RECYCLE YOURSELF

Promoting the well-being benefits of cycling.

I AM MORE THAN I EXPECTED

MY 1ST RECYCLE YOURSELF BLOG

 

So I've never really ever wrote a blog post so this will be my first, to be honest, I don't really know what a blog post is. Now I've wrote articles, press releases, hundreds of CV's, a few crappy poems however never a blog.

 

But, it's very almost a year since the worst 4 hours of my life happened, and that's saying something when prior to that I'd had to survive the death of my Mum (to a brain aneurysm) when I was 25 and she was only 44.

 

So anyway on February 18th 2018 was the day I last lost my marbles so to speak and was the moment that I decided to Recycle Myself and this start my Recycle Yourself Campaign.

 

When I started this I never intended it to become anything like the RyanRides adventures that it has become. I didn't set out with the intention of people calling me an inspiration or to become a 'mental health campaigner', I didn't want to be a fundraiser or an awareness raiser, or a cycling advocate for that matter, I just started cycling 50 miles every day for 50 days in the hope that I could reinvigorate my still only recently discovered passion for cycling, and that I could find a way to put my troubled past behind me and in my own way Recycle Myself from a depressed, often suicidal, drinking, smoking loser in to someone that could be proud and happy within himself, and I recorded it on my Facebook & Instagram pages as proof, to log the places that I had visited whilst cycling and as a reminder of that I could achieve if I put my mind to something.

 

However, as I did that and I got mentally and physically stronger I was inspiring people, I was helping others and it was helping me so I pushed on to where we are today.

 

Recycle Yourself is now getting recognition as a philosophy of exercise, inparticularly cycling, being a format of well-being. I've been on TV, on the Radio, in local and national newspapers, I've done talks at schools, businesses, a prison and at functions as well as sharing my story in a number of website articles.

 

I'm, I believe the 2nd fastest person ever (after Nick Sanders) to have cycled the entire 4800 miles of Britains coastal roads, the quickest recorded on Strava and I raised money and awareness for Mind, the mental health charity in the process of what I called RyanRidesAroundBritain.

 

And finally for now, in July this year embarking on cycling Across Europe from Nordkapp to Tarifa following the route of the great Guinness World Record making and breaking cycling legend that is Lee Fancourt (Ridgway), and for his mental health fund that will hopefully help future cyclists in their own cycling projects in the future and raise further funds and awareness for Mental Health causes.

 

Oh, not finally because the fundraising clothes range are coming along too. So, as you might gather I've gone, and it's gone so much further than I ever expected it to, but its exciting now and positive which is such a difference to that night in February when I was stood on the tracks facing down a Keighley to Skipton train.

 

The reason for me writing this blog now is because for the first time in my life I feel mostly happy and content with myself, I feel confident in my ability to deal with my mental health, and despite still having a few aspects of my life that I want to improve (mostly getting to see my son again, who I've not seen since just prior the that February night) I can't see myself returning to the dark days that I have experienced previously.

 

Through cycling and talking openly about my mental health and behavioural challenges I have, to not use the Recycled Myself term, but I have not even re-discovered myself, but almost found a brand new me.

 

Today I sit here poles apart from the man I was a year ago when I felt like I had nothing to live for and my brain could justify my suicude entirely.

 

Now I have great relationships with all of my close family, I've some amazing close friends that are supportive of me and I am to them. I've got people spread around the country (if not the world) that I can now count as friends, and I have a girlfriend that allows me to be me. She knows I'm a crazy cyclist, she knows that she will have to deal with my mad challenges and shes fine with that and so are her parents (which is a big bonus). All this has been built on the solid foundations that cycling and talking have developed.

 

Now you might say how has cycling done anything? And that I did all that myself! And yes that's true but cycling builds character, it's aids mental strength through pushing your physical and mental boundaries, it produces serotonin through exercise that improves mood and appetite, and because I'm exercising I have a regular sleeping pattern and thus I'm refreshed and ready for each day instead of being tired, lethargic and borderline depressed because I can't be arsed moving of the sofa.

 

Some people might get sick of me going on about it but until you can understand how low I was to be stood on the train tracks to the now present me being capable of cycling thousands of miles, being happy with my life and by talking and cycling also being able to provide hope, help, strength, positivity and wellbeing awareness to support other mental health and suicide survivors, not to mention inspire other cyclists are things that because of my experiences I am proud to be able to do.

 

Helping people find a way to cope with their Mental Health is something I am passionate about and I'm extremely grateful for the support I receive through my cycling to be able to get this across and raise funds and awareness of some great charitable causes, and I suppose for that I must say THANK YOU to everyone that has been involved in my Recycle Yourself Campaign, whether you are in my life now or you passed through, you've all had an impact, enough of an impact for me to write this today.

 

And as my finishing note for this first blog in going to say

 

"YOU CAN DO ANYTHING ON YOUR OWN BUT TRUST ME WHEN I SAY THAT HELP IS EVERYWHERE IN BRITAIN IF YOU LET PEOPLE KNOW YOU NEED IT.

