A question that we keep getting asked is “why are you cycling to Iran?” Any of you that are familiar with us & our blog may know that in August of next year we have decided to take on the massive challenging of cycling from Manchester, UK all the way to Iran, if you want to know more about what’s made us decide to do this, read on….
We have decided to cycle all this way to challenge ourselves but most importantly to raise money & awareness for UK mental health charity Mind
For years now I have been battling with a mental health illness, for how long I don’t know as a lot of the time I don’t even know it’s happening. You see I am a naturally very positive & extremely strong-willed person so I was able to mask my illness for a number of years, from those around me & even from myself. Until this year it seemed, when feelings started to arise in me that I could no longer suppress, it weakened me & took a complete hold of me & I knew at that point I needed to take action & to work on making myself feel better.
My Lowest Point
The point that I actually really started to feel that things were not quite right was when we arrived in Canada in April. Thoughts & feelings of utter fear & a deep anxiety kept arising in me. Some of you reading this may wonder what I have to be unhappy about, travelling the world with the person I love, seeing all of these incredible places, you are right & I felt the same, so much so that I tried once again to suppress these thoughts & oh boy did they come back to bite me.
By this point we had left the UK, travelled to Cuba to learn Spanish & cycled just the two of us from Havana all the way to Trindad, explored some Mexico’s beautiful coast, Mayan ruins & vibrant cities & travelled through the stunning landscape in Guatemala, it really had been the most amazing year of travel at that point.
As strange as this sounds I think that maybe because everything was so perfect, the travelling, my wonderful relationship with Adam it meant that it was time for the unresolved to be resolved! The feelings within me that weren’t quite right were calling out for help, it was almost as if I was asking to be fixed!
Feeling Loved & Supported
Adam has also suffered with his own mental health in the past, we’ve had long discussions about how both of us have felt with him describing to me how he wouldn’t want to leave the house for days at his lowest points & would feel like he was literally in a pit of despair.
Having each other to talk things through with has for both of us been such a huge thing, we’ve both had things that we have never talked of with anyone else. Neither of us have ever had another person around that we are able to describe our thoughts & feelings to in so much detail, we are very fortunate to have found each other & I truly believe it is what makes our relationship so strong.
Having such a supportive person by my side has encouraged me to heal but most importantly has taught me love myself first. I would say to anyone else suffering with a mental health illness that love & support is key, that might not be in a partner but could be a friend, another loved one, counsellor or someone else, the most important thing is to not suffer alone, I tried to do this for a number of years & accepting love & support is what now has me on the road to recovery.
The first step for me to seek help was admitting there was a problem, the thing is that there is so much stigma linked to mental health that half the time I felt like I didn’t want to admit the problem in fear of looking crazy but how wrong I was! By not admitting & suppressing what I was actually feeling I was driving myself even crazier.
I helped myself most by recognising my thoughts & feeling fully, by letting them be & observing them, I am still working with this now but it is becoming a lot less of a struggle for me. I have found that meditation & yoga have always been my biggest aids in helping to calm my mind & see clearly. I have also found that writing & focusing on Destination Addict has given me a huge sense of purpose, I am able to focus my energy into the thing that I am truly passionate about, travel & adventure.
The Big Focus
After cycling in Cuba we both decided that we would love to try another cycling tour, the sense of freedom & adventure that comes with pedalling yourself so far was for both of us, like no other & we just want more! Adam started to research & talk of cycling across Europe arose, we both agreed that we would love to see more of Eastern Europe & when we looked at a map together to plan out roughly what we were going to do, Turkey was just there too & Iran just popped out, it’s a country I have wanted to visit for a very long time so that was that, we decided, 6,500km through 15 countries from Manchester to Iran.
Along with deciding on our route we also decided that we would like to fund-raise for a charity whilst cycling, given the most recent events in our lives it seemed only natural to us to choose Mind, a UK mental health charity who “won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.” We are aiming to raise £10,000 in total, not a small amount but we are confident we can make it happen. We would also like to raise as much awareness as we possibly can to show others that there are people who care & they do not need to suffer in silence.
We are taking this whole thing on to push our own boundaries, to show that we are stronger than our own minds & to raise money & awareness for a charity that will help so many people who are struggling daily. We believe that mental health is overlooked by many, it’s not a physical condition, you cannot see it so many believe that it is not there. We would like to remove this belief & show others that it is there, people suffer daily from this debilitating condition & that there is help & support out there for people who need it.
Our Next Steps
If you are not aware we are currently in Colombia for a further few months of travel before we return to the UK to get ready for our cycling trip. We will be doing lots of fundraising & awareness raising whilst we are there, if you would like to help at all you can enable us to complete this mammoth challenge right HERE or donate directly to Mind right HERE.
Personally I am now concentrating on making myself better, through yoga & meditation & appreciation of the here & now I am starting to see incredible changes within myself. I have also made the decision at the moment not to drink any alcohol as for me it triggers any unwanted thoughts & that in itself has also worked complete miracles.
Practising gratitude & taking the time to appreciate what & who I am lucky to have in my life has also helped me massively. I would just like to say a big thank you to each & every one of you for reading this & following our blog, we love sharing our adventures with you all & the feedback & support we have received has been absolutely amazing.
Special shout out to my family & friends who have always been by my side no matter what & whom I love dearly, to the travel tribe who know who they are & do more than they know but most of all for Adam in whom I have found the one person who I can truly love, trust & respect & just as importantly am able to accept it back, words will never be enough to describe how much this incredible man means to me.
This is by no means an easy thing to so publicly write about but I am doing this to show that there is no shame in suffering from a mental illness, I would like anyone who has had similar feelings to know that there is help & support out there for you.
If you have any thoughts or questions & wouldn’t mind sharing them for everyone to see you can do so by commenting below.
Thanks so much for reading & for your continued support 🙂
Kelly & Adam x