Editor’s note: This is the 12th in a series of monthly mental health guest posts, so it is a proper birthday! To celebrate, I was lucky to get Dave Urwin, fundraiser extraordinaire, to slow down long enough to write about his experience of mental ill-health and the amazing way he has found to work at his recovery. He tests his body and mind, raising thousands of pounds for mental health charities Mind and Mind Taunton & West Somerset, where he works. He was instrumental in the establishment of Mind TWS’ Ecotherapy project ‘Go Wild Stay Well’.
He has also come up with a great fundraising challenge. If you feel able to support him with a 50 pence pledge, the links are all included below.
“Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the ones who are doing it”
The quote with which I have titled this blog, which I am honoured to have been asked to write by Suzie, is taken from a runner, Jo, that I’ve never met but who inspires me beyond belief. Recently he decided to run across Spain; an ambition he’d held for some time, but this year he actually went and did it. I’ll leave it to Jo to give you the full story……
My name’s Dave, and throughout my whole life I’ve struggled with low self-esteem and depression. There are many reasons for this; a lot of which I worked out with my counsellor this year, many more I’m probably still not even aware of, and may never be. These feelings I think are different for everyone, and you have to find your own way to manage them. These are three of the main things that help me: -
- In order to be well, you have to strike a balance between looking after others and looking after yourself. Do too much of the former if it doesn’t go both ways and you will burn yourself out, do too much of the latter without any of the former and life may seem a little hollow. I’m still working on finding the right balance.
- It’s Ok to not be Ok. By this I mean that naturally there will be events in life that will not be to your liking; you’re only human, and if you feel sad you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t try and fight it; accept it, allow yourself the time and space to process it, and in time it’s more than likely that you will feel better. Happiness and sadness are not constant states; they are just different parts of who you are. Of course the ideal state is for the former to outweigh the latter, but there are bound to be times when this is not the case. Think of it like seasons. Summer will fade, but it will come back again. Winter will arrive, but it won’t stay forever.
- There is little that cannot be solved with a nice, long run (or walk.)
Let me expand on point 3. One day in early April this year I was so depressed that I was unable to concentrate on anything at all. I decided I might as well go for a run, because it might give me a little respite from how I was feeling. Within just a couple of miles the edge had been taken off things; everything that was troubling me in my daily life had been put to one side. It was just me and the outdoors, and my only focus was to keep moving forward. I didn’t want to stop. To cut a long story short, I eventually went on to complete 27 miles; just over a full marathon. Admittedly, after about 15 miles proper running became less and less of a possibility and towards the end it was something of an ungainly stagger, but on that day I learnt a crucial lesson.
Of course, this is not a lesson that is always remembered. There are times when life seems to have dealt me another poor hand, and it seems easier to believe that I’m a woefully inept person and that my life has no purpose, but my counsellor Josephine taught me to think rationally and my first marathon taught me that maybe nothing is out of reach. These lessons are always there, waiting to be rediscovered, and having learnt them I feel better equipped to fight my demons than ever I have before.
I like to think that several others may have learnt similar lessons during the Walk on the Wild Side challenge this year. This was a walking challenge on the Quantocks that I organised to raise funds for Mind in Taunton and West Somerset’s ‘Go Wild, Stay Well’ project, which enables people experiencing mental distress to feel the therapeutic benefits of nature by taking part in conservation work on several stunning nature reserves in the Quantock and Blackdown Hills. There were 16 participants, five of whom joined me for the whole 30 miles and another 11 joined us half way through to complete 15 miles. Every single one of them completed the challenge, and a number who had completed the 15 mile walk said they would want to do 30 if it was on next year, despite having expressed real reservations about their ability to walk 15 miles before the event. Four of the participants from the 30 mile walk had never walked anywhere near that far in a day before, but all were successful through sheer determination, and through the wonderful sense of camaraderie and humour within the group. For a full report, and for some quotes from participants, please visit…..
So, this brings me onto my own astronomical endeavour. I’m not going to run across Spain, or England, or even Liechtenstein (well Ok, that wouldn’t even be a full marathon) but let me explain…
A chain of events has occurred, during which I found out that if one per cent of the UK’s population donated 50 pence to any given cause it would raise £30,000……or so I thought! It turns out that my incredibly sloppy mathematical processes meant that I didn’t bother to check this calculation, which was wrong – it would actually raise £300,000. I think the only way I can retain any dignity from this appalling mathematical mistake is to actually try and make it happen.
This year I’ve run a number of events, including a 32 mile ultramarathon on the Jurassic Coast and will next run the Somerset Levels and Moors marathon on 10th September (my 30th birthday). I literally will not stop until the target has been met.
I have set up a page on bmycharity.com that can take donations of this amount – it may seem like an awful lot of effort putting in all your details online to donate 50 pence (and there is no obligation to do so of course) but Mind is a fabulous charity and Mind in Taunton & West Somerset would benefit hugely from one 50 pence when combined with other 50 pences from anyone who has one to spare. I really believe this could be a superb way of fundraising – it’s not going to break the bank for anyone, but the results really could be astronomically amazing.
If you wish to donate please visit www.bmycharity.com/daveurwin
I leave you with this final thought; why not think of something you’ve wanted to do for a long time that you could achieve if you just went ahead and did it? Go ahead and do it. If you don’t feel better for having done so I will change my name by deed poll to Uncle Balthazaar.