A young dad who had suicidal thoughts after losing his job earlier this year is crediting running with pulling him through the worst times.
Reece Balfour, 26, from Fintry, was made redundant from his job as a heating engineer in January, having previously spent five years in the army.
Reece admits after losing his job he struggled to get out of bed in the mornings and didn’t know what to do with himself without the day-to-day consistency of work.
And without knowing it, the new dad, who has a five-month-old son, Roman, slipped into depression and reached his lowest ebb.
‘I was in a really bad place’
Reece said: “When I lost my job at the end of January due to Covid-19 I was really badly affected.
“My mental health hit rock bottom, although I didn’t realise to begin with that I was depressed.
“It got so bad that I didn’t even have the motivation to get out of bed in the morning and there were times I just thought I wanted to end it all.
“I was in a really bad place but despite having suicidal thoughts I knew I couldn’t do it.
“My partner Alana MacLaughlan and I had just had a baby boy, Roman, who is now five months, at around the same time I lost my job and I knew I needed to be there for them.”
Reece had been furloughed twice last year which was bad enough, but when he was told he was to be let go just after Christmas, his mental health was further impacted.
He had never been out of work in a decade, and was always financially independent.
But he found himself having to ask for money for the first time and was put on Universal Credit.
As his mental health deteriorated, Reece’s partner Alana eventually persuaded him to see a doctor.
He said: “My state of mind had put a lot of pressure on our relationship and it wasn’t fair on Alana, who was also coping with a new baby.
“She is the one who said I needed to get help. I went to the doctor and was told I was suffering from depression.”
After speaking to the doctor, Reece knew he had to make changes to his life, and took up running as a way to clear his head.
He was getting up early in the morning to go out a run, forcing himself to be productive at the start of the day.
As his physical fitness continued to improve, an old army friend got in touch with him to ask if he’d like to take part in a charity run which would test how far he’d come in his training.
Reece agreed and the gruelling challenge will see him take on a marathon and half marathon in one day.
Despite only recently taking up running, Reece is confident he can complete the challenge in six or seven hours.
He will use the event to raise money for Back On Side, a small independent charity that supports people with mental health problems and illness, encouraging recovery through focused sporting activities.
“I know that running is what got me through the very worst times and I wanted to do something to encourage others to take up sporting activities to help them also,” he said.
“My training is going well and I hope to be able to complete the distance in around six to seven hours.
“We are hoping to raise £1,000 for the charity and are already well on our way with more than £600 raised already.”
‘Mental health support is key’
Reece added: “I had never really suffered mental health issues before and was devastated at how badly affected I became.
“Mental health is an obvious problem, yet it is estimated that only a quarter of sufferers receive ongoing treatment, leaving the majority of the UK population tackling these issues on their own.
“If we can raise money and highlight the concerns at the same time I will be delighted.
“I’ve received a lot of help to try to get my life back on track and am doing everything I can to find another job but it’s obviously not easy at this time.
“However, I can now look with optimism to the future.”
To make a donation to Reece’s efforts, click here.