I’m running the Virgin London Marathon on 28th April for two reasons. One – to challenge myself, and two – to raise money and awareness for Mind and mental health.
The challenge part of it has been satisfied, as just training to run a marathon isn’t fun at all. Especially when you throw in plenty of bad weather and the physical effects it has on your body. I hate to say it, but I actually can’t think of many benefits to long distance running at all…
I don’t feel any fitter, my legs ache all the time, my spare time is taken up training, and those happy hormones – those endorphins everyone talks of? I don’t experience them after a long run — just relief when it’s over. And that’s just the physical part! Mentally, you have to be strong to keep pushing yourself through the pain barrier on those long runs.
But hey, if it was easy…
The most important thing is raising money and awareness for mental health, which is becoming something of a hot topic right now and is starting to be talked about more openly, but we’ve still got a way to go. This wasn’t the case too long ago.
From my own personal experience, trying to get help with or talk about these kinds of things just didn’t happen at all. Whether mental health issues are on the increase or people are just coming out about this more — who knows? But our world has changed significantly, even in the past 30 years. Go back further and the differences become even more pronounced.
Now, compared to my grandparent’s generation, life is a hell of lot easier. Food is better, modern medicine is better, most work isn’t physically backbreaking, there aren’t any current world wars, etc. These mainly apply to first-world countries, of course. There’s plenty of countries in the world where life’s still damn hard.
When just getting through the day was your best outcome, you didn’t have time to think about stuff, or Instagram, or Facebook; you weren’t bombarded by information constantly; technology wasn’t moving life at such speed that it was hard to keep up; there wasn’t the social breakdown we have today — I could go on. Compared to the physically hard lives of yesteryear, it all sounds like a bit of a whinge.
In the past, I’ve done physically demanding jobs where you don’t have time to think about stuff, and when you get home, you have some food and need to crash. Now, my work has no physical demands whatsoever, apart from moving my eyeballs and fingers, but the level of pressure is completely different. There’s plenty of time to think about stuff, and sometimes, thinking is very bad!
There are many reasons why issues like depression and anxiety are on the increase. I could talk about this for a long time, and there are many more-learned people than me who can make the case better. But the main concern is to make sure we can be more open about this and get help when it’s needed.
At oe:gen we’re very open about these issues and are putting things in place to help all our team members be in a good place. We’re very proud to support Mind to help people in our society. The estimated cost to the UK economy is in the billions, so anything we can do to mitigate this not only helps people but is good for the country as a whole.
Thank you, and wish me luck!