In efforts to battle problems with depression and anxiety, one Weymouth woman is taking on a gruelling 96-mile hike.
Claire Alison will be facing the challenge along West Highland Way head on to raise money for mental health charity, Mind.
She is currently in her third year at the University of Winchester, studying a BA in American Studies and English Literature.
Although the 44-year-old has loved many aspects of her university experience and has active in raising awareness of the challenges for commuting students, winning a Student Union award in her first year and the Vice-Chancellor’s Leadership award in her second year for her campaigning work, the pressure of her work has impacted on her mental health.
Claire admitted that the pressure of feeling that her work was being constantly assessed took its toll on her already fragile mental health, resulting in an assessment with a psychiatrist who diagnosed chronic depression and anxiety in January of this year.
Since then, Claire has been coming to terms with her diagnosis, which she says has been "a very up and down process".
On being diagnosed, Claire was advised that regular exercise would help her manage both the depression and anxiety, but says that she was overweight and not remotely interested in exercising.
However, in March, a chance conversation with her 'super-fit' cousin and her daughter resulted in the three deciding to raise money for charities that are important to them by undertaking the well-known Scottish walk, as this would require Claire to get moving as part of her training programme.
Claire said: "It took me a while to get used to walking. My first walk was just a mile and a half and I was in agony afterwards. But I have slowly increased both my pace and distance, and this weekend I completed a twelve and a half mile walk and was still able to move the next day.
"Walking the West Highland Way will take us seven days, and we will be walking between nine and sixteen miles per day, so I’m getting there, as I still have just under two weeks left to train."
Claire is planning to vlog about her walk each day, and says that knowing that the walk is making such a difference to people’s lives is the incentive she needs to keep going.
To support Claire visit justgiving.com/fundraising/clairaloulah