Our supporter, Gemma, shares her story of taking on this year’s Tough Mudder in aid of SAMH and what it means to have family and friends cheering you on.
“I can’t move. I don’t see any way out of this. I’m going to be stuck like this forever.”
These are the thoughts that were in my head when I was paralysed with fear at the top of a 10 foot high wooden wall on the Tough Mudder Scotland course last month.
I’d had those thoughts before. They rang around my head like a jingle from a radio advert from years ago. I’d never been stuck at the top of a 10 ft wooden wall before, but those were the exact same thoughts I’d had so many times when stuck in the depths of depression.
I decided to take part in Tough Mudder this year to help raise funds for SAMH. Having spent most of my teenage years dealing with depression, anxiety and self harm- SAMH is a charity close to my heart.
A few years ago I’d considered myself ‘recovered’ from mental illness because I hadn’t needed medication for my depression for a while and generally felt happier than I ever had. However, after being diagnosed with a chronic illness which has been hard to deal with over the past year or so, I’ve found looking after my mental health a struggle again at times.
I’m not sure what I think about ‘recovery’ or what it even means any more but what I do know is that life will throw you a series of obstacles. There will be times when you’re trudging through mud with a stitch in your side, times when it feels like you’ve been plunged into ice cold water and even times when it feels like you are stuck at the top of a 10 ft wall with no way down.
You might wonder how I got down from that wall? It would have been impossible without my teammates. First they had to convince me that I’d be okay, they pointed out that I couldn’t stay up there forever, and of course they helped me down. As my foot landed
on a shoulder and someone else grabbed my waist to make sure I didn’t fall on my way down – relief washed over me and I knew I’d felt like this before too. I’d been helped through my roughest times by family and friends when I needed them most.
One of the obstacles at Tough Mudder was Everest. A very high, sloped and slippy wall you must try and make it to the top of. When I went to take my first run at it there was my sister, my brother in law, my boyfriend and my other teammates all cheering me on and shouting encouragement. When I’ve been struggling in the past, those same people have been there to support me, to cheer me on.Tough Mudder started as a physical challenge but by the end I’d realised how much the obstacles, and how you can overcome them, were pretty much a metaphor for life.
It’s pretty difficult to get to the top of Everest without any help. There were volunteers and other participants at the top hanging down to try and pull me over those last few feet of the obstacle. I always try to remember that no matter how hard things are and how alone you feel, there are always people around who will reach out an arm to help you up.
I took part in the Great Scottish Run 10k last year. Because of my health I hadn’t been able to train much and was really struggling at one point on the course. I’d had to stop and walk, but as I did I felt a hand on my shoulder. A fellow runner in a SAMH top ran beside me and said “Keep going, you can do this. Just remember the reasons why you’re doing this” and with that he was gone, running off again. It might not have felt like much to him. But I was able to finish that run because of his words.
You don’t have to be super fit to complete a run or an obstacle course. You don’t need to worry about how long it will take you – do it in your own time and in your own way. You don’t need a team – people will always lend a helping hand. All you need is the desire to do it, whatever your reasons. Raising money and awareness is great, those SAMH tops have sparked up a thousand conversations, I’m sure of it. But start your fundraising journey and you’ll learn a lot along the way too.