About me

How to begin?

Inspired by an article titled ‘Cycle Path to Happiness‘ by the talented Simon Usborne in the Independent in December 2012, I acquired an old (and I mean old) bicycle with the sole intention of cycling myself happy.

After several years of low mood, resulting in me losing my job, my relationship (with a beautiful, beautiful girl who really, really deserved better) and my home, I ended up in my hometown of Sheffield with the ‘Black Dog’ sitting bastard-like at my heels. Alone and embarrassed to tell anyone how I was feeling, I very quickly became very unwell. Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t for one second claim to have found the answer to the seriously complex enigma of recovering from mental ill-health, but I have found a way, on occasions, to feel better, and that’s a good start.

Both the short and long-term benefits of regular exercise are immense and they apply to everyone. If you’re not regularly doing something that requires you move around under your own steam, then you’re probably making excuses. That might sound a bit harsh, but if you or your children are carrying a lot of extra weight, then you need to try and change it, for their sakes if nothing else.

It is far better to build strong children than to repair broken men and women.

I’m the first person that’ll admit that i’m a classic example someone who is guilty of putting things off and leaving things until they get serious. My fault. But also my responsibility to try and put it right.

Mental ill-health, by it’s very nature, sometimes makes physical exercise very difficult. It’s never easy – even I can’t always manage it, but if you can find that spark, somewhere deep inside, you’ll be really glad that you did.

Enough evangelism for now. Let me start by telling you how I got ‘on my bike’ to help me feel better…

UPDATE: I’ve moved on considerably since I first wrote this. I now have a small collection of bicycles. A mountain bike, an pedal-assist bike (for ‘yellow’ days when I only have the life force of a gerbil) and a lightweight road bike. Read ‘Rolling‘…

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25 thoughts on “About me

  1. Thank you for recently stopping by my blog and liking my current post. I appreciate your time and I hope that you find other reasons to visit in the future. I am slowing beginning to understand more and more about mental issues. Having a terminal diease has played havoc on my head. I turned to writing, and it has helped me considerably. I took a look at some of your other writing and I know I will visit you again. Please take care, and be safe. — Bill

  2. Blessings to you and this part of your journey. Winston Churchill, carrying his black dog, helped to win WWII. Abraham Lincoln’s ‘melancholy’ gave him the greatness to be the leader the United States needed during the 4 years of our Civil War. I also work to fight the stigma and know of its difficulty, but there is hope…always hope.

  3. You are an inspiration. Looking forward to reading more about your adventures, I know you will inspire me on low days to just get moving!

  4. Thank you.

    I am very grateful for your kind and supportive comments.
    This morning, I made a stencil and spray painted three words onto my bike. Just three small but powerful words…
    DON’T GIVE UP.

  5. I really like the attitude you got towards life, specially loved the 3 words you wrote on your bicycle 🙂
    Thank you for linking a post on my blog.

  6. oh FANTASTIC! Not the low mood but that you found me so I could find you! I literally can’t ride a bike, I tried 3 years ago and bought a brand newy and my father actually had to come over and hold the back of the seat while I wobbled and fell, wobbled and fell. I was 31…

    I will follow your journey as you have been so lovely to follow mine and I can already tell it’s going to be fun and relevant keeping up with you and your pushy in life xo

    • And I do want to make mention, as you may have seen in my own blog I completely GET how hard it is to get help. It’s a self perpetuating cycle of misery that bureaucracy created and it is DANGEROUS.

