This Sussex Life: Student Ellie-Louise Herbert. "I knew I had to do the run."
Ellie-Louise Herbert, an undergraduate in Marketing and Management, is among University of Sussex staff and students who will be running the BM10k during Brighton Marathon Weekend on 19 April. She explains why raising money for mental health research is close to her heart.
Last June my ex-boyfriend committed suicide. I’d known Jordan since we were 11. We started going out when we were 16 and were together for four and a half years. But you change as a person, especially turning from a teenager into an adult, and we just grew apart. It was completely amicable and we continued talking for a while. Eight months later his sister messaged me to say that Jordan had taken his own life. No one knew anything was wrong, not even the people he was living with. Jordan and I spoke a lot and were open with each other, but I never thought he would do something like that.
As soon as I heard about the University’s plans to raise money for mental health research, I knew I had to do the run. There are lots of charities out there for mental health, but I know that Sussex’s research is ground-breaking and is looking at prevention. I originally applied for the marathon, thinking I would have enough time to prepare. Then I decided to do the 10k as I haven't been a runner. I’m more of a gym person.
I did my first run the day after I had set up my JustGiving page and was quite surprised that I enjoyed it. I was doing intervals, in which you alternate running and walking. About a week or two into the training I went running with my dad, who’s a personal trainer, and I did my fastest run. I just kept going from there.
Sor far I’ve raised more than £800. I exceeded my target of £200 within 24 hours because lots of my friends and family members wanted to donate after Jordan’s death, and this gave them the opportunity.
Jordan would laugh if he knew I was doing this. I know he would want us to be living our best lives. But I see young people with anxiety all around me.They get caught up with looking on social media and seeing people who seem to be leading better lives than them. It feels like there’s so much pressure. You see people who have been able to buy their own flat at the age of 23 – I can’t see me doing that. I also think drugs have a lot to do with mental health issues. They are so prevalent among young people, but no one is making that connection.
I run along the seafront, which is very therapeutic. Even though I listen to music, it’s a chance to think. The first few times I would well up with emotion because it’s such a nice thing to do with the waves and the sunshine. I run in the morning so that it’s done and out of the way, and by the evening I’m tired.
I also go to a support service now, Rethink Mental Illness, which has been good. I’m lucky that I have friends and especially my mum who I can talk to. But it’s completely different to have someone to talk to who doesn’t know you. For my next run I intend to raise money for this charity.
I still think about Jordan every day. When someone you’re close to commits suicide, everything changes. But I am getting on with my life. I’m currently on a placement year as a junior strategist at UnitedUs, a brand agency. I came to Sussex as a foundation year student, which was a great experience and prepared me so well for when I progressed on to the degree course. I really like Sussex. I came here for an applicant day and I could immediately see myself living on campus. I enjoyed the whole vibe and I have always found it a supportive environment.
This profile is part of our This Sussex Life series.