THE STORY

 
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You know the innate desire for adventure that lies within all of us? I sure do, and mine has come to a point where I can no longer ignore it. I’ve had a lifelong aspiration to cycle across the country we call home and the time to take on that challenge has finally come. This May 2018, I will be flying to Tofino, BC to dip my bike into the chilly Pacific Ocean, and will start my journey to St. John’s, Newfoundland. It will be a 3-month, approximately 8,000 km, ride stretching across all of our provinces.

The idea of this ride is very exciting, challenging, and to some degree daunting. So, to strengthen my motivation I wanted to make it bigger than just me, bigger than just a bike ride.

As some know, and some do not, I have battled many mental health challenges over the years. Everyone experiences and deals with mental health issues differently. Mine have presented themselves as intense bouts of anxiety and depression, and most recently a form of bipolar disorder. The anxiety and depression would come in waves for no apparent reason and could completely debilitate me at times. At the onset, it was incredibly nerve-wracking to reach out to people for support, let alone trying to make sense of what was going on in my head. It’s nerve-wracking because you have no idea how people are going to respond and whether they might judge you. I wanted so bad to feel “normal” and was constantly resisting the emotions and swings I was experiencing.

It has been about a six-year process to identify what was going on in my head, seek help, and get on the right track to set myself up for success moving forward.

I am finally at a place where I am accepting of my mental struggles, have almost sorted out my medications and have my toolbox of strategies in place to keep my emotions in check and be productive. I have also built a strong support network of people that I can go to when I need them (you know who you are).

Not that my mental challenges are “solved”, as they are part of who I am, but looking retrospectively, it’s been the support from my family, friends, psychiatrists, and mental health professionals, commitment to therapies, coping mechanisms, and medication that have brought me to a much healthier and stable mental state.

I am doing this ride because I want everyone dealing with mental illnesses to receive the support, attention, and care they deserve. I want to help people build the confidence to open up and reach out to someone they feel they can talk to. I want to encourage people to accept that it is okay to experience mental health issues and that they are not alone. And I want to instill confidence in people struggling with mental illnesses and that with the right support, tools, and mindset, they can achieve anything.

I’m setting my eyes on crossing Canada by bike - please help me achieve my goal and help everyone else dealing with mental health challenges achieve theirs.

Pedal to the medal,

Ryan