Keep CALM and Carry On

I'm currently in the midst of training for the Liverpool marathon. Originally I didn't want to run for charity, I wanted to run only for myself. However, I recently reconsidered as it seemed an unmissable opportunity to raise some charity funds. After all, when you run 10k several times a week people stop sponsoring you for them!

After some thought I decided to run for CALM: The Campaign Against Living Miserably.

You may not like the name, I didn't- it gave me a strange kind of angry reaction, "How dare you, he wasn't miserable". But I do like what they do. CALM works to raise awareness about suicide in men. They additionally run a national helpline for men struggling with depression or suicidal thought. Male suicide is a colossal issue in the UK. Suicide has fallen in women yet remains the biggest cause of death among men under the age of 45 in the UK. Men who want to seek help to deal with suicidal feelings encounter so many obstacles- between societal pressure to be strong and 'Man Up', a lack of awareness about the magnitude of the problem, and a lack of counselling or campaigns targeting men at all.

My family has been affected by depression and suicide. One of us died in 2014. When I think about it, it still doesn't seem possible that the person we knew and loved left us this way. Sometimes I still think he will stride of the crowds on a busy street. He didn't seem like the 'sort of person' who is at risk of depression- he was full of cheeky spark and vitality, immaculately dressed, the life of any party. The Liverpool Rock n' Roll Marathon seems strangely appropriate because he adored music. More importantly, he was a fantastically warm and giving person. His funeral was packed to the rafters with the huge crowd of people who's lives he had touched. Legions of friends and family.

Training in the CALM race vest.
He didn't say anything to anyone about how he was feeling. He tried to stay outwardly strong, 'like a man' after some big difficulties and changes in his life. We didn't know that he was suffering, and we didn't see it coming. Suicide leaves a wake in the lives of the people who surround the victim. The emotional impact is huge and complex- sadness, disbelief, dissociation, anger. The wake binds some people closer together and rips some relationships apart.

Stories like this are not uncommon. Stories like this are why we need campaigns like CALM's. To show men that there are people to talk to, that there is no shame in depression or suicidal thought, to support them to reach out to someone, to change the societal view that men don't talk about their feelings and that men don't cry. To quote a common CALM hashtag, to say: #ItsOkToNotFeelOk 

If a campaign like CALM's can keep one more father, uncle, brother, friend, or partner alive then it's a worthwhile thing. 

If you can spare any donation, I would be thrilled. My just giving is here, and there will also be a sidebar widget active throughout marathon training and fundraising. 

Thank you.


Post written by Scallywag and published on Scallywag Sprints on 15/04/16


  1. Hi Fiona, I'm really pleased you are running for this charity as spreading awareness about mental health issues with men is seriously important. We often forget that men's feeling's matter, they shouldn't be in a position where they have to hide it and battle alone. I have a younger brother and he's suffering with serious mental health issues, he's also been the victim of domestic abuse. I’ll never forget that 6ft handsome boy sitting with my mother crying because he felt he couldn't go to the police as he was sure she would turn it on him and they would never possibly believe him.
    I’m so sad to read that you lost a loved some to mental health, suddenly you are left with all the heart-breaking feelings of ‘I could have helped..’, ‘I should have known’..
    You’ll smash this!

    1. Katie I am so sorry for what your brother has been through, and glad he has such a supportive family.

      I think men's mental health is crazily overlooked, and depression in general is so widespread. It is heartbreaking. I wish I had asked more, pressed more, 'are you really okay'? You know?

      It has such a huge effect on those suffering and those around them. I'm glad I can help somehow!