Loneliness of long distance runner eases mental illness

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LESLEY KEATING: A white-knuckle pursuit ending with a lesson in trust

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Simon Lamb says he struggles putting his trainers on every morning to go for a run.

That’s often the hardest part of my exercise routine as well, but Simon has a couple of extra challenges to face.

Not only is he bipolar, meaning even getting out of the house is an almost insurmountable task, but he also likes to run, and run, and then run some more.

He says he tried taking every medication designed for bipolar.

He tried every therapy going in order to try to be stable – to minimise the manic and depressive episodes typified by bipolar.

Nothing worked, and he was suicidal.

But then he began to run.

He says that not only does it take the excess energy out of his mania – after all, running 77 miles from London to Portsmouth would poop most people out – it also helps to lift him when he has sunk into the blackest of dark places in his depressive periods.

Mental illness is something we don’t talk about enough.

And it takes people like Simon to break down the stigma attached to being ‘mental’.

Simon is clearly in a healthy place, both in body and mind.

Hats off to him for trying to inspire other people with mental illness, whether chronic like bipolar or an acute illness caused by one particular thing.

Running isn’t for everyone, especially when the weather has turned, but getting out there and doing something – anything – won’t ever make things worse.

I, however, will be running in a couple of weeks – not quite Simon’s epic 77 miles, but the 10 of the Great South Run.

When I asked readers of this column to help me find a charity to raise money for I was contacted by Portsmouth Mind and by a lovely lady called Thelma.

She is involved in three carer support groups: The Compass Carers Support Group, Friday Carers and The Fellowship.

Both Thelma and Angela, from Portsmouth Mind, reminded me of the importance of not overlooking mental illness charities which is something Simon’s video has only reinforced.

You can watch it by going to: bbc.co.uk/sport/0/get-inspired/29560382.