Man running in London Landmarks Half Marathon
Parag Shah: Running for MovemberImage by: Movember
Man running in London Landmarks Half Marathon
9 August 2023

Parag’s story: Running for men everywhere 

4 minutes read time

Why I Mo 

Having experienced mental health issues myself, raising money for a men’s health charity has really given me a purpose.

I've been fundraising for Movember since 2014. From growing a Mo and spreading information about how to improve mental and physical health, to running 60 miles for the 60 lives unfortunately lost to suicide every hour in 2022. I also took part in the amazing London Landmarks Half Marathon.

I participate in Movember because I don’t want to see anyone go through mental and physical health problems. With men more likely to hide it when they’re struggling, the work that Movember funds is really important. Encouraging men be more active, express their thoughts and provide help and support is essential to lowering the rates of suicide and cancers across the world.

Being part of a large event, such as the London Landmarks Half Marathon for Movember, showed me the hard work and great support that Movember provide and I will always be grateful for this.

" If you notice something feels off in your body or mind, speak to someone about it. "

As well as this, the resources and information provided by Movember on their website really helped me dive into my issues and allowed me to become more open about them.

Finding the tools which helped me 

I’d struggled with levels of depression for many years, although I didn’t recognise that was what it was at the time. Depression really eats into your mind and body. It starts slowly and will grab a hold of you without you realising. Your habits will have changed - my diet and consumption of alcohol got a lot worse and I was constantly trying to escape behind TV and screens. Your motivation and energy levels change like the weather. You start to become more defensive and less open. Your mind only wants the short-term fun and wants to be constantly distracted as it doesn’t want you to think about your life anymore.

When you take a step back, you realise you are not the person who you thought you were anymore.

In 2018, towards the end of my PhD, I mentally crashed and wanted to end it all. I had put off talking to anyone about it, but as the issues and the depressive thoughts didn’t go away, I finally spoke to a friend who then spoke to my supervisor. From there I got some help through the university.

In 2021, depression crept up on me again and the same habits and thoughts came back.

I’ve learnt to realise what habits and behaviours occur when I feel low and reach out to my friends and family to help me. I changed my lifestyle in many ways that have supported my mental health becoming better – from reading books on Stoicism and learning from YouTubers on their journey of self-improvement.

I took a CBT course and this helped improve my outlook on life and how I dealt with depressive thoughts. I've developed a routine including the combination of exercise, good sleep, good diet, mediation, reducing screen use, journalling and not having alcohol. Also having discussions about mental health with a range of people in my life to ensure that we are creating an environment for all of us to thrive in, is incredibly helpful.

Depressive thoughts do come into my mind from time to time. However, it’s realising they are temporary and are normally arising from not doing one of the tools I adopted.

I found the most challenging part for recovery is taking the first step in doing anything. Whether that be admitting that something is wrong, trying out meditation and journalling for the first time, or going to the gym. Whenever you do something difficult or out of your comfort zone your mind and body will always look for excuses not to do it.

You need to acknowledge this and go through with it anyway. Once you do that challenge many times, it becomes easier and eventually, part of your lifestyle.

My message for men everywhere 

You don’t have to live with depression and low mood. If you notice something feels off in your body or mind, speak to someone about it. Don’t hold it in as this may only make the problem worse.

Many of the friendship's men have are based on topics such as a particular sport, hobby or activity. This can mean conversations struggle to get to a deeper level where uncomfortable conversations including topics like mental health can occur. That doesn’t mean they can’t occur though. Reach out and see.

Want to join the LLHM with Movember for 2024? Yeah ya do - sign up here