On August 14th I will be completing a 100km inline skate in an event I am calling “Inline For The Mind”, to raise money for The Robbie Dean Centre.
My reasons are varied, personal and many but mainly;
To raise awareness of the link between mental health, exercise and nutrition.
To shine a light on first responder mental stress injuries.
In recognition of funeral directors as the last first responder.
To draw attention to somatic responses in relation to stress.
My story is one of many but not one that I’m completely comfortable sharing. In saying this, I feel compelled to share it, have something positive come of it, and give back to a place that has helped me so much.
The Robbie Dean Centre is a free counseling service offered in the Ottawa Valley, whose counselors are phenomenal. It provides support to individuals struggling who don’t have the financial means to obtain help.
I have been a licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer for 18 years and a 911 dispatcher for EMS and Fire for 11 years. I have seen, heard, touched, and been involved with some pretty traumatic, heavy experiences.
As a result, I found myself struggling with mental health. I didn’t have benefits to cover the cost of therapy (when I returned from my leave of absence, I lost my benefits from my other job and wasn’t allowed to get benefits with my current employer unless I got married or had a child as listed on their change of circumstance).
I sought out the help of Robbie Dean Centre and was matched with my counselor, who literally changed my life. He was the first person I spoke to about what was going on with me that actually “got it”.
For those that know me, know I have struggled with all kinds of somatic responses to stress over the years. From sudden sensitivities to full-blown allergies to rashes and now, most recently vision loss.
In March of this year, I suffered a partial vision loss due to a build-up of cortisol on my retina caused by stress. This fluid buildup resulted in me having to be careful with the pressure in my eye so as not to cause further damage or permanent vision loss. While it has improved now in the last couple of weeks, I am still not 100% but hopeful it will rectify itself without the need for surgery.
In saying that, I was no longer allowed to do my normal exercise regiment, no weight lifting, or high impact, and my vision wasn’t good enough for me to work on my paintings, which also provided an outlet. Slower endurance was allowed and thus I began rollerblading as a means to escape. With each distance goal I gave myself, I was crushing it, and I decided to go bigger.
And thus, my goal of 100km in a day was born!
I am asking for your pledges, support and anyone who wants to join for part or all of the course (walking, running, cycling, rollerblading, scooter, whatever!), I encourage and welcome you to do so!
Route map, start time and location to be released in the coming weeks.
Photo courtesy of: LL Photography