My time here in Belfast has thus far been a vacation of sorts. While not the most positive experience for my mental health, it has left me with an abundant (and seemingly never-ending) amount of spare time to think. After 3 weeks of intense thinking I have finally decided on my Next Big Adventure. So without further ado, and a slight drumroll to build up the excitement I present to you this springs adventure:
John O’Groats to Lands End is a route that takes you from Northern Scotland to Southern England. The approximate distance is 920 miles and it takes around 14 days, averaging 66KM/day. Now to the accomplished cyclist this probably doesn’t seem so mad. So let me provide you with a brief history of myself and cycling:
I am an absolute novice cyclist. And by novice I mean – never have I ever ridden a bicycle further than 2km. For some irrational reason stemming from the part of my mind that enjoys turning simple tasks into massive points of anxiety, I am terrified of cycling. I believe it to be a combination of anxiety, low self-belief, and a general lack of balance that has had me keeping my distance from bicycles of all shapes and sizes. Which is exactly what makes this the perfect next adventure. I will once again be pushing myself both physically and mentally and accomplishing something so terrifically far out of my comfort zone, the butterflies are flitting about my stomach just thinking about it.
To further stress my point:
I know absolutely nothing about bicycles and do not currently own one. Never have I ever patched a tire and I shudder at the thought of showing off my thighs in bike-shorts. Meaning I’m going to require some real preparation time. My past adventures have been spur of the moment with very little planning done for good reason – when given the time to properly THINK THINGS THROUGH I have a tendency to back out of plans. I allow the fear and anxiety to win and ruin all the fun. This time round I’m switching things up. With a June start date, you’ll have 5 months to watch me anxiously train.
As of now I’ve yet to choose a charity organisation to raise funds for, but rest assured, I’m on the hunt. I’d like to find a charity that supports and empowers youth struggling with their mental health for these 3 reasons:
- My own MH struggles began at a young age. Throughout this journey I will gradually reveal more and more details of my past but suffice it to say that the system failed me on many levels. I whole-heartedly believe that had there been more knowledge, understanding, and readily available and AFFORDABLE resources, my struggles would not have been as great.
- As a nanny I’ve taken care of some truly exceptional children. Children who I want to grow up knowing that it is OK to feel powerful emotions other than happiness. I want them to grow up in an environment that encourages them to speak about their mental health, for better or for worst. I desperately want them to have resources to turn to should they ever feel overwhelmed by what is going on in the very depths of their minds. I want them to know that dodgy mental health does not limit you nor does it lessen your value as a member of society but rather if you can find the courage to speak up and confront your inner demons you are INFINITELY stronger than any bully. I want them to grow up in a world without stigma.
- Finally, this adventure at it’s very core was inspired by youth. Over the last 3 years I have encouraged my nanny kids to be fearless in all they do. I’ve tried to help them see just how brilliantly brave they are and hope that I have helped them learn to EMBRACE THEIR WEIRD as opposed to supressing and hiding it away from the world. I’ve told them to shoot for the stars and to DREAM BIG. It’s far past time I listen to my own words of wisdom.
So I dedicate this 920mile adventure to the monkeys who taught me the true meaning of FEARLESSNESS, the monkeys who I have watched conquer every fear and obstacle that has ever dare to stand in their way (and of course, to their dedicated and encouraging parents). We are STRONG, we are SMART, and we are BRAVE…and I can’t wait to prove it to myself once more in yet another anxious adventure.
So my darling readers, prepare yourselves for an influx of pictures of me falling off bicycles and making a wee fool of myself. And if anyone knows of any brilliant British organisations geared towards Mental Health in youth, send them my way along with ALL of your knowledge of road-cycling.