First-hand experience of depression and anxiety led Alex Brown to run the London Marathon in aid of the Royals’ Heads together campaign.
The IT manager from Southgate is preparing to run his first marathon this weekend, and dubbed the ‘Mental Health Marathon’, it carries a personal connection for Alex.
Over recent years, he has been troubled by mental health issues and he is hoping that by participating in the marathon, he can raise awareness and support for the cause.
Mr Brown said: “Depression strikes when you least expect. It's like a freight train and once it hits you, it's so hard to overcome it.
“My first major episode happened in 2012. Family and friends noted that I was becoming withdrawn and no longer enjoying my hobbies. I felt an overwhelming sense of paranoia in the workplace, every time my colleagues had a conversation, I was convinced they were talking about me.
“I began to think the world would be a better place without me in it.”
Alex said worrying about how others would react to his depression often kept him from seeking help.
He said: “Mental health issues carry with them an unspoken judgement that you won’t be able to fulfil your role in life; as an employee, a father, a husband or even a friend, and it wasn’t until I accepted the fact that I had a mental health issue and sought professional help, that I began to feel better.
“I still suffer with bouts of depression, and there may not be a singular trigger, but having people around me to spot when I need support and encouraging me to speak has changed my life for the better."
Heads Together – a campaign spearheaded by Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry – aims to end stigma around mental health and change the conversation from fear and shame, to confidence and support.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry said: "Since we launched Heads Together last May, we have seen time and time again that shattering stigma on mental health starts with simple conversations.
“When you realise that mental health problems affect your friends, neighbours, children and spouses, the walls of judgement and prejudice around these issues begin to fall. And we all know that you cannot resolve a mental health issue by staying silent."