Sam works for Coutts, who recently completed a charity challenge of completing the distance of the UK coastline to raise money for MQ and Place to Be, and raising over £100,000. Sam felt particularly connected to the cause due to her own experiences of mental illness.
I’ve always enjoyed taking part in charity events and doing my bit, however as soon as I heard that Coutts was supporting Mental Health charities MQ and Place2Be, I knew I had to take part as it’s very personal to me. I have always used exercise as a coping mechanism for my own struggles, and especially since COVID-19 my daily walk is a lifesaver and really helps me – so I decided I would keep walking and do 25K over the week. It went really well as I exceeded my target, ending up with 27.7K complete and it even included a walk over the Severn Bridge to Wales and back! (The bridge is much longer than it looks by the way)
Ever since I was a teenager I have struggled with various mental health issues, beginning with low self-confidence and stress - but it was never anything unmanageable, and I put it down to being a typical teenager struggling with that in-between stage between childhood and adulthood. As I got older it became more of a problem until I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I have always been someone who seeks help when I feel I need it – I’m not ashamed to say I’m struggling and I will ask for help – however, I understand that not everybody feels the same. Many people find it incredibly difficult to tell people how they are feeling. This can lead to devastating consequences, which we have experienced in our family, losing someone much too young.
I think of my anxiety like having 2 versions of myself trapped in my mind – I call them Jekyll & Hyde, but that’s just me being dramatic! One side of me is a worrier and always thinks of the worst-case scenario so I am prepared. The other half of me is rational and tells the other one to stop being so ridiculous. In 2017, I decided I had had enough of the anxious side of me and the other one took over – I learnt to drive and passed my test which I had put off due to fear, I flew all by myself to Spain despite the fact I hated flying, and I began living on my own even though half of my brain kept thinking ‘if you fall over and bang your head, nobody’s going to find you for ages!’
It’s a struggle to explain to someone how it feels to be at war with your own head. If somebody is cruel to you or spiteful, you can walk away and physically remove yourself from the situation, or block them on social media. If that voice is in your own head, you cannot get away from it. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve said to my family ‘I wish there was a switch in your brain that you could switch off, just for an hour, or just to be able to sleep’. However, there is help out there – I have received counselling and spoken to professionals and it helped me so much. I can manage it in my own way now with various coping mechanisms, including exercise, mindfulness activities and writing things down and I do feel that most days the rational part of my brain is dominant – I do get days where the anxious side is stronger. However, I think to myself ‘just get through this one day and tomorrow will be brighter.’
I think that raising funds for mental health charities like MQ is so important – not just for those who need help at the most desperate time in their life but also to raise awareness to others who may not understand. I think now more than ever, research into mental health is pivotal as this current situation will be taking its toll on everyone – even those who may not have previously suffered. In recent years, mental health is finally seen as just as important as physical health and charities like MQ are ensuring the highly important issues are front and centre of discussions and their research and the work they do could end up saving lives. Even though my part was small, I’m proud to have been a part of it and to help raise those vital, life-saving funds.
A huge thank you to everyone from Coutts who took part to raise money for Place 2 Be and MQ. You are all making such a positive difference to mental health.
A big thank you to Bradley Hill from Coutts, who spent a lot of time organising the fundraising activities. Bradley said:
"Over 600 people from Coutts completed their own challenges to try and collectively travel the distance around the UK coastline (17,819km). Between us, we covered over 37,000km which is almost the distance around the world and raised an incredible £104,000 – which was over double our target. Everyone did an amazing job and should be really proud of themselves for raising so much money for two brilliant charities. I took on a 100km walk myself, and when things got tough I just kept reminding myself why I was doing this walk and the importance of the funds and the awareness I was creating for mental health. That helped me keep going."
Last updated: 31 July 2020