So I’ve had a lot of people asking me why I’m doing this trip.
In a nutshell, it’s because, like a huge number of you, I’ve been touched by depression. I’ve lost people that I didn’t even know were hurting, and I’ve been hit hard by the consequences.
In an ideal world, I, and all of you, will never (or never again) have to feel that deep feeling of loss and hopelessness that comes with losing a friend or family member to 'the Blues'. What I want to do along with you all, is to take that first step (and the subsequent 5,330,000 or so) to making depression something that doesn’t have to be an individual battle.
One of the great things about this project is the conversations that I’ve already had. It can be a tough topic to talk about, especially when the subject is so powerful to so many people. But, the first step to changing the way we look at depression is making it less of an uncomfortable topic. It can be crazy scary admitting that you’re not ok. However, the more we talk about it, the more we can create an environment where people feel safe enough to ask for help and learn from each other about the best way to provide support.
Support can come in a variety of different forms - and it doesn't have to be verbal. If you think about that old saying "Actions speak louder than words"; damn right they do (don't get me wrong, words are great too)! Just being there for someone or a random act of kindness can absolutely change someone's day. I know I've had my day changed by something seemingly small, and I'm sure you can all think of a time where you've had a similar experience!
ACTION ITEM: What I’d love for you all to do is to talk to one person about depression (or more if you like). If you need a segway into the conversation, bring it up by asking "hey, did you hear about that crazy girl that's riding her horse 5000km/3ooomiles up the side of Australia??" If that doesn't work, try "hey, how freaking cute is this horse that takes a million naps".
Once you have their attention, discuss whatever you want. It could be what it is that makes it such an uncomfortable topic, ways you could help someone that was struggling (support, activities, distractions, chicken nuggets…find out what could made a difference to those around you), or hypothetically, if you were feeling that way, what would stop you from seeking help. Ask questions and most importantly, listen to the answers! Then if you want to, talk to someone else and learn about how you can best support the people in your own personal circle.
You all have so much more influence than you could ever imagine! This is a team effort! Y’all are amazing!