Michelle Bavin, story below // From Those Who Run, 2018, for @bbcnews •
Michelle was brought up by her grandparents because (she was led to believe) her “mum had gone out shopping and never came back.” She spent her childhood wondering what she had done to make her mother not want her anymore, and also trying not to upset her grandparents in case they abandoned her too. For Michelle this is the root of her mental health problems. She turned to food for comfort. In January 2016 she weighed just over 20 stone. But through a local support group she gradually learned to manage her a “very bad relationship with food”, and as a result she lost nearly 9 stone.
She started running in November 2016, as walking was not burning off enough energy. She started slowly, with a couch-to-5km. At first she couldn’t manage a whole minute of running and the first few weeks felt long and tiresome, but she stuck with it. She loves the freedom it gives her from her thoughts. She can now run 10km quite comfortably, not fast, but most importantly, really enjoying the running, and now runs regularly twice a week. She tells me that even as I we sit and talk about things, she is very surprised at how far she has come. She still struggles with depression and anxiety but has learnt over the years to manage it.
Going for a run gives her a sense of achievement, whilst concentrating on breathing and the music helps her to forget her troubles. She explains that after a run she usually feels ready to take on the world.