The reason for using this walk to support mental health charities, and the campaign against stigma, is that I have personal experience of coping with depression. In fact I am one of the one in four of us who suffer from a diagnosable mental health problem at some point in our lives, most commonly depression or anxiety. Indeed in many ways I am typical of those one in four in that I have a successful career and have learned to cope with depressive episodes, to the extent of them being invisible to third parties (if not to my friends and loved ones!).
Yet as a society we are still wary of mental illness, with a tendency to fall back on stereotypical views and a reluctance to talk about mental health with the same openness that we might for physical illnesses.
Part of the project in walking around the edge of Britain is using my own experience to speak out for all those who struggle in silence with mental health problems, as well as raising funds for charities that offer support and who campaign against mental health stigma.
A little bit more about us:
In my fifties now, I’m following my second career as a teacher of physics and mathematics after many years in the electronics industry designing mobile phones and inkjet printers.
My wife Kate has been a key part of these walks, especially with looking after PR and fundraising activities. As well as joining me from time to time on the walk. Kate runs her own training and development business (www.kateatkin.com) as well as studying for a masters degree in positive psychology.
Poppy is our Springer Spaniel who walked with me, probably covering at least twice the distance I did, with all of her scampering around. Poppy hails from Lincolnshire and was trained as a gun dog, but at the sight of pheasants she completely forgot to listen to commands so she became our family pet instead. She now seems convinced that the human race exists just to fuss her and has developed a dewy-eyed puppy-dog look that almost always attracts the attention she thinks she deserves.