Talking about mental health isn't easy. Talking about your own struggles with mental health is even harder. But it's also important. It removes the stigma and sends a message — you're not alone.
In addition to donating all UNITY 2023 proceeds to NGOs with a focus on mental health, Velocio is also highlighting ambassadors who are willing to speak up about their own mental health journey.
Velocio Ambassador Jack Thompson, aka Jack Ultra Cyclists, discusses his own experiences below.Explore UNITY 2023
I’ve struggled with Depression and an Obessive Compulsive Personality Disorder for the best part of 20 years. While I’m in a far better place now than I was 15 years ago, I still have my ups and downs, the difference being that I now recognize when I’m feeling down and have a series of tools that I implement to help steer me back on track.
Cycling is a tool that I’ve used for the last 15 years to really better my mood. To begin with, I used cycling as an escape from the turmoil that I was experiencing in normal life. But more recently, it’s the goal setting and the process of working towards a given goal that gives me clarity from day to day.
The fact that cycling is a form of exercise and can be completed with mates is also a huge positive and a great way to help lift the mood in times of despair.
I’ve found that I personally need structure from day to day to give me a sense of purpose and cycling provides that. I have structure in the form of training, in the form of nutrition, in the form of relaxation and that keeps me feeling as though I’m achieving something.
A lot of the battle is in educating the younger generation. I think the professional athletes at the top of their game can be instrumental in helping to educate youngsters. By talking about their ups and downs it normalizes the fact that people suffer.
Cyclists are seen as heroes because they can ‘suffer’ on the bike, so let’s apply the same principles to somebody suffering in life. Let’s not look down upon them, let’s look up to them as strong individuals going through a period of change and encourage them to continue their fight.
Everybody suffers, and suffering through a dark period is very much normal and ok. I’d also point out the importance of sharing feelings with a friend or loved one. My father once told me, ‘a problem shared, is a problem halved,’ and this is so true when it comes to mental health and lifting the weight from one’s own shoulders.