Ryan from Recycle Yourself

******** TW: Mentions Suicide ********

 

“At the age of 30, I was first admitted to a mental health hospital ward after attempting suicide in a B&B in Blackpool. I call it my ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ moment after the film when Nicolas Cage decides to go there to drink himself to death. Eight years on, I have used the power of cycling to launch my own mental health campaign, 

Recycle Yourself. And I am training for a 4.802-mile ride around the entire coast of Britain to raise money for mental health charity Mind. Cycling works for me and I know I’m now pushing it to the extreme but ultimately my best advice to anyone with a mental health issue is that medication is only one course of treatment – there is so much that you can do yourself to improve your mindfulness, well-being and ways of coping. Many of these ‘tools’ I have developed thanks to the mental health voluntary sector. A solution is out there, you might need to seek it out a bit more in the short term but help is available. I can now look back to when I was as young as 17 and recall moments of suicidal thoughts, and now notice longstanding issues with my behaviour and my unorthodox way of coping with stress and emotion.

 

Looking back, I was rarely happy being myself and often tried to run away from any problems hoping that I could escape them not knowing that the real problem was actually me. Not knowing anything about mental health and there being none of the online or social media sources of information, I was unaware that it could have been a mental health issue and instead I just put the blame down to me being a ‘bad’ person. 

 

When I was 24, I lost my mum to a brain aneurysm. I think that until recently, I hadn’t grieved properly for her, instead reverting to running away. Just as I had run away to live and work in Dublin when I was 18 and under pressure, after my mum’s death I went to Greece. My suicide attempt in Blackpool had followed a relationship breakdown and after some sporadic treatment and a few years of relative happiness, which led to the birth of a son, things seemed to be under control. But when this relationship, too, hit the rocks and became a year-long break-up, I had a run-in with police and continued with the same pattern of running away. I knew my son needed his father, though, and returned to West Yorkshire. However, the stress of a court custody case again led to me feeling tormented, and I was isolating himself, drunk and again suicidal, when I accidentaly stumbled upon a men’s mental health and suicide prevention group, Andy’s Man Club, one Monday night in January 2017 in Hebden Bridge.

 

Things then started to make sense. I adopted the club’s #itsokaytotalk motto, spoke openly and listened to other men with similar issues and realised I wasn’t alone and that many men were and are suffering in the same way. All the signs were always there to show that I frequently struggled, that I repeatedly got myself into trouble and that suicide or escaping and drinking was my way out, I was being ‘triggered’ by situations that I often caused in a self-destructive or spontaneous moment that would spiral out of my control due to illogical thinking. At Andy’s Man Club I felt true empathy, understanding and it really changed my attitude to life.

 

From here I had a better year and found my passion for cycling.

 

In 2017 I started riding to work (a 20 mile round trip, five times a week) and the odd social ride with friends. This led me on to participating in a 120-mile, two-day mental health awareness ride with Andy’s Man Club; then came a 10-hour, 271 km fundraising event for The British Red Cross; and next an eight-day, 1,036 mile fundraising cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats again on behalf of Andy’s Man Club and youth homeless charity Centrepoint UK. Things were going well. I still had problems in the background which included a police investigation and a family court hearing which caused additional ongoing stresses and emotional instability, but with my new-found strength, energy, hobby, a better relationship with family and friends, and better well-being due to his greater understanding of myself and the discovery of my reliable well-being tool, cycling, I coped.

 

Cycling seemed to work for me instantly.

 

I’ve always been quite a sporty person, I played football regularly when I was younger and enjoyed playing tennis and swimming, for example. I was an active person and cycling provided that physicality. What I didn’t realise at first is that it also suppressed my need to escape because I was riding to different places and having the time to reassess my thoughts whilst I was in a positive place and not a negative ‘drunk’ mindset. Only in February this year, though, some serious life events led to four hours of madness. I wrote a suicide note and status on Facebook in anger and ended up on a train track.

 

It was at that moment I realised I needed to Recycle Myself and really focus on making some changes to myself and my mind because my suicidal thoughts and actions were getting worse, when I let them consume me. So I got my bike out and set about rediscovering my well-being. In March 2018 I set up Recycle Yourself by cycling 50 miles every day for 50 days. I wanted to do something to really get myself into a routine of cycling each day and to prove that if you do put your mind and body to something that it can be done, and I did it, and towards the middle to end it felt easy. I’d cycled from my home town of Keighley to York, Sheffield, Morecambe, the Lake District, Oldham and more and I inspired people to cycle – or to run or draw because they had to find what works for them. They too saw the benefit in having a wellness tool which was amazing. I had made a positive difference to others. Then from this I wanted to see if I could spread this positivity further.

 

And this is why in October 2018 I will be setting off from Blackpool on a 4,802 like trip around the closest coastal roads of Britain on a mental health fundraising and awareness ride that if successful could lead to me being a World Record holder.”

 

You can follow Ryan’s journey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.