New York State Of Mind
My name is Chris Lytas and I’m 42 years old, married to my beautiful wife Joanne and father to an amazing 7-year-old boy called Noah.
Not long after Noah was born I made a promise to myself that I would be the kind of father that led by example, one that showed their child that life is meant to be enjoyed and that pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is the best thing you can do. So, I did what any male who hadn’t run since high school would do… I signed up for a 5-day 180km adventure race in Fiji through my previous employer to raise funds for a kids’ charity!
By the time I finished the event I felt fit, both physically and mentally, more than I had in many years and I liked what I felt. Twenty-three half marathons, 1 full marathon and one team ultra marathon (100Km) later and you could say running has become a way of life for me.
Running for me is my way of making sure that life doesn’t get in the way of living. It allows me to clear my mind, refocus and ensure that any demons I may be battling don’t get the better of me.
However, in September 2016 I received a call that in all honesty, literally changed my life. A close mate of mine, who you could benchmark as a beacon of positivity, had taken his life. I spoke with him two days beforehand and everything seemed fine… normal, if you like, but clearly it wasn’t.
Life then kicked in – I was in the midst of changing jobs, there were things that needed to be done, so I did what a lot of males do… pushed it aside and didn’t let it affect me.
When the opportunity to run the New York Marathon for team beyondblue presented itself, I initially took it as a sign, to turn something so tragic into something positive, so I jumped at the chance. What I didn’t realise at the time was that it would very quickly bring to the fore a lot of what I had pushed aside and something had to give. So, I went and saw my GP with my wife, he asked me a series of questions and suggested I needed to talk to someone and, for the past few months, that’s what I’ve been doing, and it has honestly been one of the best thing I have done - not only for myself, but also for my family.
The event on the 14th of June is a step towards making a positive impact in our community and highlighting the stigma that is associated with talking about mental health. It’s a conversation we need to have and it’s a conversation that we need to be comfortable about having, without fear of retribution or judgement.
The Marathon in New York will be run in honour of not only my mate, but everyone that has shared their story with me over the past few months and those that will over the coming months, and I have no doubt that I’ll be an emotional wreck on that last kilometre running through Hyde Park, but I’m okay with that.
If the work and effort that not only I put in over the coming months, but that we as a collective community put in means that even just one person realises they need to have a conversation, then it will be a successful step in changing a community.
Just imagine what our collective voices could do…
It takes around 55,000 steps to complete the New York Marathon, and on 5 November, Chris Lytas will join tens of thousands of other runners on the streets of New York, carrying the names of 42 supporting virtual runners on his beyondblue running top. Find out more about Chris’ New York State Of Mind campaign at myeverydayhero.com.au.