Sean’s story

I’d been struggling with my mental health for about year then in March lockdown came and I was stuck in a total rut. I was withdrawing from my friends, always making up excuses but hoping they’d notice.

Things came to a head when I got in an argument with my mum. Finally, I opened up to my sister, I’d tried to tell her before but found it hard to bring it up randomly - it felt like it was never a good conversation to have. She encouraged me to see my GP and I started to find that the more I talked about it the better it was - I wish I’d done it earlier.

Getting outside during the first lockdown was hard, I was spending a lot of time in my room because it felt like a safe space, but my brother told me I had to keep getting out. That’s when I started hill walking with my friends.

We started going to places locally for walks, and I realised just how blind I had been to the beauty of Scotland. Before we started hill walking, the only other person my age that I’d talked to about my mental health was my partner. I’m able to be open to my friends while we’re out training, and they don’t treat me different or try to wrap me in cotton wool.

This summer we set ourselves the challenge of climbing a Munro to raise funds for SAMH, and we climbed Ben Lomond. It was more physically demanding than we had imagined, but it was just stunning up there and everyone else at the top was so supportive, especially when we asked them to take a picture of us with our SAMH banner, they asked all about our fundraising and why we were doing it, that felt great.

The winter weather means we can’t do any Munros at the moment, but that hasn’t stopped us. It doesn’t need to be a massive climb to feel good, so we’ve been going to places locally, like the Pentlands, to get some training in. We now also do indoor rock climbing twice a week, I didn’t even really realise that was a hobby before, and it’s such a nice crowd there, a real community.

I used to be naturally fit, but I was never in sport teams or anything. This year I’ve been able to really focus on getting active again. It’s been really good for my mental health. I’ve found it to be such a brilliant method of coping, even after a bad day exercise can make me feel really good.