When mental illness first affected me almost two years ago now it came completely out of the blue, but since then looking back I think it may have always been lurking just under the surface.
For no reason whatsoever as far as I could tell, I woke up one Saturday morning and felt different. Very different. Very different not in a good way. I mean, I had been out having a few drinks the night before and feeling a little worse for wear was to be expected, but this felt different to a normal hangover. It felt like a shift within me, like anxiety off the scale - like something had changed and not for the better. The world felt a little darker and that security blanket that had always been there had been stripped away from me. It felt very unfamiliar and it scared the hell out of me.
Since that horribly memorable Saturday morning, I have been on horrendous roller coaster of a journey trying out anything and everything I can in an attempt to feel vaguely ok. It has been a struggle just getting through the day sometimes, but I am determined to get better and also determined to figure out what happened to me and why. I have seen all sorts of therapists, started doing yoga and kickboxing, been exercising loads, got back into mediation and mindfulness massively, have read all sorts of books on trauma, books on body mind connection, books on the ego, books on chinese medicene - books on anything to gain a deeper understanding of mental and physical wellbeing.
I have definitely learned a lot about myself over the past few years since having these mental health issues, and even though I still have a long way to go, I do feel a little more together, or at least understand a little more about my situation than I did when my issues first began. Throwing myself into mindfulness and having therapy has helped massively. It has taught me to be more aware of myself and things around me, to be more open and to share, and be with what you are experiencing, good or bad.
To get some time away from London and to learn more about physical and mental wellbeing from different perspective to the western world, I took a sabbatical from work and headed to south east Asia for 5 months studying mindfulness and martial arts at a few different retreats, and on my return I will be fundraising for the mental health charity Mind.
Mind have been an amazing support to me through these difficult times so I wanted to show my appreciation to them by raising much needed funds and awareness by running approximately a 800 mile loop of the England’s canals and rivers, setting off at the beginning of September. (Route details below) Talking about mental health issues are a great way of dealing with them, but it is also a great way of raising awareness of them too. So, as I run from town to town, my plan is to sofa surf as I go, and use it as a chance to talk to as many people as I can about mental health and why talking makes you stronger.
I will also be taking my amazing little dog Teddy with me on this adventure as he loves a good old run and this might finally tire him out! For anyone that’s worried about a dog running all this way I have cleared it with my vet but I do have to buy him some doggy running shoes! Teddy’s craziness, non stop entertainment and unconditional love has been such a huge support to me so I want to promote too how much of a positive impact animals can have on people going through mental illness. During my trip around South East Asia I spent a little time in Thailand at the Phuket Dog Pound. The dogs they home there have been rescued from the street as they are in need of care, and some have been taken in after being rescued from dog meat farms. They have only 2 full time staff that work for free and do an unbelievable job of caring for over 800 dogs! They do not receive any money from the government and desperately need funds for medication and food for the dogs so I will be collecting cash donations for the pound as I run.
If you fancy joining me at any point along the route for a few miles or even few days I would love the company. Also if yourself, a friend, a friend of a friend, a relative or a relative of a relative, or a friend of a relative of a friend (you get the idea), that lives on or near the route below and has a sofa they wouldn’t mind myself and Teddy borrowing for the night, please ping me a message at the email address below, I would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading.
Adrian & Teddy x
To get in contact with me either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook
The basic route is below but for a much more detailed version of the route I am taking please click on this link to Viewfinder:
You can also download the Viewfinder smartphone app for free and search for 'Adrian & Teddy's big adventure'.
