Kate on race day

York woman faces her fears in race for Samaritans

A York woman, who struggled to leave her home last year due to panic attacks, completed the Great North Run on Sunday (10 September), in Newcastle.

Kate Wozniak, 37 of Rawcliffe, decided to start running to help manage her mental health.

The mother of two decided to fundraise for Samaritans, having called them for help in February 2016. Kate said: "People think you have to be suicidal to call Samaritans, that's not the case. I rang because depression had me trapped in bed, alone with my thoughts. A day stretching out in front of me was terrifying.

"You'd think a phone call was easy, but even that could overwhelm me. My head was ruining my mental and physical health. It was all just too much to bear.

"The volunteer I spoke to was incredibly helpful. In that dark place reaching out seems pointless. However, the lady I spoke with helped me to plan a structure to my day. Just knowing that I could pick up the phone, or send an email for support made a real difference to how I was feeling."

With the support of her GP, Kate began the process of accessing professional support. In July 2016, she was diagnosed with EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality disorder), also known as Borderline Personality Disorder and cPTSD (complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Kate said: "I had never even heard of EUPD until I was diagnosed with it. It was big relief though. I realised that how I was feeling wasn't my fault and that my brain was wired up a bit differently."

Kate now manages her condition using medication and specialist therapy. As she grew mentally stronger she began to challenge herself to run for something to focus on.

"On those first runs I was very self-conscious leaving the house. I'd only go out when I expected the streets to be quiet. I wore a cap pulled down to hide my face."

As part of her Great North Run training, Kate took part in local events but running with other people caused panic attacks. Now she has built the skills and confidence to manage them.

Up to 57,000 people took to the streets in the Great North Run, which was won by Mo Farah for the fourth time in a row. Kate knew it would be a big test, mentally and physically.

"At the start, I felt ready. This was something I so wanted to do; for me and for Samaritans. All the training, both physical and mental, along with the support I've received meant that I stood in that crowd of runners anxiety free.

"I crossed the line and immediately burst into tears. Then a panic came and I couldn't breathe. I managed to quickly get it under control. It was overwhelming how much the achievement meant to me, particularly being part of the Samaritans team and it being World Suicide Prevention Day. The Great North Run was one of the best experiences of my life."

You can support Kate in his fundraising bid here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kate-wozniak1

For further information, please contact Samaritans’ press office on 020 8394 8300 or press@samaritans.org.

-Ends-

  • Whatever you’re going through, you can call Samaritans for free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), or you can email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.
  • It’s the public’s kind donations and more than 20,000 trained volunteers that mean Samaritans is always there for anyone struggling to cope.  Find out how you can support us: http://www.samaritans.org/support-us