I am always grateful when guests say yes to giving their time freely to talk openly about often difficult and complicated subjects, allowing their stories to run free for public consumption – but when guests are friends it is an extra special treat.
Talking about suicide feels a big responsibility as an interviewer. If it feels weighty to me I can only imagine how hard it is to talk about for someone who has faced the crippling, deeply personal drive to end their life. Today we hear from the incredible Gayle Tait.
I know Gayle through the tight-knit trail and ultra community in Scotland. We met at Gayle’s first ultra - the Devil O’ The Highlands in 2013 - in which she placed second woman, cementing a talent and a passion for long-distance running. Gayle is also a talented Personal Trainer, and was coaching many others to form and fitness until a devastating injury diagnosis recently forced her to stop the work. She is also loving mama to two children and a selfless contributor to the Scottish trail racing circuit. Since 2013, Gayle has run a catalogue of tough mountain races, from Ultra Trail Monte Rosa to the Mont Blanc 90km, UTMB’s CCC and The West Highland Way Race. This year she will take on the big daddy – the 105-mile, 30,000 feet loop around Mont Blanc that is the UTMB.
Gayle has her own mental health story, dealing with depression and anxiety since university. In 2018 she made an attempt on her life, after a dark period of emotional paralysis. She has also been battling a potentially game-changing knee injury and last year saw the end of her marriage. We talk about what life has been like for Gayle through all of this; what has helped and the work that is still in progress. We dig into her relationship with running and how this impacts her mental wellbeing; how she is moving on through injury; the role of persistent friends in her life; the process of needing and accepting help; and braving a marriage split.
I can’t express how thought provoking it was to talk to Gayle. She has been through a huge amount but her story is not one of submission to a disease. It is one of strength and the value of living openly and vulnerably. Her words on social media and in our conversation send an important message to others; that we too can talk about the difficult feelings and thoughts on our insides, even if our outsides appear ‘normal’.
After seeing Gayle take the leap to tell others online about her suicide attempt others have opened up and started a conversation about their struggles, and Gayle’s selfless honesty in our conversation will only help build the community of people speaking up.
Gayle was also part of Paul Giblin's Pyllon Endeavour, covered in episode 21, which shone a bright spotlight on the mental health conversation in Scotland and further afield.
Check out the episode Friday 1st March at 8am on Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and most Android apps. Please show Gayle your love on social and please pass this on to others in your world who might benefit.