A WORTHING woman who completed a 60 mile run from London to Brighton to raise money for mental health charity Mind says running saved her life.
Shelley Kyte, 34, of Browning Road, Worthing, started the challenge, in which 2,500 people took part, at Richmond Park, at 6.20am on May 24, and finished at 10.20pm at Brighton Race Course.
Miss Kyte, a training manager, started running as a form of escapism in 2010 after battling anorexia and mental health issues.
She said: “I have found that running gives me a sense of freedom and I do it as regularly as possible.
“I have suffered from eating disorders since I was 14 and this then turned to severe depression, self-hatred and self-harming, but in 2011 I started running and it saved my life. I felt like I was free from my thoughts because every mile I ran I felt like I was running away from my problems.
“I suffered severe panic attacks and the worry of running away from home with no way home freaked me out, but then one day I ran to Cissbury Ring.
“I ran out of my comfort zone and I was still safe, still standing. This is the day I realised that I am stronger than I think.
“My mum, Michaela, has also suffered with mental health issues over the years and Mind really helped me last year. When my mum had her second nervous breakdown, it broke my heart.
“My mum is my best friend and my rock and I felt helpless that I could not make her better. She was self-harming and on the verge of suicide and I was scared. I contacted Mind, I read support pages, coping mechanisms and other avenues to help her and without them I wouldn’t have known what to do or say.
“I decided then that I wanted to do something to help the charity as they offered me a great deal of advice to help me when Mum was at her worst.
“Although she is slowly getting back on her feet now. Mum has been ill since I was 16. I can remember saying to her that if she could do something each day that she had not been able to do the day before then she was making progress.
“The truth, though, is that mental illness is still taboo.”
Shelley described being in London prior to the run as ‘daunting’, adding: “I was completely stripped of all my security and surprised myself because when I arrived I actually did not think I could do it but out of the 703 women that took part I came 17th.
“Lots of people did not know my story before this and it has been quite overwhelming both how generous people are and the kind things they have said to me, including some who have called me an inspiration.
“It makes one moment of pain so worthwhile in return for a lifetime of pride.”
Shelley was greeted by her mother at the 56km point in the challenge.
She recalled: “Mum still has panic attacks and does not go far from home so to see her cheering me on was very emotional as I was completely taken aback.
“It was such a feat for her to get there and if it was not for her then I would not have been there pushing myself in that way.
“Mind does such a good job and does not seem to get a lot of support which is why I wanted to raise money.”