Black & White – Mental Health

Those who follow me on Instagram will have seen a series of black and white images over the past couple of months.

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My Story – Part 1 – Cause . So I said I’d start sharing more about my story, well more about mental health really. I thought about arty photos to aid projecting emotions, metaphors & similes, but at this exact moment in time, sod it, this will do for now . For the eagle eyed, yes, there will be several more parts (currently looking like double digits) . So, anyway….. . My life is not bad, far from it. I work in cycling, write & shoot trail running, enjoy freedom & most of the time (now) feel pretty good about life . Going back 20+ years, my parents divorced when I was 5ish. Of course at the time this was devastating & for 11 years, outside of holidays, I’d see my dad for 4 days a month . Now my mum wasn’t the gentlest of folk & my father hoped that in leaving this would calm her down. Well, it didn’t. I was routinely beaten right up until I decided to leave home & move 200 miles north to live with my dad at 16 (I’ll spare you the specifics but safe to say, she was handy with her fists, feet, legs & the psychological art of war) . I was marked. If I fought back, the assault would intensify. I was held once by the police due to marks. I had social services, multiple custody battles in court. I lived in my bedroom & flinched at the slightest noise. From the outside, my life was chaos . But the funny thing is, it was the opposite. It was all I knew. I went to school, had a near enough squeaky clean record, did ok & got on with life. As far as I was concerned, this was the norm and I had a very normal routine. I was in cubs, scouts, cadets, football & then rugby teams . It was only when I moved north & my life was the total opposite at home, I began to question it & the effects it had had on me. Once again I kept to myself outside of college, which gave me a lot of time to think, explore & discover . It was about this time I found road cycling & running. I was training for Officer selection for the Royal Marines, but in hindsight, I was self medicating . Part 2 – Effect – soon . #trailrunning #mystory #mentalhealth #anxiety #depression #ptsd #lessonslearned #teampyllon #whyirun #stancerun

A post shared by James MacKEDDIE (@jamesmackeddie) on

Mental Health is a subject close to my heart and at the forefront of my mind. As the series of posts explains, my childhood wasn’t the happiest of places and in my late teenage years I came to question all that had happened. More over, I used my experiences to learn about myself and the area which gave me the greatest feedback was sport.

I’ve suffered and continue to live with depression, anxiety and have gone through a period of PTSD.

I’ve always played sports, but endurance disciplines allow me to switch off from the chaos and be myself. Life lessons taught me that you can push further and deeper then appears possible at face value, that the mind can overcome and adapt any challenge put before it, that there is a community of like minded folk willing to aid you at every corner.

It is often said those drawn to the trails and particularly ultras have something in their past and psyche, that may be from pain, torment, a dark place or an area that they struggle to some degree to explain.

For those that do, they aren’t running away from the issue, moreover, they are tackling it head on, finding a community to support them and a way of giving their minds the time it needs to unconsciously repair and discover.

Thankfully, mental health is an area of people’s lives which is loosing it’s associated taboo, however gradual, allowing many to engage in conversation for the first time and to realise they aren’t alone.

Outside of receiving counselling, I’ve sat on Home Office Advisory Boards, spoken to MPs, given anonymous news interviews on national television and radio and volunteered for a charity. I’m not alone in my actions and have met incredible people doing similar things.

If you’d like to find out more about my story and the lessons I learnt through endurance sports, particularly trail running, keep an eye out for the black and white posts on my Instagram page (you’ll have to scroll through pst posts) and if you’d like to talk, DM me, comment on the posts or email jamesmackeddie@live.co.uk.

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