Adrian & Teddy’s big adventure
London to Bristol (West )
Day 1. Sunday 1st Sept LONDON/Hayes
Day 2. Monday 2nd SeptSLOUGH/Taplow
Day 3. Tuesday 3rd Sept MAIDENHEAD/Henley On Thames
Day 4. Wednesday 4th Sept READING/Theale
Day 5. Thursday 5th Sept NEWBURY/Marsh Benham
DAY 6. FRIDAY 6TH REST DAY
Day 7. Saturday 7th Sept HUNGERFORD/Ram Alley
Day 8. Sunday 8th Sept ALTON BARNES/Devizes
Day 9. Monday 9th Sept BRADFORD ON AVON/Limpley Stoke
Day 10. Tuesday 10th Sept BATH/Bitton
Day 11. Wednesday 11th Sept BRISTOL/Moorend
DAY 12. THURSDAY 12TH REST DAY
Bristol to Lancaster (North)
Day 13. Friday 13th Sept BRADLEY STOKE/Avening Green
Day 14. Saturday 14th Sept BERKELEY/Frampton On Severn
Day 15. Sunday 15th Sept GLOUCESTER/Ashleworth
Day 16. Monday 16th Sept UPTON UPON SEVERN/Severn Stoke
Day 17. Tuesday 17th Sept WORCESTER/Holt Heath
Day 18. Wednesday 18th Sept KIDDERMINSTER/Kinver
DAY 19. THURSDAY 19TH REST DAY
Day 20. Friday 20th Sept WOLVERHAMPTON/ Tetten Hall
Day 21. Saturday 21st Sept NEWPORT/Norbury Junction
Day 22. Sunday 22th SeptMARKET DRAYTON/Adderly
Day 23. Monday 23rd Sept NANTWICH/Calveley
Day 24. Tuesday 24th Sept CHESTER/Chester
Day 25. Wednesday 25th SeptLIVERPOOL/Birkenhead
Day 26. Thursday 26th Sept CROSBY/Melling
DAY 27. FRIDAY 27TH REST DAY
Day 28. Saturday 28th Sept ORMSKIRK/Burscough Bridge
Day 29. Sunday 29th Sept PRESTON/Ashton on Ribble
Day 30. Monday 30th Sept LONGRIDGE/Garstang
Day 31. Tuesday 1st Oct LANCASTER/Moorlands
Lancaster to York (East)
Day 32. Wednesday 2nd Oct BROOKHOUSE/Wray
Day 33. Thursday 3rd Sept HIGH BENTHAM/Settle
Day 34. Friday 4th Sept LONG ASHES PARK/Hebden
DAY 35. SATURDAY 5TH REST DAY
Day 36. Sunday 6th Oct PATELEY BRIDGE/Summerbridge
Day 37. Monday 7th Oct HARROGATE/Knaresborough
Day 38. Tuesday 8th Oct YORK/York
York to London (South)
Day 39. Wednesday 9th Oct STILLINGFLEET/Selby
Day 40. Thursday 10th Oct HOWDEN/Rawcliffe
Day 41. Friday 11th Oct STAINFORTH/Doncaster
Day 42. Saturday 12th Oct DONCASTER/Eastwood
Day 43. Sunday 13th Oct SHEFFIELD/Staveley
DAY 44. MONDAY 14TH REST DAY
Day 45. Tuesday 15th Oct CHESTERFIELD/Ripley
Day 46. Wednesday 16th Oct NOTTINGHAM/Long Eaton
Day 47. Thursday 17th Oct LOUGHBOROUGH/Loughborough
Day 48. Friday 18th Oct LEICESTER/Leicester
Day 49. Saturday 19th Oct OADBY/Foxton
Day 50. Sunday 20th Oct MARKET HARBOROUGH/Crick
Day 51. Monday 21st Oct DAVENTRY/Bugbrooke
DAY 52. TUESDAY 22nd REST DAY
Day 53. Wednesday 23rd Oct NORTHAMPTON/Blue Bridge
Day 54. Thursday 24th Oct MILTON KEYNES/Leighton Buzzard
Day 55. Friday 25th Oct LEIGHTON BUZZARD/Berkhamsted
Day 56. Saturday 26th Oct WATFORD/Croxley Green
Day 57. Sunday 27th Oct UXBRIDGE/Hayes
Day 58. Monday 28st Oct LONDON/WEMBLEY - stopping in my bed!