London Marathon

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Yes the look on my face is very fitting to how I felt at that very moment… a feeling of pain and sheer exhaustion as I reached my furthest distance at that time, 17.1 miles to be exact!

As I stepped in my door at mile 17.1 I tried hard to choose from the following options: Cry, Fall to the floor or Cry and Fall to the floor. Thankfully the tears came followed by elation…. though the elation was enjoyed an hour later after the nauseousness disappeared!! So why am I doing this exactly I asked myself???!!

I have been working in mental health services for the past 11 years as a social worker, starting as a support worker post qualification to gain the foundation and understanding of mental ill health for my own growth and knowledge before moving into post a year and a half later. In 2014, I took the plunge and qualified as an AMHP (Approved Mental Health Professional). Within this time I have seen many sides to mental ill health, both the debilitating illnesses themselves and the negative reactions from society due to a lack of knowledge; which can be the most debilitating part of living with mental ill health leading to further isolation and segregation.

Therefore, when the opportunity came up to run in the London Marathon for HALE I immediately put my name forward, having a tremendous passion and belief in the work we do; both the education and support we can provide to increase a person’s independence and belief in themselves.

Though I have to admit some of it was for my own personal reasons; having turned 40 I went into panic mode deciding the only way to get through it was to do some of those things I had dreamt of but never achieved or even attempted. What I did not think through was the fact I had only just reached 3 miles in my retraining following an injury two years previously, so when my name was pulled out the envelope of 5 other nominees I was both thrilled and daunted for what was to come! And then the training and pitfalls began…..The training was extremely intense, initially getting up at 5am to get in the miles before an 8 hour working day, which later moved to a long run on Sunday morning due to the hours required. Running through rain, snow, icy paths to humid sunshine and physical pain to reach the fitness and mind set that I could achieve the 26.2 miles on the day I went through many challenges both physically and psychologically.  I never thought I’d be training for a marathon but thought here is to the beginning of my 40’s!

And then the BIG DAY arrived and there I was standing in my ‘pen’ waiting to be released into the Marathon extraordinaire! With injuries from my first fall ever just the week before leaving me with swollen knees I stood there with nerves/excitement in my stomach and non-stop chatting to the young girl beside me! The run itself was truly the most challenging but exhilarating experience ever!!! The physical exhaustion was like nothing I have ever felt before and the energy from the wee banana I ate two hours prior to the run was soon gone BUT the atmosphere was overwhelmingly amazing!!!! People where along the whole stretch of the route cheering and offering words and songs of encouragement which, at the time of my hitting that wall, were socked up to see me through. I had moments of tears due to my own emotional experience and the emotions picked up from others alongside many moments of pure delight to be part of such a unique event were I could literally feel myself smiling. This sure is a moment in my life I shall never forget…….and three days later following a quick recovery I decided to put myself in for it again Oh My!!!!

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Arriving at the finishing line I saw my family and friends there waiting and cheering me on. The best feeling ever.

HALE has at least 13 projects running with the University of Gondar. The Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Project are made up of 5 projects;

  1. Community Based Rehabilitation - MH awareness and promotion/ Consolidating and expanding previous training
  2. Community Outreach Programme from psychiatric ward hub - Includes service provision, consultation, training and MH promotion and evaluation
  3. Community Links- Working with Gondar Hospital staff to develop links with local NGOs already providing services to people with MH services such as faith groups and voluntary organisations
  4. Training and Capacity Building in Gondar based psychiatric staff - Respond to request for wider Management of Aggression Training through Ethiopia
  5. Rehabilitation and Occupational Day Service Programme - Continue to look for opportunities for unoccupied hospital buildings to be refurbished and provide the above services

All donations would be truly appreciated Google me on: Virgin Just Giving Robyne McCarthy

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