Overweight and suicidal to an African marathon: How a Littlehampton man pulled himself back from the brink
A Littlehampton man has credited running and his faith in God with pulling him from the brink of suicide.
In August, 28-year-old Danny Wigley weighed 17 stone and was struggling with his mental health. Three months later he has lost almost three stone and is training for a marathon in Rwanda.
Now he wants to use his story of recovery to help other people with mental health issues, particularly in encouraging men to open up about their struggles.
“Life is really tricky with the pressure of being a man, being a husband, being a father,” said the husband and father of two.
“But it is okay to not be okay. The first sign of getting in the right direction is by letting yourself know that it’s okay not to be okay.”
Danny said he planned to commit suicide in 2016 and visited a church in Arun for what he thought was the final time.
While standing in front of the altar, he said he was approached by a woman who said ‘I feel like God wants me to tell you not to hurt yourself today’.
It was then, he said, that he knew he had to turn his life around.
Allied with his faith and the support of his family, Danny said the ‘positive stress’ of running gives him a focus and the incremental goals keep him moving forward.
“It makes my body work towards something,” he said.
“Beating a time and beating a personal best, always working towards goals. I thought I wasn’t good enough for this world, but now I am two minutes faster than I was last week and it keeps me going.”
He started running in August and has already completed two 10km races, a goal he said seemed unachievable earlier in the year.
The marathon in Rwanda is planned for June, with sponsorship money going towards Compassion UK – a charity which aims to help families in poverty around the world.
Danny said he chose the African location to push himself physically and mentally, especially given his fear of flying and the sun being his ‘worst enemy’.
He said the importance of the cause also gives him some perspective, reminding him how lucky he is to have a loving family, a home and his job as a chef.
The ultimate goal is to use his culinary experience, an environment known for being highly stressful, to help young men. He said: “The dream is to take boys coming out of school and have a positive kitchen with a stable job, in a positive environment and be something positive in their life.”