There’s no question about it: these past three months spent blogging for Ride Don’t Hide have been a journey.
A journey that has seen me through many highs and lows. My most sincere hope is that my blog posts have given you (the reader) an introspective peek into my recovery from severe mental illness and addiction.
Almost immediately after being tasked with the blog, I relapsed. I relapsed hard. The outpouring of support I’ve received leaves me indebted to many. I couldn’t have come this far without the support of many key figures in my life. Of course, I’m indebted to my family, friends and mental health team, but also to the Ride Don’t Hide committee members at CMHA, BC Division.
Gosh, I must have been such a pain to work with. CMHA, BC Division, deserves a lot of credit. They handled my erratic 3:00 am emails as best as they knew how. As I regressed and became increasingly unwell, the staff encouraged me to take time off to recuperate. My fellow committee members prioritized my mental health, going so far as to ensure my workload wasn’t more than I could handle.
Believe it or not, blogging was the easy part. It was my training that truly tested me.
When just getting out of bed is a challenge, imagine how much of a drag it is to go for a bike ride.
Hallucinations, paranoid delusions and mania further disrupted my training. Those who have never experienced mental illness will never quite grasp how mentally and emotionally taxing it was to go for my weekly rides. Admittedly, as a result of increasingly intrusive symptoms, I wasn’t able to train as hard, or as frequently as I’d have liked.
I left my volunteer position with the national Ride Don’t Hide committee two months ago. I was too ill to function in a work setting. But I wanted to continue my blog for a reason. I believe, if my story can help just one person struggling with a mental health challenge, then it’s worth sharing. So, I tried to depict my recovery as accurately as I could, the ups and downs. Today, my mental health is much improved, but I’m not out of the woods yet.
I think it takes a great deal of strength to support the mental health cause, given today’s rampant social stigma associated with mental illness and addiction.
As Ride Don’t Hide participants, volunteers and staff, you should be incredibly proud to soon be a part of such an effective forum for mental health discussion.
I’m anxiously, but eagerly, anticipating this year’s Ride Don’t Hide. I’ve never ridden so publicly before, so this will be a first. First times always make me nervous. I can’t really gauge whether I’m ready for the ride, but I suppose I’m as prepared as can be, given the circumstances.
If I have one message I’d like to convey to my fellow riders as June 26th approaches, it’s one of appreciation and thanks. Your eagerness to take part in this movement and support mental health in your community will bring hope for recovery to many who struggle with mental health challenges. I am deeply indebted to all of you.
On June 26th, let’s continue the Ride Don’t Hide legacy. Good luck and ride on!