A WOMAN from West Linton is pulling on her trainers in a bid to beat the blues.

And she is encouraging anyone else suffering from depression to follow in her tracks.

After years of bullying and work pressures Leslie Barrell resorted to self-harm and began to have suicidal thoughts.

Her mental-health issues began to be resolved with the help of a psychiatrist.

And now Leslie hopes to help others suffering from mental health problems when she takes to the starting line of the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run next month.

Leslie told us: “I have struggled with my mental health since I was in primary school, I was bullied through school and then I went into a career where there was pressure to do everything right.

“I used to hide away and learned to put on a brave face but that came to a head when I started to self harm and became suicidal.

“I am now working with a psychologist and I am on medication to help me cope with situations better.

"Running has helped me so much with my confidence, I never thought I would enjoy it but it gives me a sense of positivity and achievement.

“Running gives you a lift, even for a short while and keeping my training going for the 5k is really helping me stay positive and motivated through winter when naturally moods are low."

Leslie is one of several inspirational athletes who will take to the roads in Edinburgh next month to raise funds for the Scottish Association for Mental Health.

This week four of them gathered at St Margaret’s Loch to warm up ahead of their challenge.

Policewoman Kristan Caroll from Tranent was diagnosed with depression and anxiety after suffering several depressive episodes.

Kristan has recently returned to her job after taking up running to help her recovery.

She said: “I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety 15 years ago and have battled against it ever since.

“Since my diagnosis I have been through five depressive episodes where I was extremely low and in a very dark place feeling useless and my self esteem was non-existent.

“This year I decided to start running as a way of helping my mental health. I found this kept me focused on myself and even when I felt at my worst, going for a run made me feel grounded and was something I could control.

“I am determined to keep up my winter training and so I set myself a goal of completing the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run. I feel proud that I have managed to help myself by running and take control of my wellness.”

Around 3,000 runners will take part in the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run on Saturday, January 13, which starts and finishes at Holyrood Park.

There is also a shorter 2.5km course aimed at children between the ages of 7 and 14 years old.

Entries for both runs are still open at www.greatrun.org/winter