Talking about mental health isn't easy. Talking about your own struggles with mental health is even harder. But it's also important. It removes the stigma and sends a message — you're not alone.
In addition to donating all UNITY 2023 proceeds to NGOs with a focus on mental health, Velocio is also highlighting ambassadors who are willing to speak up about their own mental health journey.
Velocio Ambassador Aashild Tovsrud discusses her own experiences below.Explore UNITY 2023
Truth be told I’ve struggled as long as I can remember. Fatigue and low mood from childhood. I struggled in school and fell behind from day one. Through 13 years in school, bullying and social exclusion became a growing pain and problem. In all of the schools I went to, a student was expelled for harassment or bullying, not that it helped. The first two years of high school still haunt me. Some days were ok, other days I was thrown around in the classroom, locked in the freezer, or physically beaten up or spat on. This treatment has given me trauma and difficulties in relationships with other humans.
My every day is painted by chaos and heavy clouds of darkness surround my mind. Every day is a struggle to keep balance. Like walking on a knife’s edge. If I slip I fall into this ocean of darkness that turns even darker than I dare imagine every time it happens.
If it hadn’t been for cycling I wouldn’t be here today. It’s a cliche…
My whole life changed after I began cycling in a local club in 2016. Through cycling, I’ve gained so many great relationships and good friends. It’s given me some amazing experiences and a way of exploring the unknown. I never planned to race road, CX, and MTB on an elite level, but here I am. It feels like it all just happened so suddenly. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity it’s given me.
Through cycling, I achieved a structure and larger meaning. Training towards something and looking forward to races and events throughout the year has been a true relief. It keeps me going.
I feel like cycling is its own little community. When traveling with friends and fellow cyclists I’m often able to move the focus to the next days and the next weeks. The challenges are always with me, but somehow further away when riding my bike.
I feel like the community in general could have more focused resources on offering an active lifestyle to people with mental illnesses. This way more people could benefit from the feeling of mastering something, the community vibe, and the joy that cycling offers.
Everyone can find their thing. What gives me the pleasure of riding 150km could be something completely different for someone else. No matter what, I believe everyone can find their activity and would recommend those who seek to look for activities with a community.
Isolation and mental health do not go well together and belonging to a bigger community is very helpful. Whatever activity one chooses be sure that it can be practiced outside and in daylight as both fresh air and daylight have a positive effect on our mind. Dare to try. Being you in a community is so much greater than what you can be on your own. That’s something cycling has taught me.