I haven’t blogged for a while and have chosen this platform to say thank you to some amazing people.
Just Got Back
We’re just back from a weekend that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. One that I’m only just beginning to come to terms with. I joined a team of friends to climb Mount Snowdon raising money for AndysManClub. A group of colleagues from Oldham Community Leisure, 3 friends, my wife Nicky and with guides Alan and Gaynor Keane from Uprojects. We spent the weekend together, climbed the highest mountain in Wales at 3560ft above sea level.
Climbing Snowdon has been an ambition of mine for years.
Those who know me will no doubt know my story, I’ve lived with depression and anxiety (plus other diagnosed conditions) for around 9 years. I won’t allow these conditions to define or limit me. Mid-2017 I was rapidly heading towards another breakdown. My intense and competitive personality led me to a dark place that I knew too well. I had to take time off work to figure out how to get better. The first night I read a retweet from my friend about AndysManClub Oldham; a talking group for men aimed at suicide prevention. Being desperate to fix myself and my refusal to self-medicate with anti-depressants (at my GP’s recommendation) I decided to visit AMC. Possibly the best decision I’ve made in years.
Who was it for?
AndysManClub and friends who attend have changed my life for the better. A place we can talk openly to other guys, without judgement, a place where I feel normal again, with others who just “get it”. Over the past year, my mental health has improved dramatically as I’ve learned so much about myself and mental health. #itsokaytotalk means that we can get things off our chest, focus on positive strategies and gratitude for all aspects of our lives. There are now thousands of guys around the country who meet on Monday nights. This is no exaggeration; I have seen this group save lives.
I am eternally indebted for my friend’s retweet. The same friend also suggested that I run the Milltown Half Marathon, a crazy idea for a guy who couldn’t run. Plantar Fasciitis, shin splints, overweight and a little issue of crippling anxiety and paranoia meant that there was no way I’d consider such a challenge. However, my weakness is that I simply cannot say no to a challenge. I started with Parkruns with new friends from AMC. 12 months later I am addicted to running, you physically cannot be depressed when exercising. I suppose there are worse addictions.
So this year I decided to set a bigger challenge than ever before to raise awareness of bigger issues and funds for those who need all the help possible. I dreamt up the idea of “18 in 18” – 18 challenges in 2018. One of those challenges was to climb Mount Snowdon, in fact, it was number 10 of 18.
Why Blog and Not Just Say “Thank You”?
We had such a great weekend and I have such deep gratitude to those involved I felt I needed to explain in this post. I’ve also begun to reflect on the event and I’ve realised a few things. More importantly, if I did this face to face I would probably get tearful and embarrass myself.
Firstly, without my wife Nicky I simply wouldn’t be here. Nicky has always been there for me, through thick and thin. She climbed Snowdon despite being in lots of musculoskeletal pain from Sciatic nerve issues. It was a massive challenge for her because of the various aches and pains prior to the weekend. I love you so much.
Alan and Gaynor from Uprojects led the group so well wonderfully. Gaynor was already a hero of mine. I’ve been fascinated with runners, especially fell runners, especially those who’ve completed the Bob Graham Challenge. Gaynor is possibly the fittest person I have met. However, I know Gaynor from Healthwatch who address the serious health issues in our community. And there’s Alan, what a guy, quit his job to follow his passion, similar to Gaynor; to show people how to enjoy the outdoors safely through mountaineering and rock climbing. They both were so friendly, helpful and felt like a part of our team of friends. I really hope to stay in touch.
The team at Oldham Community Leisure. All inspirational women who gave up their weekend to raise money and spread awareness of AndysManClub. Here’s the main point; AMC is a MENS mental health charity. These beautiful WOMEN epitomise charity. Although AMC is for men, they realise that mental health is something we all have and need to talk openly about. It’s not all about us with a mental illness, it affects all those closest to us. When we are suffering, those around us have to deal with effects and support us too, our unsung heroes. They gave up their weekend, pushed themselves through so much pain, wore AMC clothing displaying #ITSOKAYTOTALK with pride.
THANK YOU, not only from me but from all the other “Andy’s” who attend AMC each week. I can’t tell you how humbled I am. We’re forever in your debt.
Beardy, Joe and Billy, I love you guys. You camped in a field of mostly women and displayed no ego, seamlessly fitted in with some awkward female only conversations (what’s said around the campfire stays around the campfire) dedicated their time in return for blisters, strains and pains without any complaints.
My friend who gives her own time to bring people together selflessly. She demonstrates humility and respect for everyone.
Kelly Tattersall THANK YOU. Without you, I wouldn’t know about AMC and this weekend simply would not have happened. You made more awareness, more fundraising, more fun and you made memories for us all. Kelly your heart and soul is creating a legacy and changing lives, not least mine.
This weekend wasn’t about remembering the pain and sadness that mental illness caused. It was about making a positive difference to so many lives.
My faith in humanity has been restored by everyone involved in making this weekend one of the happiest and most humbling experiences of my life.