Blaine Chicoine is riding on June 26th to fulfill the last wish of his beautiful wife, Rose: support mental health.
Rose suffered three bouts of depression before succumbing to the illness in November of 2014. But as Blaine describes, she was so much more than her depression. She was a wonderful wife, mother, friend and nurse. He lights up when he talks about her.
“She was a fun loving, outgoing person,” he explains. “She had this knack with people. Everyone that met her loved her instantly.”
He smiles as he recalls memories of her “mischievous streak.”
“She loved to pull pranks on people. She was continuously jerking my chain,” says Blaine, laughing. “I would come downstairs to put on my shoes, and my laces would be knotted together.”
The two were married for 25 years, and he describes Rose as his other half. They would do all kinds of activities together; cycling, running, traveling, and they always supported each other through thick and thin.
“We had that relationship that people strive to get,” he says. “We truly loved each other.”
On the outside, Rose was fit and healthy. She ran marathons, and enjoyed many outdoor activities and sports. Her healthy exterior made it hard to imagine the struggle that she was facing within, but she wanted it that way. Due to the stigma that surrounds mental illness, she hid her depression.
“She swore me to secrecy about being sick but, had more people known about her condition and supported her through it, she may well still be here,” Blaine says, in explaining one of the reasons his family is riding this year.
Rose’s third and last bout of depression hit in October of 2014, and Blaine stood beside her through her difficult journey. Unfortunately, Rose was never able to find the help she needed, and took her life on November 19, 2014.
“I protected her from everything that I could, but ultimately, I couldn’t protect her from herself and that’s the thing that really destroyed me,” he says.
Blaine explains that, although they made a huge effort, the gaps in the mental health system made access to proper supports extremely difficult.
“Wait times to gain access to psychiatrists of close to a year are unacceptably long,” he explains. “More funding is needed to provide support, access to health care specialists and improved care centres for mental health patients.”
Now, along with his children and sister-in-law, Blaine is fulfilling Rose’s final request by raising funds and awareness for mental health through Ride Don’t Hide – Calgary. His team, Rose’s Riders, has already raised almost $12,000 to go towards mental health programming and supports in the city.