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Tom: Mental Health Runner

In this episode, Ciara sits down to have an open, honest and raw conversation with Tom from the UK. The podcast dives into the topic of loss, grief, and overcoming the obstacles that come with mental illnesses.

Tom is a mental health runner, author, international public speaker, and mechanical engineer. He is also a member of the Brooks Run Happy team in the UK. 

What was his life like before he started running?

Before running, Tom was in a very dark place in life. He was physically, emotionally, and mentally unwell. 

“From the ages of four to fourteen, I was bullied and beaten up every day.”

Tom experienced a great deal of trauma during his younger years, which negatively impacted his outlook on life. Those around him mistreated Tom, and he suffered significant losses, which brought him down. Tom was very unhappy with life, did not see a bright side, and only thought about taking his own life. There was no hope for any betterment in his eyes, but then he began running. Running changed his life drastically and provided him with an outlet for his feelings. 

What made him become a runner

Tom used to be severely overweight and weighed over 300 pounds during his youth. Due to his physical weight and appearance, he experienced severe bullying in his school. Tom also suffered the tragic loss of his brother, who played a significant and supportive role in his life, which made things even worse for him and his mental health. These events caused Tom to develop severe psychosis and depression. When his brother passed away, Tom ignored his grief and started his apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer. But once the time passed and graduation came close, all of his bottled-up feelings sprung back up to haunt him. It made him develop borderline PTSD and social anxiety as he felt incredibly alone and depressed. Tom began running to cope with these feelings and gain control of himself. He chose this activity as a medium to feel better, and eventually, it worked out for him.

It makes me feel balanced, I feel healthier and running gives me a positive outlook on life which is the polar opposite of where I was back then in life.

Running is highly beneficial, and it helped Tom gain control of his life and emotions as well.

Who did he meet and realize he had greater things in life?

During his running journey, Tom met many other people as well. One of them was David, a mechanical engineer who had worked on the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Tom realized that if this person can have mental health struggles and continue to thrive in his career, why can’t he? The realization of his abilities dawned upon him, and he started to notice the other things he could be grateful for in life. Meeting David considerably changed his perspective and helped him grow personally and professionally. 

How did running change his perspective and help him cope?

According to Tom, running transformed his life and helped him gain perspective on many things. It allowed him to be present and do what he enjoyed. When Tom began running with other people, he felt a sense of belonging to the running community, which helped him discover his purpose in life. He was always keen on trying something different in life, and with running, he became more open towards exploring new things and taking care of his fitness. The activity also helped him cope with his mental health problems and learn to take care of himself. 

For a detailed podcast on the topic, make sure to subscribe to us at Apple Music and Spotify @RunThriveSurvive by Ciara Carter. I offer coaching services too and you can reach out to me at runthrivesurvive.com or patrion.com/runthrivesurvive

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