I've been asked why quite a few times. The answer is not simple, and I'm not convinced I know I know why. But I’ll pose a few of the reasons.
The Daily Mail tweeted the headline today: “£55,000-a week England footballer Aaron Lennon is detained under mental health act after stand-off police.”
While I’m grateful there was a strong public outcry at this statement, I’m also aware that papers like the Mail both influence people, and are influenced by what people think. This leads me to my first reason for riding to Bath. Resilience.
For too long we’ve been happy to link mental health issues with weakness. I’m fed up with it. I think we can do so much better than blame and fear. If someone’s leg snaps under pressure, we wouldn’t dream of saying they were weak. Or if their leg breaks due to a weak bone, we wouldn’t dream of saying they should tough it out.
The evidence points to people suffering with mental ill heath as the victim. The illness likely formed during traumatic events beyond our control, usually something that someone else did to us, when we were a child.
The ride to Bath, for me, was for my own health and to help support Off the Record. Off the Record provides therapy for young people experiencing problems with their mental health, and I like their approach. As I write we’ve raised just over £800 (£900 with gift aid) and are just £100 short of our target. I would love to meet it and help as many youngsters as possible.
This ride was also for my own health. Achievement and shared experiences all help build resilience. Boy, do I need it.
As someone who manages a long-term health condition while at the same time running a mental health charity and business I recognise that my mental health is not always great. 3 years ago, I went through a particularly low period after being diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. Fear marked out a period of my life and I was experiencing more than just physical pain.
This was a ride for health.
I completed the ride with 2 very resilient people. Both are men that I’ve known through the years, adventured with in the past. Both have come through various and significant trials. This ride only added to that list of trials! A trial that we came through side by side, supported each other in and completed together.
I pray that Aaron Lennon’s team mates pull together to support him. I’ve been around football my whole life, from Saturday church teams to National teams and I know the potential for support is there. But I also know the potential for isolation in that environment too. The shared experience, the camaraderie, the physical challenge and the leadership, it should lead to a good outcome for Aaron.
But for now, I’m grateful to those around me, to my body for holding up, and to Ash and John for completing the ride with me.
If you'd like to sponsor our ride you have about one more day to do it! Please go to:
|Setting off at Wimbledon|
|First stop, first stretch!|
|Pub lunch and keeping warm by the fire|
|Finishing the really big climb in the Cotswalds|