Anna has set off on her running road to recovery after completing Sunday's Asda Foundation Leeds Half Marathon.
Running has helped mother of two, Anna Lynch, through some of the lowest moments in her life.
This Sunday she was able to complete 2018's Asda Foundation Leeds Half Marathon as part of her road to recovery.
Anna said: “I have had difficulties with mental health in the past and haven’t felt particularly well supported and then last year my husband of 18 years left me. I felt like my whole world had been tipped upside down.
“I started running as a way to have some focus to my day as I felt very isolated and was really struggling. I had no motivation, my social life was non-existent, I had nothing for me and I felt like I had no purpose in life.”
Last summer Anna joined a running group in Ilkley and set herself the target of running the Leeds 10K.
She said: “It wasn’t long before the lady who runs the group, Emma Draper, said I should have signed up for a half marathon not a 10k. So I did it and here I am a proud owner of my first ever half marathon medal.
“I feel like running has helped my mental health massively. With the support of my running teacher, I started doing something for me. She has helped me to get out there when I would otherwise have sat on my sofa.
“My boss and his wife are both keen runners and they have recently taken me out running when I had a bad patch with my mental health. I couldn’t even get myself to work some days and I just didn’t see the point in anything.
“At my lowest point, when I was ready to give up, my boss and his wife took me out. It gave me the headspace I needed and it instantly made me feel slightly more able to cope. Things could have been very different if it wasn’t for running and the support from them. It was also something which I could do without it costing a fortune, as finances were and continue to be a worry for me.
“There is so much stigma around mental health and I think that people don’t fully understand how it effects someone, unless they have been through it themselves. It has an impact on everything you do in life.
“It is just as difficult for men as it is women. A friend of mine lost her husband last year and another friend lost her brother at the start of this year, both to mental health issues. It shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness when we ask for help.
“I cannot even begin to explain how much better running has made me feel. Just getting out there is an achievement some days but I always know I will feel better afterwards. It has also helped to tackle the issues I had surrounding eating and diet, it has made me eat the right things to make me strong.
“I still have a long way to go towards feeling happy and confident but I am hoping completing the Leeds Half Marathon has set me on my way to recovery and bigger dreams.”
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