) The camera sweated last night…don’t know why!

Look at me now….I am on one tiny dose anti-depressant and no anxiety tablets. I am a fundraising volunteer for Tyneside & Northumberland Mind who is going to walk Hadrian’s Wall for them! I am a media volunteer for National Mind. I have been in the Independent and the Daily Express. I have written for the NHS, PharmaTimes and Mind.  I’ve done two radio interviews. The BBC Breakfast producer has my phone number and email address! I have an army of caring friends, am shortly to see Dr Cautious (my psychiatrist) for the very last time, am winding up my therapy sessions with my clever psychologist lady, and I am even actually tempted to consider a marathon next year after watching last night’s programme!

It is literally BONKERS in a brilliant way!

Tyneside and Northumberland Mind are launching a social media campaign soon which is top secret but the product of one of my ideas! I also have another top secret project which is FAR too exciting to blog about just yet ;) and I have a notebook of other brilliant ideas that I just need to get around to doing.

Running kicked off ALL OF THIS!

My brain is alert. My creativity is boosted. My resilience is better than it has been for years and years.

I’m not “fixed”. I’m still broken… but I hope I am proof that broken people can still function and make valuable contributions to the world around them.

So what if my brain is a bit wonky? So what that I have BPD and PTSD. I can still run! We can all run, unless we have a physical disability. However I have a friend with Spina Bifida who still runs. If he can do it, we all can (if we want to!) I am not too broken to make friends. I am not too broken to volunteer. I can still be a success. I hope I will find paid work soon and then I’ll be a paid broken person :) I am confident of my future potential and I know if I stick at my running, that my running will help me do all this :)

We can all do better than we ever expected, if we get our heads together and keep our mind over Marathon.

This weekend I’ll be cheering on my pal Sophia. She is running the Heads Together London Marathon for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind (my charity).

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Every donation she gets is being matched by her employer…so if you donate on this link, the charity will receive DOUBLE money.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE DOUBLE MONEY

Thanks for reading and supporting me always….

Imani Summer

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10 thoughts on “MIGHTY BLIGHTY

  1. This is so life affirming and I feel you must be so prouf of what you have achieved over the last months. I actually cried listening to P William speak knowing how he lost his own Mum and the grief he must have suffered. Bless you i will reblog this as it deseves so much recognition. Love Deborah ❀

  2. The positivity is almost exploding out of this post. :D

    I’ve not cried in weeks (I’m not big on it, generally)… but within minutes of watching Knowlesy’s programme last night, I was in lots of tears. Really moving and really, really good.
    (I heard Part 2’s on next Thursday… but it SHOULD’VE been tonight. Grr.)

    Keep runnin’, Professor …. mwah! :D x

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