Hopewalk completed!

HOPEWALK is a PAPYRUS event that takes place every October to raise vital funds for suicide prevention and to smash the stigma around suicide.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people under 35 in the UK. PAPYRUS is the national charity for the prevention of young suicide and believes that many young suicides are preventable. They operate HOPELINEUK, a confidential call, text, and email helpline for young people with thoughts of suicide or those concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide. Every £5 raised can help pay for a potentially life-saving contact to HOPELINEUK from a young person wanting to stay safe from their thoughts of suicide.

I decided to complete my Hopewalk as a way to raise money for Papyrus: Prevention of Young Suicide for a couple of reasons: I and many people I know have lost loved ones to suicide, and, I suffer with depression and anxiety myself. I have been in the situation where I felt there was no other way out. Thankfully I got the help I needed, I’m still here and I want to do as much as I can to help other people in need, whether it’s raising money, donating my time, or just raising awareness and encouraging people to reach out.

After a couple weeks struggling with chronic pain and fatigue, I did hardly any prep for my fundraising walk. I knew I’d physically be able to complete it but it was going to be tough and I’d be very sore at the end of it (and probably for a couple days after too).

The day drew closer and the weather got more gloomy and wet, Storm Alex was pushing strong winds and rain into southern England.

My mental health was taking a bit of a dive, as I’m sure you know when your physical health is bad it affects your mental health, and vice versa. It felt like the gloomy weather was taking over on the inside.

The big day arrived and my dad very kindly drove me and the dog to our location AND did the walk with us (I wouldn’t have made it alone).

We walked along the canal, there were some kayakers and people canoeing when we started but as the rain started hammering down on us they swiftly disappeared. Charlie (the dog) was continuously trying to dive in the canal for a swim which slowed us down a bit but was funny to see as he used to be scared of the water.

My shower proof jacket was no match for the downpour so less than twenty minutes into the walk I was soaked through. I’d lost my waterproof trousers years ago and forgot to replace them so just had jeans on that were now clinging to me like you would not believe. My walking boots were holding up pretty well so at least my feet were dry and comfortable.

It was quite peaceful walking along just the three of us in the rain, I think we saw two other walkers the entire time we were out.

Though the walk was to raise money and awareness I had no real plans to discuss anything serious but I did end up talking about a lot of things with my dad. IBS, the pain and fatigue I suffer from because of it, the various medications I’ve been on, am currently taking and ones I refuse to take.

We talked about my depression, my suicidal thoughts, how important it is to be open about these things so that people can try to understand and potentially help. Over the years I’ve become more and more open about my struggles, trying to normalise it so other people understood me more and also so that if they were struggling, they’d be more comfortable opening up or asking for help.

I don’t remember exactly how far into the route it was, a bit more than halfway I think.. but we stopped to visit a beautiful working windmill! You can take tours and buy flour but obviously that’s not what we were there for, and it was closed that day anyway.

My dad convinced me to clamber up the steps and pose for a pic, the dog clearly felt left out.

We took the opportunity to have a little rest, shared some mini cheddars with Charlie (be rude not to, he was doing the walk too!) and I had a snickers to keep my energy up, ..or cause they are delicious and I was hungry, either way.

It was at this point after stopping for a little while I realised how cold and wet I really was, and noticed that my walking boots had finally succumbed to the rain and puddles and I was essentially carrying around two little pools in my shoes!

I made use of the portaloo which is being cleaned and sanitised daily thanks to the workers for all of us visitors, and it took just as long pulling up my thoroughly soaked undies and jeans as it had to eat and rest. The joys of trekking in the rain 🙂

The rest of the walk we talked about our own personal struggles with overeating, binge drinking and family members who are also experiencing issues. It was quite a steep hill to walk down and though I slipped in the mud a few times I thankfully stayed on my feet.

Once we were back alongside the canal I realised we were almost done and felt a surge of relief and then pride. I’d done it, I was sore, wet and tired but we’d done it in a fairly reasonable time and I still had the afternoon and evening to do what I wanted (this turned out to be a hot shower, putting on my fleece pjs, ordering food and chilling on the sofa with the dog).

Finished!

I set a fairly small target of £100 as I wasn’t sure I’d even get that with everything that’s going on in the world at the moment and didn’t want anyone to feel pressured into donating. I’m not embarrassed to admit I’ve been moved to tears on more than one occasion at the messages of support and donations that I have received and want to thank every one for being so amazing.

If you’d still like to donate my link is below 🙂

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jen-stopthestigma

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