I have been a volunteer for the Ride Don’t Hide since the first Calgary ride in 2014. For the past three years, I have been the Volunteer Lead on the Ride Don’t Hide Committee. In this role, I am responsible for organizing and communicating with volunteers before and on the day of the event. For me, being able to speak with other volunteers about why they feel passionate about mental health has been an invaluable learning experience.
Growing up, I did not know or understand very much about the issues and stigmas regarding mental health. I had heard many stories about my grandfather (who I was never able to meet) and his struggles with bipolar disorder. I knew that anxiety and depression was very common among a lot of my family and relatives but never witnessed it firsthand.
It wasn’t until someone very close to me began suffering from bipolar (mania) that I began to understand the struggles that face those who suffer every day. Attempting to admit them into the psychiatric unit at the hospital proved to be a huge obstacle. Even though they were willing to be admitted, the hospital wasn’t able to verify that there was a mental health issue occurring. Luckily, on the second attempt, the hospital finally admitted him. When visiting the psychiatric ward, I was able to connect with other people suffering through similar situations. Throughout this experience, I saw a world that opened my eyes to mental health issues.
After this experience, I became very passionate about the world of mental health and wanted to help out in any way I could. This is how I found the CMHA and the opportunity to volunteer on the Ride Don’t Hide Committee. Being part of this ride and seeing it grow every year has been a wonderful experience. The community of people that gather together and speak so openly about the world of mental health is amazing to be a part of. I have learnt so much from everyone involved in this event and I cannot wait to help out again for the June 25th ride in Calgary.