“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience
a different life, run a marathon” – Emil Zatopek
So, after 10 years of trying my luck with the ballot, I’ve finally bitten the bullet and applied for, and received, a charity place for the London Marathon.
Berlin may be faster, Tokyo more exotic, New York bigger and Boston more prestigious, but for me London has always been THE marathon. I’ve watched the TV coverage every year since I was a kid and it’s never failed to inspire me. Whether it’s the pros running a marathon at a quicker pace than I can run a mile, the touching and often tragic stories of first-timers, the costumes, the incredible support or that one of the busiest cities in the world comes to a standstill for a running race, it’s been near the top of my to-do list even before I became a running addict.
The 2017 race is going to be particularly meaningful for me, as I’ve just moved out of the greatest city in the world, after living there for the whole of my adult life. Moreover, I’m going to be representing, and hopefully raising large sums of money for, a cause that means a huge amount to me.
I’ve already written a little about my mental health identity crisis – that I’ve not, and probably never will be, definitively diagnosed with bipolar disorder, despite basing a whole blog on it.
It is as fascinating as it is frustrating to me that a doctor can’t do a brain scan or a blood test, give me a label and pack me off with some drugs that they know will make things better, like they can with so many other conditions. I would love to get rid of the constant self-doubt that comes with not knowing what I’m dealing with, or whether I’m just putting it all on.
This relative lack of understanding must also be a cause of misdiagnosis, or (at least in my case) non-diagnosis. For me it has also led to a fair amount of experimentation with different treatments, some of which have made my condition worse.
Although the brain is undoubtedly the most complex organ in the human body, part of the reason for this lack of understanding has to be down to the comparative lack of research.
Incredibly, despite the fact that one in four people experience mental illness each year, mental health research only receives 5.8% of the UK’s total health research spend. And it’s not just the State – for every £1 spent by the Government on mental health research, the public donates just 0.3p, compared to £2.75 for cancer research.
This is why I’m running for MQ. MQ is a charity that funds crucial research into the nature, causes, diagnosis, prevention, treatment and cure of all forms of mental illness. Its vision is to create a world where mental illness is understood, effectively treated, and ultimately prevented. Set up in 2013, it’s already funding research projects into a wide range of mental illnesses, using a variety of methods, undertaken by scientific institutions all over the world.
I’ll be setting up a fundraising page shortly, and will be posting, tweeting, texting, emailing and shouting the link. I’ll also be posting training updates and further information about MQ, together with my usual meanderings.