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Rowing the Atlantic for mental health

Wednesday, 13 January 2021 Harry, Alex, Ed and Tom

Harry, Alex, Ed and Tom blog about rowing 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to Antigua to raise money for charities including Mind.

We have been preparing for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge for 2 years as this is a race like no other across one of the world's most dangerous oceans. Enduring sleep deprivation, dehydration, huge calorie deficits, hallucinations, salt sores, 60ft waves and physical and mental exhaustion as we navigate our way across one of the busiest shipping zones in the world.

This is one of the biggest endurance challenges in the world. Fitness is only 15% of it – the rest is mental resilience and endurance.

Additional barriers

Some of us have had additional barriers to overcome. Ed lives with arthritis and had to fit a fridge to the boat so he can store his medications. And Harry has suffered with mental health issues, hitting rock bottom 3 years ago. One of his problems, he says, is that he was too 'manly', stubborn and proud to get the help he needed for far too long. Having finally got the support and guidance he so desperately needed in the form of therapy and medication has had a hugely positive impact on his life.

We are passionate about using our row as a platform to drive better awareness of mental health.

Sport of course, is such a high reliever of stress and helps immensely with mental health and physical health, especially when being sat at a desk all day. Be it personally or as a team, we're hugely passionate about using our row as a platform to drive better awareness of, and tackle the stigma around, mental health. We want to enhance people's understanding of the impact mental wellbeing can have within them, but also beyond them with their family and friends.

We tend to hide behind social media - but the truth of the matter is, for many it's just a façade, hiding the real truth. The happiest looking people could actually be the ones crying out for help.

Battling the waves and sea sickness

We have now been 4 weeks at sea, battling huge waves, seasickness, sleep deprivation, pain, less than ideal weather conditions and some emergencies, such as running out of power on our batteries! Despite all this, we remain positive and determined to complete the race.

No matter what, we never give up (or in this case slow down, argue, moan or not try).

It reminds us of why we are doing this – for those men, women and children facing battles of their own.

This is what we are here for – to place ourselves in a tough and unforgiving situation to test our physical and mental strength to the limit.

Why are we doing this?

It reminds us of why we are doing this – for those men, women and children facing battles of their own. If we can begin to understand the mental difficulties many people face on a daily basis, by some of the challenges we face here, hopefully then our story becomes more pertinent and we can help change this global stigma on mental health.

Be it anxiety, depression, isolation, domestic violence, substance abuse, eating disorders, financial stress or grief, the mental health impacts of Covid 19 are unimaginable and will outlast the virus. We are determined as ever to support those whose mental wellbeing is suffering each day.

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Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.

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