• Mental Health, running and all things ‘Scarlett’

Mental Health, running and all things ‘Scarlett’

As one of seven Mental Health Ambassadors for the #runandtalk campaign, my job is to encourage people to talk about their own experiences of mental health, in the hope of breaking the stigma. So, here goes…

I shan’t go into any great detail about how my ‘depression’ first became apparent (I’d be happy to converse about it at any time) – I’m possibly not sure of quite how it did. Losing my Nanna broke me completely, I couldn’t eat, I hardly spoke, I even developed a stammer and I even got kicked out of history class for being argumentative (I was a model student at school).

My Grandparents raised me and were incredibly important to me, losing them made me feel that I had lost part of myself and my identity. I changed my surname to Scarlett (my Nanna’s maiden name) in memory of my Nanna, three weeks after she left us. This was an incredible change for me I was so proud to be a Scarlett and I felt a duty to carry on my Grandparents’ values and morals as I went into adulthood.

The issues surrounding my depression seem to stem from my lack of self-esteem and being uncomfortable in social situations. I always tend to point out the negative parts of myself rather than thinking that at times (we can all be guilty of that), I can be quite good company.                                                                                                                         A comment I often get when a photo is being taken is ‘why don’t you smile?’ Simple answer, I’m not unhappy but sometimes, I just can’t smile. I’ve never been able to smile in photos, I can remember when I was 6, I was exactly the same as I am now. I laugh about it and pretend I’m miserable, but this is what I believe to be my low self-esteem showing its physical symptoms (at a very low level).

As for social situations, I don’t enjoy being in large groups and would rather have the ground swallow me up in most instances! I continue to try to get more comfortable with this, HPH has been extremely helpful in this respect- so thank you!

I often think that social media can do more harm than good in these circumstances, the pressure on women to have perfect lives and look a certain way can be ridiculous and can have a great and detrimental impact on an individual. I can imagine that the pressure on men has a powerful impact too.

I began running when I was in my first year of University, back in 2012. I’d realised I wasn’t doing any exercise and was inspired by an ex colleague and friend of mine who was always running. I used to text her to tell her I’d run a mile and she would be incredibly proud. She took me along to Sewerby parkrun in 2013, I absolutely hated it, cried afterwards and then looked forward to doing it all again the next week when I was back in Leeds.

Running became my dependable crutch. If I was happy, I ran, if I was sad, I ran, if I was unsure of how I felt, I ran. I’d suffered with what I would term ‘situational depression’ since losing my Nanna and running gave me the confidence to tackle my problems head on.

I’d always known mental health was important to me, but I began to see the link between running and improved mental health. Meeting Caroline at parkrun gave me a friend and a confidant who I later learnt was incredibly passionate about mental health too! Three years later, when Caroline mentioned that she had heard about the #runandtalk campaign, we gave each other a certain ‘yep, we’ve got this’ look and we knew this was the start of something good.

Now I’m so proud to say that #runandtalk has seven wonderful mental health ambassadors and our monthly group is larger than ever. I’m so passionate about the campaign and I know it has the power to bring smiles, support and awareness to many people throughout the club and the wider community.

I owe a great deal of thanks to all the lovely people who have supported me and helped me through the tough and the good times. Whether you’re a friend, companion (former or current) or someone I haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know fully yet, believe me, your support is wholly appreciated and always remembered. If you’ve ever made me smile, laugh or hiccup (which I seem to do when I find something very funny), then thank you so very, very much.

Sam Scarlett

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