  7. Hi there, I’m so excited that your name was drawn in the celebration of my 500th view on my blog! I’m delighted to be giving a donation to a Non Profit Organisation of your choice per the draw details contained on this page at my blog: http://ea5t.wordpress.com/celebrating-my-community-of-followers/ I didn’t want to spam your post with a link.. but either I’m going mad or there’s no email contact for you on this site. Feel free to disapprove this comment, I just needed to get in touch so you can let me know who the $50 goes to! I couldn’t be more happy that the winner was someone so vocal about mental health concerns with a positive voice in our community both online and offline – I’m grinning ear to ear! I’ll be sure to profile what you do and promote your blog in my post announcing the winner and your chosen NPO. Cheers Kris

    • Hi Kris. i’m flabbergasted. I never win anything…
      Thank you so much for your kind ‘prize’. I would like very much to give the money to Rethink.org, a UK charity that fights tirelessly for people with mental ill health and disability. They run some of the hardest hitting campaigns against social injustice, and are bastions of hope against the fearsome budget cuts that the current UK government are imposing on many of the already hardest hit groups. They will make good use of the money, i’m sure. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Best wishes from Mark – PedalPower65.

  8. Liking the blog. Keep up the good work and the cycling. As I’m finding inspiring blogs hard to find I put a link to here from my blog in case anyone stumbles accross mine, I trust that’s ok.

  9. Howdy! Thanks for liking my blog http://www.bipolarlessons.com Your blog looks interesting as well.

    As an aside, I am so grateful that in the US we do not have these tests that you are talking about. My case has been reviewed a couple of times but was never even interviewed. They went by my past history and probably contacted my psychiatrist as well.

    Another nice thing we have is work incentives, which means that I was allowed to work part-time and still keep my benefits. For some people the government uses this as a trial work period to see if they are able to handle working. If they can’t work then they still have the safety net of disability entitlements.

    But all is not sunshine and lolly-pops here as our wonderful politicians in both parties are talking about cuts to Social Security (for the elderly and disabled) and Medicare (government insurance), which is attached to Social Security.

    This of course concerns me especially since I have also developed fibromyalgia which is actually the reason why I am not working now. I haven’t contacted Social Security about that but I am still on it because of my bipolar disorder.

    Anyway keep up the good fight in getting fair treatment and good luck with your recovery and blog!

    Mary 😉

  10. I really like your blog and your spirit (about biking) and would like to learn more about the disability test for people with mental health issues. I followed your links to a petition but would like to learn the background and see the test. I live in Canada and am embarrassed to say that I don’t even know what our test is like here.

    Biking sounds like a healthy thing to do, and restorative. I can’t bike due to MS but I walk in the woods nearby as often as I can. It’s rainy season here now in British Columbia, which means that it’s really more of a slide through the woods but that’s okay.

    How do I follow your blog? I don’t see a “follow me” button

  11. Pedal Power, firstly thank you for visiting my blog and liking the post “Cycling on the Aran Islands”, it is really appreciated. Your ‘about’ page contains so much honesty and courage I cannot help but like it. As someone who has suffered from traumatic events that has left a mental scar I can only be filled with admiration. It seems that you have made a great start and have the strength to come out of this and be who you really are. I wish you well on a tough, but rewarding and fulfilling journey. MM 🍀

  12. About 25 years ago I bought a bicycle. Not long afterwards I had number of coincidental family tragedies, which hit me very hard and quickly descended into a depressive state. As my studies and relationships fell apart (more correct to say that they became irrelevant to me) cycling and my job became the only things of importance. (Bizarrely, my job involved representing and helping people!)
    Cycling was a way to connect to reality that seemed distant in other aspects of my life. Generally these were pleasant and carefree journeys. Though on one occasion I was overcome with fear and rage and charged up a hill with unnatural speed. (Where was Strava?)
    Cycling didn’t solve my issues. But it did give me a focus where those issues were put in their proper place for at least a few moments each day.
    (My use of the term “mental anguish” in my current blog post http://templeblot.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/mental-anguish-from-a-lack-of-riding/ about not cycling for 3 weeks is insultingly trivial when compared to what I was going through 25 years ago.)
    I haven’t had a depressive episode in 15 years, and none as bad as my original. I can’t ascribe that to cycling since I’ve really only been back on this year after a 10-year hiatus. My sadness on a Monday morning after a weekend of riding is a different sort of illness. 🙂
    Bradley

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