“On 11th May 2019, my world came crashing down when I received a call to tell me that my best friend had lost her battle with mental health. I still remember that phone call like it was yesterday; it plays in my mind every single day. I remember trying to cry, but I couldn’t. I remember telling the caller ‘you’re joking, this has got to be a joke’. But as the phone call ended, reality hit and the tears came – and they didn’t stop. Kirsty and I had so many plans for the upcoming summer – nights out, day sessions in the beer garden and a holiday to Tenerife – and with just one phone call, I felt like the whole summer was over.
Kirsty had never shied away from her struggles with her mental health, but she hid it well. She was so strong and cared more about others welfare than her own. She was always making sure those around her felt happy and loved – she was the definition of a true friend. Sure, I was aware that she struggled at times, but I never knew the extent and the real pain she was going through and that is what hurts the most. I questioned myself for weeks and months after- If only I could have helped her, made her talk about her feelings more – would it have helped?
After the initial shock was over, I decided I wanted to do something in Kirsty’s memory; something to challenge myself and help others that may be struggling with their mental health. The half marathon had been in my mind for a while, after completing a couple of local park runs, but I always put it to the back of my mind – I struggled to run 3 miles, how would I ever run 13?! Before I could change my mind, I signed up and shortly after, received my email confirmation that I was taking part in the Colchester Half Marathon 2020. I chose to raise money for Mid and North East Essex Mind. I wanted to be able to contribute in helping others who struggle with their mental health and by raising as much money as I could for this amazing charity was a start.
From being someone who didn’t even run for the bus, to training for the half marathon has been tough. Both physically and mentally. It may not seem a lot to some people, but it is a big challenge for me. There have been times I have wanted to give up, there have been times I’ve almost thrown up and there have been times I’ve been sat with a bag of frozen peas on my shins. But every time I think about giving up, Kirsty pops into my mind and I remember why I’m doing it and that’s who I’ll be thinking of on the day too. I have managed to double the target what I originally planned to raise, which I am incredibly thankful for and seeing the kindness and generosity of people really does spur me on.
I am not qualified to give advice and it sounds cliché, but I would say to anyone facing a mental health problem – you are not alone. Talk to someone, anyone. A family member, a friend, a colleague or someone from Mid and North East Essex Mind. My own mental health suffered last year but by talking to people about it, I found it really helped and although I may complain about the half marathon training, it takes my mind off things and makes me feel great after.
If anyone is considering fundraising for Mid and North East Essex Mind, whether it be a bake sale, a sponsored silence or even that half marathon run ( or full marathon if you’re feeling brave), then do it. Every penny you raise can help someone in need. The staff that work there are so accommodating and kind. I have been in touch with them a few times during my fundraising journey and they are always happy to hear from you. Kirsty’s loved ones also done a 3 mile walk for her on her birthday weekend last year and raised an incredible amount of money for Mid and North East Essex Mind and this will always be my charity of choice.
These past 8 months have been incredibly tough, but with the right people around me and Kirsty in my mind every day, I know it will get easier. This is all for you Kirsty – I hope you’re proud!”