After attempting suicide in 2015 Mark is on the road to recovery at the Derby Half Marathon and keen to raise awareness about mental health issues.
Brave Mark Dean, 23, is on a mission at the Asda Foundation Derby Half Marathon raise awareness about mental health and eating disorders. He hopes to ensure that young people speak up about these issues – especially men.
From the age of 18, Mark has struggled with depression and anxiety. In 2013 he was discharged from Aston University for being mentally unstable.
Bouncing back in 2014, Mark found that running helped him cope with his mental health. In the very same year he was able to complete two half marathons, the Liverpool Marathon and return to Aston University.
Unfortunately, in March 2015, Mark was struck with a horrible injury to his tibia which left him bed-bound for 13 months. This had an significant effect on his mental health.
Speaking to Run For All, Mark said: “In March 2015 I fractured my tibia. It left me bed-bound for 13 months. I couldn’t exercise or get out to see my friends. I basically did nothing because I saw no reason to do anything – even eat.
“I lost lots of weight and eventually anorexia became another mental issue I was forced to battle.
“I almost halved in weight and eventually got down to weighing as little as 48kg – that’s seven and a half stone.”
Mark’s mental health was spiraling out of control. The frustration Mark must have experienced whilst bed-bound for 13 months is incomprehensible. With him already vulnerable to mental health issues, it became incredibly difficult for Mark.
Eventually, it was all too much. Mark wrote a suicide letter to his dad and as a ‘cry for help’ attempted to take his own life with painkillers in November 2015.
“It wasn’t attention seeking, I just didn’t see an alternative.
“Only someone who is or has struggled with mental health issues can truly understand.
“It is so important that I show everyone suffering with mental health issues in the UK that I understand and that is okay to talk about it – you don’t have to suffer in silence.”
Mark has now recovered both mentally and physically from his injury. In June 2017, he became a qualified personal trainer and he is currently studying Exercise, Health and Nutrition at Nottingham Trent University.
“It’s not about getting six packs or ripped, I want to get people mentally fit with exercise.
“There are so many mental benefits to running. For me, it clears my mind and keeps me relaxed.
“I have found being active has improved my mental health far more than any medication.”
Mark wants to share his experiences to help raise awareness about mental health issues. He has found the most productive way to do so has been running and raising money at various events across the UK – often dressed in bright, unmissable fancy dress.
“The fancy dress helps me be noticed, people are more likely to stop and think ‘why is this guy running?’.
“It really helps me raise awareness about mental health issues and share my story - we need to get rid of this stigma that surrounds talking about mental health.”
On Sunday 3rd June, Mark will be raising money for two amazing causes: Beat UK and Young Minds. Beat UK is the UK's leading charity supporting anyone affected by eating disorders or any other difficulties with food, weight and shape. Young Minds is equally important and aims to ensure that young minds across the UK are supported and empowered, whatever their challenges.
If you would like to read more about Mark’s story, please visit mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/mindmeetsfitness
You can also find out more about Mark’s story by following his Instagram @mindmeetsfitness
If you are tempted to feel good running and want to find out more, please click Asda Foundation Derby Half Marathon.