road2blue is a solitary motorcycle journey from Chilliwack, British Columbia to Inuvik, NWT for the purpose of increasing the public awareness of Clinical Depression
July 2, 2011 I returned home from an extraordinary journey into Canada’s Arctic. I travelled alone by motorcycle “as far north as a public road extends in North America.” I was not the first person nor the last to travel this path and in many ways this was not an unusual venture. What made this journey unique was the purpose. What made this journey extraordinary were the people I met and their stories of challenge, hope, determination and success.
Originally, this journey was planned to represent a journey of clinical depression. Physically, I would travel to a place of isolation fraught with potential danger much like the mind retreats during a clinical depression. My purpose was to portray to people what happens when someone becomes depressed. A clinically depressed person feels isolated, helpless and without hope – they are in danger. I hoped that my journey would promote greater understanding of how mental illnesses affect people and this understanding would help to reduce the negative stigma associated with mental illness. Discussion about mental health reduces the negative stigma and those people who need help are more likely to ask for and receive help.
Those who don't know much about Clinical Depression might flippantly describe a depressed person as being " a little blue;" "unmotivated" ; or by some similar characterization. They don't realize that depressed people actually have an illness that is beyond their control. This illness is caused by a chemical imbalance –their bodies do not produce the correct amounts of hormones. The illness may be triggered by any number of things but the base cause is chemical imbalance. The social stigma attached to mental illnesses often extends to victims of depression and reduces their self esteem. The mental stresses may also result in physical ailments such as stomach pains, insomnia, memory loss and other issues. Depressed people can become very isolated. Alone, in pain and turmoil, they lose perspective and their behavior can become inappropriate and self destructive. . Feeling powerless and isolated, they may "self medicate" abusing alcohol and drugs which can lead to financial difficulty, family strife, legal problems and a much different life than what could have been.
We have much to learn about mental health. Experts tell us that our knowledge of mental health today is equivalent to what we knew about cancer fifty years ago. We have learned about some of the causes, triggers and treatments for mental illnesses. We have learned about linkages between various illnesses and genetic sources. We have not found cures but we have found strategies to help people manage their illness. We are learning how important it is to talk openly and non-judgementally about illnesses like depression to eliminate the negative stigma and that was the purpose of my journey.
My goal was to draw attention to the plight of clinical depression and other mental illnesses; to increase awareness and hopefully, help to change attitudes and understanding which will make life’s journey a little easier for people who currently have a pretty rough ride.
I have always believed that greater interest in a project or event is created if people are personally invested in a project. If you’ve spent money on something, you will watch more closely to learn the outcome. With that in mind, I am asking each of you to donate and to tell your friends about this project.….invest to show your interest for this worthy cause. The money will all go directly to F.O.R.C.E Society for Kids Mental Health, an excellent organization providing education, advocacy, support and assistance to help individuals and families on their journey to health. The trip, publicity and my time, is my donation; please join me to support the eradication of negative stigma associated with mental illness.