I find myself wondering how I’ve gotten here. Was this merely a whim or culmination of events that has led me here? More often than not I land on the latter, but that still doesn’t prevent me from having those moments of self-doubt wondering what I’ve gotten myself into and whether I’m prepared for it. I fully admit that I am not and that is kind of the point. None of us enter into mental illness prepared. There is no manual or check list. There is only us struggling to find our way through it alone.
When I was facing suicidal depression I felt alone with that struggle which only led me to become withdrawn and disconnected from those around me. As the depression deepened and suicide grew from ideation to planning I found stories of those that had also gone through it and come out the other side. They came from all walks of life, but the one common element that allowed them to tell their story was having the courage to ask for help in spite of the stigma.
If it wasn’t for those stories, I wouldn’t have had the courage to reach out myself. During the course of my recovery I was forced to face the stigma and ignorance from those around me. I knew the importance of sharing my story and I refused to hide it away in case it ever became the story that helped another have the strength to reach out or provide a safe space. Regrettably, there were those in my life whose toxicity were necessary to remove from overwhelming my own voice.
But my voice and story can only reach so far. Those that need help to overcome the stigma in their heads to seek help continue to exist. Those that need education to overcome their ignorance and become a safe place for those in need continue to exist. So I find myself asking for help once again, to add to the story and amplify the voice to show we don’t have to be alone and there is strength in asking for help when we face something we aren’t prepared for.
When I started riding a motorcycle I quickly found there was no shortage of stories where riders found help from strangers. It didn’t seem to matter if they were a fellow rider, a local, or even spoke the same language. There was only a desire to help by passing along experience, shelter, repairs, or transportation to get the rider a little further along their journey.
As I was planning my first major road trip it occurred to me that this was the model I wanted for society in treating those with mental illness. I socialized the idea of a metaphorical ride calling on others to help with the struggles of my journey and share the stories of how strangers each helped get me a little further along the road.