On June 24th, 2018, thousands of Canadians from British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador will take part in the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Ride Don’t Hide, the largest mental health bike ride in Canada.
This year in Waterloo Wellington, Ashley Congi and Nicole Muschette have pledged to raise funds for Ride Don’t Hide through their THAW (Total Health and Wellness) Show at Brixton Social. Here’s what Congi has to say about mental health and Ride Don’t Hide:
12 years ago, my real struggles began. I had pain that was impossible to explain. I met doctor after doctor, have had six surgeries to date, and have missed out on so much. My surgeries were to remove dermoid cysts and endometriosis. Anyone who suffers from this knows there is no “cure;” instead, we must live with the unknown.
Being in my early twenties when I had my first surgery, I felt punished. At the time, I was alone. It felt like no one else had this problem — no one else was laying on their bathroom floor, crying and asking to die so the pain would go away.
Very long story short, I suffered. I never thought it would end; I was sure this was my life: always afraid to be in public, always wondering “why me?” Depression set in, and I was sure I would never be normal. (Normal — that’s an interesting word. When you realize that word is meaningless, you can begin to forgive yourself and start the fight back to being in charge of your own mental health.)
I was always afraid of trying new things, thinking I’m not good enough, or I don’t deserve to be happy. This is not true. I know now that we all deserve happiness, and that when given the tools needed to believe this, magic happens!
I want you to know you are not alone; it can get better, and you are so important.
Surrounding yourself with people who love and support you is key. If you don’t feel like you have those people, join a group or committee, or volunteer. All of these things have helped me keep my mind busy and my heart full.
These days, I’m busy running after my beautiful two-year-old daughter. I’ve let go of the “why me?” and focused on the “what’s next?” I hope my story gives hope to someone suffering in silence. I want you to know you are not alone; it can get better, and you are so important.
Starting the change to living your best life is the hardest part. There is no secret or timeline; it’s simply starting. Ride Don’t Hide is that: a place to start. When we come together, change is possible.
On June 24th, join us — ride for yourself, for your family and friends, for a stranger who needs you. Then celebrate yourself by joining us at Brixton Social for THAW: a Total Health and Wellness Show put together by me and my bestie. We want to show you there are so many of us going through similar challenges, and that it’s okay. We all deserve to feel safe, happy, and loved. I am proud of who I am today, and with awesome people like the Ride Don’t Hide organizers, I believe there is a change coming.
Together, let’s talk about it. Let’s stop pretending we are strong and actually be stronger — together.
I am here to start a conversation, to inspire people to talk about it.