Marathon effort in support of Action Mental Health follows brave steps to recovery
25 January 2019
Robert Campbell’s story epitomises that ‘behind the mask’ feeling experienced by many people who struggle with their mental health. Like many in his shoes, he hid his feelings of anxiety and depression behind a smile – when smiling was the last thing he felt like doing.
And it’s for that reason that he has chosen to run the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon for Action Mental Health with its aptly coined mantra, #Behindthemilesandsmiles. Robert has seen how physical activity – with its proven benefits to mental health – has lifted him from the depths of despair and he wants his efforts to benefit a charity dedicated to improving the mental health of Northern Ireland.
Robert said it all started after life dealt him a ‘curveball’ and his marriage broke down. There began a spiral into anxiety and subsequently depression. His fragile mental health even had him considering suicide.
“I found myself in a very scary, dark, dangerous and lonely place, mentally. A very hard and tough subject to tell anyone about, but on a few occasions I considered taking my own life.
“Most days I woke up I just didn’t want to be around anymore. To me, my world had fallen apart
and most of the time I had to pretend that the smile on my face was real.
“But deep down I was struggling mentally, emotionally, I felt alone and just felt like I was standing still while the world just kept turning.”
“I couldn’t get myself out of this frame of mind for quite some time, but when you let something like this get a hold of you, sometimes it can turn out to be too late.”
When the stress got the better of him he even underwent heart tests in hospital, all the while being all too aware of the anguish his mental health was causing his parents, family and his friends.
“I knew it was time I had to find a little fight from somewhere to get back to who I used to be.”
Describing his parents as his ‘rock’, Robert also praises his elder sister who kept a vigil at his hospital bedside when he sought treatment for panic attacks. Friends and work colleagues have also been a support network throughout his difficult journey which he couldn’t have done without.
“Words just can’t describe how grateful I am to them all for bringing me back to half the person I used to be, when, at the time, I was closer to not being here anymore.”
And as every dog lover knows, man’s best friend was aptly named – his pooch Penny has been a constant companion and supportive lifeline.
Considering the old adage, ‘time is a great healer’ he decided to renew his former love of football. With the encouragement of team mates in ‘The Villagers’, emanating from his home town of Articlave and nearby Castlerock, he has begun to be enriched with a new zest for life, training for a while before debuting in a match recently.
“The buzz I felt after that game was great. I was great, feeling something that I hadn’t had in quite some time.
“I want to say thank you to each and every one of them for the craic we have as a team – it’s a great pick-me-up.”
Adding jogging to his list of physical activities, Robert says not only does it help relieve stress it has also led to his decision to tackle the 26.2 miles of the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon.
“Buzzing is an understatement for me. It’s a personal goal, as I will be doing the full 26 miles and I plan to smash it.
“With everyone’s help I would love to meet my target or even better, smash it; to show my support to Action Mental Health who are there for people like myself, and who are struggling with life.”
And he is encouraging others to join him on his marathon effort this May by signing up to run for Action Mental Health.
Robert would also encourage anyone experiencing mental ill-health to confide and share their story with a trusted family member or friend.
“Never try to do things on your own. I did and the hardest but bravest thing I did was to open up and talk about how I felt. Don’t suffer in silence folks.”
If you know someone who is in crisis or distress you can contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.
To support Robert’s fundraising campaign visit https://tinyurl.com/y8sdh8l2 or you can support #BehindTheMilesandSmiles for Action Mental Health by selecting them when registering for the 2019 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon. Already signed up and would like to start fundraising for them? Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 9182 8494 for more information.
Entries are NOW OPEN at www.belfastcitymarathon.com via the MyTicket App. The current entry rate will apply until 28th February 2019 with a final entry deadline on 12th April 2019.