A few years ago I was wasting my life away.

My story is quite common, I was a child of divorced parents. I grew up at a young age with my mum and my sister and when I was 5 my step dad came into my life and I will forever be grateful for the man he helped mould at that age, but I still wanted a relationship with my biological dad. Now, I might not be able to remember what I did 3 weeks ago, but I remember every time I sat in the gutter waiting for my dad to come and get me and he never came. As a kid I thought, if my own biological parent doesn’t care about me, who would?

And he had his own issues, but at the time all I knew was that he was one of the people who was meant to take care of me, and he didn’t.

As a teenager and in my early 20s I found alcohol and drugs. They felt like the warm hug I was waiting for, and it numbed the pain that was inside me. And that can make you popular with others who want to behave in the same way. You find acceptance and can even be celebrated as the guy who’s always up for a good time. That’s what you’re known for. And that feels good too, but eventually you realise how hollow those good feelings are.

I know what it’s like to be in that state where your mind is telling you that you’re not worth being here any more. One particularly bad night I needed to take myself to hospital otherwise I truly believed I was going to take my own life. When you’re suicidal, it’s the hardest thing in the world every day not to do it. It takes so much personal intervention and strength to stay alive when you don’t want to. And I am so proud of myself now for doing it.

Even after feeling like that and battling anxiety and depression for a long time, I still didn’t really believe in it; Which seems absurd that we invalidate our own experience like that.

Things finally turned around when my step dad took me to the doctor and I did the Kessler Psychological Distress questionnaire, and there was something about seeing it on paper that made it real.

Also, my relationship ended. I loved her so much more than I ever loved myself and I think I was leaning on her for my self-worth, which was never going to work. I was looking for someone to take care of me, but eventually I realised that I had to be the one that could heal myself. People wanted to help me, but I had to meet them at least halfway.

And at that point,I looked in the mirror and said, “You’re so much better than this and you want change but you’re doing nothing to facilitate that change, so what are you going to do?”

I started running at the end of 2021. In the beginning it involved lots of walking and lots of throwing up.

I was naïve enough to think that pushing myself to do a couple of 5kms runs might improve the garbage fire that was my life, but thank goodness I was, because it has.

The alone time I get from running is something which has changed my life. It’s strengthening my mind just as much as my body. I know that every step I am taking in the right direction is 2 steps away from the wrong direction.  

I’m working towards a pretty massive goal in 2024 –Fastest Known Time to run from Brisbane to Sydney, raising money for Heart On My Sleeve and to keep more people talking about mental health. But it’s not like, I need to get to this and then I’ll be happy. That’s not true about anything. There’s something that you can take out of every single day and life will always be about the journey not the destination.

I used to live in a reality that tormented me, now I can finally say that I am proud of the man I am.