My name is Marlee Pryde and I have been running 5k a day throughout the month of May to raise money and awareness about mental health.

 I am not a natural runner and PE was never a subject that I was overly fond of in school. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression back in 2012 that I started to look for coping strategies that helped me feel better. Writing is much more my forte but over the last 18 months I have taken up running thanks to writer Bella Mackie’s book – Jog On. The first few times I ran I absolutely hated it and I’m not shy to say that it took me a long time to find my stride with running both physically and mentally.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, I have realised that many people may be struggling with their mental health, perhaps for the first time or have their problems exacerbated. Normally in a crisis we are able to rally together. The reason that this pandemic feels foreign for our brains is because we are being asked to do the absolute opposite. Stay at home and stay away from our loved ones and friends. As humans, we are social beings and by being asked to social distance this can cause a rise in many mental health difficulties. 

I decided to set myself a challenge to help people in my local community. The reason I chose Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind was because I realised that people may be needing these services more than ever, both during and post Covid-19. These charities rely on our donations and fundraising to keep the services available. I know first-hand just how important these services are for people having received counselling and therapy myself multiple times over the years.

Throughout my challenge, Lorna and the team at Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind were actively involved providing words of encouragement and support. They also sent a personal card when I completed my challenge and I was really grateful for their kindness. It was lovely to feel a part of something bigger even though it was mostly a solo mission.

What I learnt from my challenge is that I can achieve anything I set my mind to if I have enough determination. If you had told me in 2012 that I would still be here today and that I not only have been able to find ways of living with my anxiety and depression but I actively talk about it to others, I’m not sure that girl would have believed you. I have been blogging and sharing my story through my social media pages. I live in hope that the more people share their stories and talk about their experiences with mental health so that it may help someone else and to reduce the stigma that sadly still surround this subject.

I will continue to support mental health services across the Teesside area and will be back fundraising again…though maybe after I give my toes a well deserved break!