Raising Money for The 401 Foundation

Raising Money for The 401 Foundation

Out Comes the Begging Bowl

The except following comes from my fundraising page for The 401 Foundation: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-scullion-run-bipolar . Please donate if you can.

I have started crying a number of times whilst typing this. They are more tears of relief than of sadness or happiness.

In the early hours of Sunday, November 7th last year, I curled up in a ball on the pull-out bed in my young son’s room and cried myself to sleep. The evening before my head had gone into a uncontrollable spin, and by the wee hours of the morning I was left in a desperate state thinking I was an absolute %*!$. 

Going to sleep beside my young son was the safest thing I could do. I felt very vulnerable and at the time and this seemed the safest place in the world. I felt too crap about myself to climb into bed beside my wife.

When I woke up I went straight to my wife to tell her something was wrong. I knew when my head went west that I had to talk about it immediately, otherwise the spin would go out of control and the unavoidable crash would be much more severe. As Bob Hoskins used to say – It’s good to talk.

Almost 20 years apart I had two close male friends who unfortunately took their own lives, so I understand what can happen when something ‘is wrong’ and you do not bear your soul in order to get well. I am 100% certain that I will never flick the switch that removes reasonable thought from the process of killing yourself, but I know now that I can end up in a very dark, depressed place for an extended period of time; and to put it mildly this is not nice. I miss and think of both these men regularly – they were both amazing human beings.

The devastation that suicide brings about on others that have been left behind is one of life’s greatest tragedies. It is something that no husband, wife, partner, friend, child or sibling should ever have to deal with. Mental health is something that needs to be brought to the fore.

I had experienced mental health issues before, but not significantly – or at least knowingly – for around 10 years; but the beast was back to try and screw up my life last November. I am, however, the most stubborn bastard in the world so I was going to win. I will always win.

For some time I knew deep down that I suffered from some sort of mental health condition, having previously been hospitalised in 2007 for over a month after a big ‘episode’. Just as tellingly, if you asked anyone who had known me for some time if they were surprised that I was wired up wrong, no one would be caught off-guard: “Scully? No, never – you’re kidding me. He’s the poster boy for normal!” is not something you’d be likely to hear.

I had not seen this big crash coming, although my wife had. She had seen a change in me over about a four month period as my behaviour became more and more uncharacteristic and upsetting. All I had noticed was that I was slightly more energetic.

I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist as soon as possible so I could arrange for some treatment. I am fortunate to have the resources to do this and work for a company that is ahead of the curve in allowing people time to deal with mental health. Many people are not so fortunate. 

Historically, I had been labelled as “susceptible to depression and anxiety” so I was expecting a similar diagnosis to be treated with antidepressants and some therapy; then the weirdest hour of my life happened. Forget Derren Brown, if you want to be freaked out go and see a top notch head doctor. I sat down in the consulting room with my amazing psychiatrist and she proceeded to describe me to a tee without having met me before.

She then told me I was bipolar, which although it now makes a lot of sense, completely floored me at the time.

I decided almost immediately that I was not going to hide my diagnosis from anyone, and once I was a bit more settled and receiving treatment, I would happily discuss it at any time. I also decided at the time that I was going to own the condition and beat the crap out of it whenever I could. I’m not just using a sledgehammer to crack a nut (literally), I’ve got a 20lb hammer and it’s being swung by Tyson Fury. I had bottled things up before and I ended up in hospital. No chance this time.

I tell people before they ask me, I’m involved with the mental health pillar at work which raises awareness of mental health and helps to arrange for treatments (merkleinc.com – you are amazing) and I have been writing a blog as a cathartic process (although not updated for a while due to the holiday season and being busy).

I am recovering now and am building a new way of living life with a mental health condition. I have to take medication every day, and as I write this I am sitting on the couch feeling unsteady, shaky, nauseous and with a blinding headache as I start a new medication called lamotrigine.

Outside of medication and talking to people, the other thing I have been doing as part of my recovery is getting fit. Because Quetiapine (the other medication I am taking) has a sedative effect this was impossible to start with, but by March I was capable of some exercise and to help me on my way I got a personal trainer.

Being me and not doing things by halves, I have entered nine races including one duathlon and one marathon with the objective of raising money towards mental health awareness and treatment.

I have completed four 10k races and one half duathlon in preparation, but now have the challenge of completing the Bristol Half Marathon, the Virtual London Marathon, the Oxford Half Marathon and the Marlow Half Marathon over a six week period from the end of September to the start of November to raise money for The 401 Foundation (https://www.the401foundation.co.uk/).   

To give you some background, I ran behind a chap called Ben Smith in the 2016 Brighton Marathon. I had no idea of who he was at the time, but looked him up afterwards as quite a few people were cheering him on. Turned out Ben was a total legend in the running world.

I hadn’t trained well for the race so he left me for dust, but I have followed his achievements online ever since. Most notably the 401 Challenge, where he ran ran 401 marathons in 401 days, raising in excess of £330,000 for two anti-bullying charities.

From this challenge was formed the 401 Foundation who are currently raising money to help develop a Wellness App which will assist people in finding mental health help in the local areas they are in. They have a greater 10 year plan to develop a Wellness Network and Wellness Hubs in local communities (https://www.the401foundation.co.uk/vision)

My challenge is only a speck of dust compared with Ben’s achievements, but to me it is a big deal as between 2017 and 2022 I did not run due to two knee operations and arthritis in many of my joints. Then one day earlier this year just like Forrest Gump, I decided to go for a little run and my head has been getting better ever since. Seriously, if you ever want to feel better go for a run – it only takes 500 yards and you’ll start to feel better, unless you fall over. That can hurt.

The date of the last event – the Marlow Half – is particularly poignant as it will be 365 days since my hypomanic episode that led me to have the most unusual of years. I aim to wake up on 7th November this year with a new found love of life, but most likely aching all over!

I know times are tough for everyone right now, but if you could spare some change to help me raise some money it would be very, very much appreciated.

In case you’ve forgotten the link it is:https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-scullion-run-bipolar

Paul x


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