After years of struggling with depression, low self-esteem and alcohol addiction, Dean Smith has finally found a way of coping that really suits him – running.
Running has been key to his recovery from mental health problems; boosting his self-esteem, bringing some inner peace, and introducing him to a whole community of new friends.
Dean, who works for John Lewis in Leeds, is now a Mental Health Champion for his running club, the South Leeds Lakers. He did the Abbey Dash in 2017, then the Temple Newsam TNT in 2018, and went on to complete the London Marathon in 2019. He now runs every day, and recently trained to be a run leader.
“Running has been so good for my self-esteem and self-worth. Having lived with mental illness for so long I’m really lacking in those areas. Running gives me a sense of achievement I’ve struggled to find anywhere else.
“I also think it’s like a kind of meditation. Running gives me peace from those dark thoughts. It gives me some headspace and turns off the constant chatter in my brain.
“One thing I didn’t expect was to make so many friends through running. It’s not just about the exercise part of it, being in a club especially is really social. It’s a real community – we meet up and go out together outside of running as well. I really feel like I’m part of something, and I like to give back to others by being a Mental Health Champion too.”
Videographer: William Lankfer