Meet the incredible Rachel Ann Cullen. A talented writer, runner, personal trainer, influencer and mother, Rachel has her own unique story with mental health and passionately champions the power of the outdoors for recovery.
Her childhood was marred by mental illness, supporting her mother who for years suffered terribly with bipolar disorder – or manic depression as it was then known. She absorbed years of silent sadness and anxiety and in her teens began to experience symptoms of her own mental health conditions, later being diagnosed with bipolar and body dysmorphia.
At university, Rachel isolated herself from the outside world, feeling uncomfortable in her own body. She would spend hours in front of a mirror to try and right the imperfections she perceived. Gradually she became entrapped in vicious behavioural cycles that impacted her health, friendships and relationship to alcohol and food, and stole her confidence.
Then, nine years ago, Rachel fell pregnant and vowed to end the cycle of bipolar that had threaded its way through her family history. She registered for the London Marathon and discovered running could help her cut back on medication and better manage her health. It’s not a linear story of being broken and learning to fix a mental health condition, but Rachel champions perseverance and empowerment; that we don’t have to accept the cycles of thinking that keep us stuck.
Rachel has written a frank account of the years she spent in the depths of inner struggle, and what happened when she fell pregnant. Running for my Life is a powerful read, and excitingly Rachel is in the editing phase of her next memoir as well as the early stages of writing her first novel. Watch this space! This woman doesn’t do things by halves.
In our conversation, we dive into:
· Rachel’s experiences and memories from childhood
· What her life looked and felt like in the depths of bipolar and body dysmorphia
· What happened during and after her pregnancy
· The hardest struggles of motherhood
· Mindset on vulnerability, writing a memoir about personal life experiences
· The dangers of an over-reliance on running for therapy
Head on over to the reading page to buy Running for My Life if you haven’t read it. Every purchase throws a few pennies to the podcast. A huge thanks hug to Rachel for talking to me. As always you can find the episode from 8am on Friday over on Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher and TuneIn. Happy listening and remember to check out the new Patreon community!