2014 is the year that would change my life for the better. Before that would happen though, I would have to wade through the quagmire of mental health and in the process, discover how my survival was dependant on the person closest to me; my wife. My name is Thomas Dunning and I am diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Social Anxiety disorder. This cocktail of mental illness came about through different life events. Those events ranged from bullying and constant assault during my childhood to the loss of my brother, and generally just not looking after myself.

My Running Journey

You could say my relationship with running started as a tool to lose weight. It wouldn’t be until a week in where I started to feel incredible in my self again; and that the control that I once lost on my own psyche was now regained and fully in my grasp. After learning what I could about myself and the conditions with which I live with – I wanted a new one. I weighed 23 and a half stone (329lbs); I was the heaviest I have ever been, and I was starting to look in the mirror at the traumatized shell of a being, and wishing I looked different. This then gave me the idea – a project – I wanted to lose weight, and I would do it by running.

Running For My Mental Health

The mental well being that accompanied the running came as a shock, in all honesty. I didn’t believe, at first, that physical exercise played any role in it. So the discovery was just simply an added bonus. After a week of running, I felt incredible. I was starting to plan things again and I was looking forward to what the next day had in store. Most importantly – I was smiling. Eight months had passed and I lost just short of eight stone (112 pounds). I felt amazing in the fact I was starting to look after my appearance, myself in general, and inadvertently my mental health. Since then I’ve never been better! As soon as I want to calm down or if I have had a particularly bad day, I remember two important things:

  1. My wife is always there for me and it’s okay to talk about my own emotions when I need to once in a while.

  2. I can lace up my trainers, put on my music playlist, and follow the pavement wherever it may take me – safe in the knowledge that any stress, negative, or intrusive thoughts will simply dissolve as my mental well being would slowly develop again.

How Running Freed Me

I can’t describe really how much running has done for me. Not just in a physical sense with the weight loss, but how it helps my mental health. It’s quite simply amazing and mostly a free (except the costs of some basic gear) activity which has taken me from the depths of self-harm and failed suicide attempts, to the highs of happiness and mental well being. Because of this, I now dedicate most of my spare time sharing my story and experience of mental health to help normalize the subject and break down the walls of mental health stigma. I’m always here for a chat about mental health or help motivate those with a mental health condition to get into running. I now live by a simple mantra – If you go through one day of a mental health issue; you are no longer a sufferer, but you’re a survivor. All it takes is one moment, one simple act, to not only momentarily motivate and increase your own well being; But to possibly change your life forever. My names Tom, and want to know: Are you okay?

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2/4/2019 | 3 min read

My names Tom and I want to know – Are you okay?

By Thomas Dunning