We met on Tinder - now we're cycling around the world for Mind
Mike and Helen blog about how their round the world cycle is going and what inspired them to do it.
Helen and Mike both have experience of depression. In April 2017 they set off on an adventure to cycle around the world.
When we both swiped right on Tinder nineteen months ago we wouldn't have thought we'd be cycling around the world together.
Helen and I met on Tinder in Glasgow in January 2016. Today we're riding our bikes all the way around the world, raising money and awareness for Mind as we go. We set off in Glasgow in April 2017 and are currently in racing through China. We've cycled over 7000km so far and have about 30,000km left to go.
Cycling around a planet is hard, really hard. We've experienced mountain passes, endless flats, blistering heat and blizzards, and we've only just hit Asia.
"We wanted to do such a momentous challenge to show that people with mental health problems can still do amazing things."
Both of us have experienced depression and for us it was so important to be able to speak to friends and family honestly about how we were feeling. Because we talked about it we had the confidence to ask for help, including counselling. We were fortunate enough to have supportive people around us, but we know others may not be so lucky.
Physically it is very challenging – neither of us were in amazing shape when we left. We were both working a number of jobs and planning the trip took a lot of time too, so we didn't have much time for training. It's mentally tough as well. We've both been extremely self-critical in the past but we're learning to be kinder to ourselves, and about ourselves, every day.
For us to be able to carry on we've needed a new way of thinking and a change in perspective. We're putting our bodies and minds through extreme tests day after day and we need to give ourselves credit for that.
"There's no better way of finding out what you're capable of than accomplishing a dream and pushing yourself to your limit."
Thankfully we have each other, and wouldn't want to do it by ourselves, though we know we'd be able to.
We cycled across Europe in eleven weeks and will cycle over to Malaysia by Christmas. Our journey will take us across Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada before returning to Western Europe to finish our trip around August 2018. Once we're home, it's unlikely we'll stop moving and are already planning future trips together at home and abroad.
So far while we've been cycling we've been pretty self-reliant but still need the kindness of strangers from time to time, from little things like asking for a place to camp to sharing meals and invitations to join their families for an evening. The people we're meeting along our journey have shown us the natural good will you find everywhere, even if the language barriers make verbal conversation impossible.
Already we know we want to be more thoughtful people when we return. Day to day life can make you quite hard to strangers or other peoples' needs, especially with the media only showing all the bad in the world. We want to share our positive experiences to encourage others to not be afraid to be selfless. All of these moments we experience help us to be kinder to ourselves and propel us along the way to better mental health.
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