I knew that I needed to do something self-empowering but I admit I was scared like heck when I left. I was scared because I wasn't completely sure I could do it. I still suffered from some stinking thinking that told me this was something I used to be able to do but couldn't anymore because mental health challenges stifle doing something like that.
And there became the lesson for me that only took me 5,540 kilometres on a motorcycle to learn.
Since depression and PTSD came into my life, I've been a public advocate and that means I've involved myself with many people, in many places, about mental health challenges. One theme I've noticed as a constant by those challenged by mental illness is the feeling of wanting, even wishing, for an emotional breakthrough that will include a return to self. I've felt that way myself also.
There is the sense of having lost oneself. I think it is particularly hard for first responders because we are accustomed to being the one others can lean on and count on. But then mental illness comes along and we loose trust in our own self. That's a very powerfully debilitating feeling that translates into a sense of having lost control. Having lost control is a tough thing for someone who carries a gun for a living to accept.
I left for my trip with only a vague plan of travel and I depended on the kindness of strangers throughout my route. I stayed in many places with people I've never met before. That idea alone is something that could have held me back but I'm so grateful it didn't.