My name is Tanya Sealock and this is my 4th year riding in the Ride Don’t Hide event. This year, I put a team together called Supportive Circles.
I ride to honour my brother, Darren Clark, who died by suicide on April 5, 2015. Darren struggled for years with addiction and mental health challenges. When things were at their darkest moments, Darren spoke about the ‘demons’ inside his head who would not be quiet.
Another struggle for Darren was access to resources and care. There were times through his journey when he would reach out and say he needed help. Asked desperately for it. Not always, but at times during crisis when he sought professional support, he was told he would have to wait for programs and/or care. Either he wasn’t’ ‘bad enough’, the services available were saturated, or he didn’t present as textbook “immediate harm to self or others”.
As well, over the years at times, Darren learned quickly what the professionals wanted to hear and what the appropriate answers should be, if he didn’t want to stay in care, or felt there was an ultimatum situation and he was being forced into care. This was also part of the illness. His ability to manipulate situations to his favor and what he felt he needed, though not the healthy decision. As a family, we learned quickly that the systems and facilities just didn’t have enough professional support to give the time really needed to do a thorough assessment of the patient, and equally as important…talk to the families living with the individual. Hear their perspectives and perceptions. I believe this is a vital part of assessment, especially when dealing with an addictive personality or mental illness.
After we lost Darren, I vowed to be the voice. For those that feel they can’t speak up or feel they won’t be heard. For those that don’t feel they are worth it. I ride to bring awareness. To educate. To speak out about the need for more resources and programs. I ride to evoke positive change in the way we think, feel and approach mental health.