For years, I’ve battled severe OCD. It began in my younger years, roughly around 6 years old. Small repetitive compulsions like walking down the street making sure I touched each lamp-post as I passed it, gradually becoming worse to a point where at bedtime, I’d check my wardrobes for monsters up to 50 times before I could even contemplate getting into bed!
At the age of 21, my OCD spiralled & took over my life in the form of Intrusive obsessions. These unwanted, intrusive & repulsive thoughts, images & urges would repeatedly enter my mind, tormenting me & causing me a world of pain. I needed help, anything to help me deal with this awful disease. I’d exhausted all options on the NHS, tried every therapy under the sun to a point where I was close to giving up hope!
On the 28th July 2017, running handed me a lifeline. I ran with it.
The previous day I’d been signed off work long term. I’d woken up that morning feeling lower than I’d ever felt before. It was a beautiful day outside, but my curtains were drawn shut. I had to do something, I wasn’t prepared to let my thoughts defeat me. I know the drill with OCD, I know exactly what comes next; fear, anxiety and then the inevitable depression sets in.
I made a decision that day, a decision that truly changed my life; In fact, it saved my life! I put on a pair of gym shorts, a t-shirt, some old trainers and I left the house. I wasn’t a runner, I’ve never been a runner! But that day I just ran…… I ran, I stopped, I ran, I stopped. Around an hour later, I’d ran 6 k, with around 5 stops. My thoughts and anxiety had slowed down, my mind felt a little clearer, the feeling was totally euphoric. In the past, I’ve tried every medication going, but the feeling after that run had surpassed it all.
Let me be clear, it was a short term fix. It lasted around an hour, but from that day on I absolutely lived for that feeling. I lived for the respite, the break, the feeling of almost normality; a feeling that I’d not felt for close to 10 years. I soon learned that the further I ran, the more mental freedom I’d gain. I went from running 10 k, to 15 k, to 20 k in a matter of weeks. In September 2017 I completed my first half marathon. In September 2018 I completed a 100 km ultra marathon and the same in 2019. I have big plans for 2020, with my key focus being to change the media misinterpretation of OCD and exploit it for what it is, one of the most debilitating diseases in the world.
On the back of my struggles, I created Run4YourMind – I’m now on a mission to support, motivate and inspire others struggling with mental illness to fight back through the power of running. My website and Instagram page has given me hope, it’s given me strength. It’s helped me help others and in turn helped me learn more about myself. I’ve just completed a public speaking course and next year I’ll embark on a journey of sharing my message with others, educating children and adults about the benefits running can have on your mental health.
I’m still on a long journey to recovery. Some days are brutal, some days I don’t even want to open my eyes in the morning, but I now know I have running. I know I have the best support network going. I know I’m mentally stronger now than ever before, I have to be. For now I’ve just got to keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep moving forward, keep running and eventually my demons won’t be able to keep up!
Thanks for the feature – Peter Thompson 💚
Please go check out the unbelievable work Pete does, he’s a true inspiration to me and so many others