Running with a purpose in mind.
Despite having anxiety attacks, Daniel runs.
He runs to look after himself physically and mentally. And he runs to fundraise for SAMH.
Running nourishes him with an enormous sense of satisfaction, achievement and as he readily acknowledges, improves his mental wellbeing.
On a daily basis Daniel juggles a busy work schedule. He loves his job and happily puts the hours in at the office of a Member of Parliament. He also has a happy personal life, living in Edinburgh with his partner of a year-and-a-half. But running is his thing.
We live in a gendered world where boys are told to be men and that boys don't cry, and that kind of attitude is killing young men.
During his time at University Daniel endured frequent bouts of anxiety. So frequent, he regularly found himself crying for no reason, experiencing frightening, suicidal thoughts. The signs were there from an early stage.
"On some level, I have always known that I have suffered from anxiety. My parents always told me that I would worry if I didn't have something to worry about."
"But that first became a mental health problem when I was studying abroad. One evening, I started to feel dizzy and my heart began to race. I was convinced I was going to die. My flatmate took me to hospital and they told me that I had had an anxiety attack. I remained unconvinced and was sure that there was something that the doctors had missed."
The doctor’s were right.
Although Daniel was initially given medication to help quell the anxiety attacks themselves, this only acted as a sticking plaster. The anxiety attacks he experienced became more frequent and eventually coupled themselves with depression.
One morning, as he was going to university, he wondered what would happen if he jumped in front of the underground train. That’s when he recognised his need for support. That was when he decided to use the university's counselling service. And that’s when he started Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on a weekly basis. Coupled with medication, it provided an extremely effective way of managing the difficulties he was experiencing.
Daniel was also grateful for the support throughout his illness from friends and family. His father read up on the subject to be better informed. Although he found it difficult to talk about what was happening, they continually encouraged him to be open. Such support made a big difference.
"If I had earlier access to the psychological services I eventually accessed through my university, then the frequent anxiety attacks I experienced might not have become depression. My mental health would have been much better looked after and I am sure I would have been able to cope a lot better."
"We live in a gendered world where boys are told to be men and that boys don't cry, and that kind of attitude is killing young men when they should be seeking support for mental health problems they experience. Men shouldn’t cry. Feelings should be kept within. I once read that not talking about mental health difficulties is contributing to making suicide the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. This shocked me."
If I had earlier access to the psychological services I eventually accessed through my university, then the frequent anxiety attacks I experienced might not have become depression. My mental health would have been much better looked after and I am sure I would have been able to cope a lot better.
"Every conversation that can be had about mental health chips away at the stigma surrounding it, and something as simple as a conversation could save someone's life."
To help make those conversations happen Daniel decided to run for SAMH, completing the Edinburgh Marathon run on more than one occasion.
He does so because he received help to enable him to cope with the periods of anxiety and depression. He wants to give something back and help others.
"I know that having access to good mental health treatment is vital, and I don't want anyone to go without the treatment or support that they need."