Running with Fight to Shed Light on Mental Illness

Yvie - Running to Set a World Record
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Though you may not always hear about the prevalence of mental illness, the stats concerning it simply can’t be ignored. One-in-four adults will experience a mental health problem within any given year. One-in-ten young people will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Nine-in-ten people with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination.

About a year ago, one of our users, a former police officer, mother-of-3, design student, illustrator and multi-discipline athlete, Yvie, became one of those statistics. On April 23rd 2015, she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This didn’t come as a surprise, but it did rock her foundations and caused her to question her very existence.

“Who am I, then, if I am not a product of my condition?”

Five months after her diagnosis, her life started to come together again thanks to the decision to turn to running. A few things conspired to create this wave of motivation to get back into her trainers – an inspiring neighbour, an email, and a statement blurted out at her local Bipolar UK support group.

Building day-by-day, she decided she needed big goals to push her a little into training, so she entered two events that would test her endurance and hopefully jump-start an active life once more.

Donning a polar bear outfit, she swam and ran the Eirias Triathlon with her partner Tom, storming the bike leg and winning the relay team prize. Then a week later, she took on the Cardiff Half Marathon disguised once again as the cuddly BiPolar Bear, the mascot of the charity for which she was fundraising, Bipolar UK. They’ve been a big part of her recovery thanks to the support group, and Yvie reminds us that “the value of peer support cannot be underestimated – I feel I owe them so much more, hence the planning of this new adventure, Fierce Mind {Running}. I will effectively be running for my life and in support of mental health, and to help the lives of hundreds, hopefully thousands, more. Taking on this challenge will allow me to prove to myself that I can overcome a mental illness, not be undermined by it, nor undervalued by others because of it.”

What is the Fierce Mind {Running} challenge?

IMG_9879Starting April 2nd, for 42 days, Yvie will run from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back again. Averaging approximately 40 miles per day, supported by different voluntary cyclists and support drivers each day, she’ll run on roads, paths and even across the West Highland Way, so there will be plenty of hills involved.

Yvie is definitely not one to shy away from an uphill race. “I’m not afraid of mountains and trail, my first love is fell running, and I always said I’d never run a road marathon because they’re dull and boring. I’m looking forward to being proved wrong!”

One of the main goals that Yvie is keen to strive for is to show that there is no correlation between mental illness and mental weakness, hence the challenge being named Fierce Mind.

Yvie goes onto explain more about what the Fierce Mind concept is all about:

“Fierce Mind is about encouraging individuals and teams to take on extreme challenges for a relevant cause in order to raise awareness of a charity or condition, for them to recover from trauma, injury or illness, and to instill a passion and inspiration in others to help where they can.

It signifies true grit and determination, power and strength, taking decisive action and having balls of fire. It also resonates with never giving up, never allowing anyone to suppress your spirit, or to ridicule your dreams.

Fierce Mind represents a force of character that comes deep from within, a strong desire to discover more from life after life has knocked you down, to push ones boundaries and comfort zones, to devote a strong link to existence, and to recognise the greatness that we all have within us.”

 For some, a marathon is enough to push themselves, why take on something that has never been done before?

“This run is a pilgrimage. I have lost my way over the past few years after several breakdowns and I am at risk of retreating into the shell of a crushed soul. Some part of me is clinging to life with so much gusto and courage that I have to give it a chance to see what it can do. This is that chance. Doing something that has never been done before, something that is beyond my imagination, and something that can benefit others dramatically, while hopefully helping me to find my sense of self once more, is a powerful reason to cling to life with.”

Alongside her personal reasons, Yvie will be raising funds for Bipolar UK, Mind, Scottish Association for Mental Health, Young Minds and Place2Be during the process. This is fundamentally because peer support has been the greatest benefit for Yvie and her family: “whilst my doctors talk medicine, medicine does not cure anguish, only empathy, understanding, discussion, psychotherapy and self-belief can help with that. This is where Bipolar UK and other mental health charities come in. I feel connected to a tribe, and I am ready to fight for that tribe. Fight stigma. Fight bias. Fight secrecy. I am doing this challenge for all those who cannot fight for themselves. I will be running with a fierce mind.”

Yvie’s mantra throughout this challenge is “May my heart be kind, my mind fierce, and my spirit brave.”

Fierce Mind {Running} is a 42-day running challenge covering approximately 1680 miles — twice the distance of the length of Great Britain.

Yvie is challenging each of you who has had to overcome being broken or suffered a set back to take on your own Fierce Mind challenge by getting actively involved between April 2nd and May 13th with her via the Fierce Mind and You VS the Year challenges on Endomondo.

You can donate to her challenge to support the work of the five national mental health charities that are a part of the backbone of our nation’s mental health and emotional well being. Just click on this Virgin Money Giving link to donate, or read more about the charities involved on Yvie’s website.

You can keep a track of Yvie’s training stats here:

You can also follow her PhotoJournal blogging via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! Be sure to check in and say hello.

Thank you, Yvie, for your fierce mind, indomitable will, and inspiring story.

The Endomondo Team

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