A woman whose mental health was so bad at the start of 2021 she had to be sectioned for her own safety has completed 24 half-marathons in 24 days to raise money for charity.
Radio producer Charlie Smith, 28, undertook the challenge to raise money for mental health charity Mind, who helped her after she was sectioned earlier this year.
She set out with the intention of raising £500, but by the time she completed her 24th half-marathon on Christmas Eve she had passed £25,000.
At the start of this month, I set myself the challenge of doing 24 half marathons in 24 consecutive days to raise £500 for the charity that helped save my life.
Well, today I did my final one, and have only gone & raised over £25250!!! 🎉 pic.twitter.com/r9oNqQNAPu
— Charlie Smith (@charliersmith1) December 24, 2021
Ms Smith, from Leeds, told the PA news agency: “I just feel really proud of myself.
“This year has been really, really, really hard, and there have been many times where I really did not think I would make it this far on in the year – I genuinely didn’t think that I was going to survive the first few months.
“So to be at this stage stage where I’ve not only survived it, but I’ve done this challenge and raised all this money, it just feels absolutely sensational.”
Ms Smith, who has bipolar disorder and OCD, said she was “in a really, really bad, bad way” towards the start of 2021.
“I just felt so low and I had a lot of suicidal thoughts,” she said.
“It got to a stage where I’d made plans to take my life essentially.”
Ms Smith was referred to local specialists after her therapist realised something was wrong, and ultimately she found herself hospitalised for her own safety.
It was while she was there, with staff contact lower than usual because of Covid, that she found herself turning to Mind.
“I found myself using Mind a lot,” she said.
“I was scared and alone in my hospital room, I didn’t really know what to expect going forward. I didn’t really know what kind of options I had.
“So I did a bit of research and ended up on the Mind website and I became a lot more familiar with what I should do and what sort of options are out there, but also there were a lot of stories on there of people who had been in similar situations, people who’d kind of come through the other side, and just seeing that made me feel a lot less on my own.”
The charity was also “a godsend” for her wife Vicky, Ms Smith said, because of the support they could offer while she was in hospital.
The idea for the running challenge came around while she was deciding what advent calendar she might get this year.
My wife just posted this on her socials – and I thought it was important to share, as it’s not just those with mental illnesses that @MindCharity helps – it’s their loved ones too 💙 pic.twitter.com/gfXmSTNdNS
— Charlie Smith (@charliersmith1) December 23, 2021
“I was doing some research and came across different ideas that people had, like people were doing random acts of kindness, or were doing something for like a food bank where they did an item a day,” she said.
“And I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I could…do something that would give back to people who have helped me this year’.”
The challenge was not all plain sailing, as an Achilles injury she sustained meant she had to walk rather than run most of the last week of half-marathons.
But she said the “absolutely incredible” generosity of those who have donated has made it all worthwhile.
“I keep checking (the total) and I honestly keep tearing up because I just can’t quite believe it,” she said.
To donate head to justgiving.com/fundraising/charlie-smith60