This page mentions suicide or suicidal thoughts. Please read with care. 

Chris is a long-term supporter, currently training for the Edinburgh Marathon in aid of Health in Mind, after having used our services. 

I’ve run all over the country raising money for Health in Mind the last few years, and I’ll be taking on the Edinburgh Marathon this summer. Supporting Health in Mind isn’t just a random choice – the work they do has helped me a lot, and I want to help more people have access to that. There’s been times I’ve been in a really bad place, and I’m in a much better place now so I want to help. 

I’ve had depression since I was a teenager, and I was in a really bad headspace a few years ago. When you’re suicidal like I was, you don’t know what’s going to happen. If you wait too long you might just go.  

I needed help, so I googled “places to talk” and Health in Mind came up. I saw about their Anxiety & Depression support groups, and I thought oh, that might be something. 

I went along to the Edinburgh group with my mum. I thought it would be like an info session, but instead it was just this space to talk and listen to each other’s experiences. It’s good because you’re in control, but you’re also not responsible for making it happen. You’re free to choose – you don’t have to speak but you can if you want, and you can either ask people to respond or not. 

Hearing other people talk really helped me. There were lots of people there who were going through things people might deem ‘worse’ than what I was dealing with, but I didn’t leave feeling like ‘oh, I shouldn’t be here.’ Every single bit of info someone gives can be helpful, even when their experience is totally different to yours. It’s not just knowing that other people are going through it too, it’s also hearing about what they’re doing that helps that I could maybe try too. 

It isn’t just me it helped. I went along sometimes with my friends who weren’t having the same kind of struggles with their mental health, but they still benefitted. When we were coming out of a group, my friend said to me, ‘That was so eye-opening in figuring out how your brain works.’ People don’t always understand mental health struggles – getting out and talking about it makes a huge difference. 

I don’t think I’ll ever stop having suicidal thoughts. But what’s changed is that with time and with the support I had at the group, I’ve been able to build up coping strategies and support systems. 

One of those things is running. It helps me get out of my head and break those suicidal thought patterns. I know that won’t always be available to me – I could get injured or sick – so I make sure I’ve got different routes to get myself through those moments. 

Man running the EMF - Edinburgh Marathon Festival

When it’s something like depression, it’s not about willpower. You can’t just try not being depressed and bang, you’re cured. You have to get the space to learn how to get through it. People often talk about suicidal thinking as being selfish – ‘how could you do that to the people who love you’ – but why is it about what’s going to be beneficial for them, not for me? Why should I want to live for other people? You have to learn to want to live for yourself. 

My brother’s had a baby and it really scared me, because I don’t want to disappear out of my nephew’s life. That’s the thing – however much you want to die, you’ve got to ride the wave because things happen that you want to live for. 

Saying ‘I’m suicidal’ – saying the scary stuff we’re not really encouraged to talk about – means we can do something about it. Often when I mention having suicidal thoughts, people freak out, but just because I’m thinking about it doesn’t mean I’m going to do it. Like my counsellor says, ‘A thought’s just a thought until you act on it.’ Because I can talk to people before things get too bad, now my friends can help me out and go, ‘well, Chris isn’t at crisis point just now, so let’s figure out together what we do if things get bad.’ 

There’s a lot of shame attached to saying how you’re really feeling. People treat it like weakness to talk about feeling low, but it’s beneficial to tell the truth. I’m not weak for having attempted suicide – I’m proud of myself for coming through that part of my life. I still get suicidal thoughts, but through the Health in Mind group and my own learning I’ve got a better understanding of where that comes from, and that means I can learn to cope better over time. 

My vision is that everyone can have access to the kind of space and support I got back then. The more groups there are like this, and the more facilitators and volunteers, the easier it is for someone who’s in a bad place, like I was, to find one and drop in.  

That’s why I run for Health in Mind, so that there can be more accessible support for people when they need it.