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Homepage / Running for recovery – a story about mental health

Running for recovery – a story about mental health



Nothing can dim the light that shines from within” – Maya Angelou

I have undertaken national consultancy work in the field of disaster victim identification and advise on UK police cases concerning the time-since-death from human decomposition, which utilises my PhD specialism.

This is my story.

In September 2021 I suffered a trauma. I had to take 4 months of sick leave from work to heal physically and begin mental recovery. In the immediate aftermath, I felt indescribable gratitude to be alive. However, as the weeks went by, I found every aspect of my life had been turned upside down and I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). During my sick leave from work, I received incredible support from HR and my line manager. I am also very lucky to have supportive family, friends, and work colleagues who provided me with the caring environment I needed to begin healing.

Once I felt able to, I began running for recovery. I wanted a goal to achieve and quickly set my sights on running the London Marathon taking place on Saturday 2nd October 2022. After 9 months of hard work, determination, and many miles of running, I am now registered as a Competitive Athlete with England Athletics and affiliated with the Alchester Running Club in Oxfordshire. I have never run a marathon before, but I thrive on challenges.

Stephanie Giles running

I returned to work in January 2022 and found Cranfield to be supportive in accommodating a phased return to work. Through regular face-to-face meetings, I felt supported, listened to, and most importantly empowered to return to work at a pace that I felt comfortable with. While I had already been signposted professional support by medical services, Cranfield offered further support through the employee assistance programme (PAM), who undertook my occupational health assessment with compassion and understanding.

In my efforts to run the London Marathon, I have chosen to support The Mental Health Foundation. This UK charity supports millions of people affected by mental health issues. Running is the first item in my toolbox for my own mental health and wellbeing. It makes me feel stronger and gives me freedom from traumatic memories. With prevention at the heart of what they do, the Mental Health Foundation aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive.

Since having PTSD I have endeavoured to keep my glass half full. I try and see it as evidence of my survival, but it is not something that will just go away overnight. Every day I battle with one or more symptoms, but I refuse to let it define me.

I would encourage anyone who feels they are battling mental health problems to reach out to HR and PAM since their support and guidance greatly help me adjust back to working life.

I would be very grateful for any donation, no matter how small. Your donation will help the Mental Health Foundation achieve its aim of better mental health for all, and will spur me over the finish line! Thank you for reading my story.

Stephanie Giles

Written By: Samantha Morley

Stephanie Giles is a Lecturer in Forensic Taphonomy at Cranfield Forensic Institute with an operational background in the police as a Crime Scene Investigator (CSI).

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