Over the last 12 to 18 months, Richard, 42, has been living with anxiety. This gripped his life in a way that he never thought possible. During his struggles, Richard called us, at the Sanctuary, for support overnight. Now, on his road to recovery, he’s blogging for us about his experience of living with anxiety and the epic cycling challenge he’s set himself this year.

I’ve been thinking about life over the last few months. Thinking… is it just a load of clichés that make up one big cliché?

I got on to that train of thought on my ride home from work one day when someone on a fixed-wheel bike went past me in a flash. I thought, “How dare you do that”, you can’t go past me so quickly! He was off into the distance with me trying my hardest to keep up. It was then I thought I need to (cliché alert) “ride my own race and not anyone elses”.

What was I trying to achieve by overtaking him? What is the point of trying to overtake him – you don’t know him. You are not in a race with him.

This made me think about my recovery and being able to say now that I live with, rather than suffer from, Anxiety. The only person that I need to prove anything to is myself – I’m the one training to do this ride, I’m the one overcoming what I have been through.

I don’t need to be the quickest person on the bike. I need to find the right pace for me to heal and not do it to the timescales set by others. I have the ability to ride my bike fast, but it’s how I train to get there that really counts.

I do know that I can’t do this all on my own. I can’t ride my bike without support and I can’t get to a point where I have truly conquered my anxiety alone. I need help and I am asking for help, finding the right people to help me is the next step on the road. I need to do this in my own time. If I rush things and want to be where I want to be too quickly, I won’t end up with a speeding ticket, but I won’t be there ready in a way I want to be ready either.

This is the toughest thing I have ever had to deal with.

I see a lot of comparisons in my life between learning to truly live with anxiety and learning how to ride my bike in an optimum way to get up that evil hill. It’s all about learning – learning how to cope, learning how to ride, and learning how to ask for help.

Once I understood that I needed help, that was the hardest but yet easiest thing I ever did. The hard part was finding who the right person was to get help from. My long suffering wife, my work, my family, my GP, the Sanctuary? Well, as it turned out, it was all of them. Each one of them helped me in a different way. It has helped me to learn who and what I am about.

Back to my cycling training. Some days it is better than others. As Bob Dylan once sang: “the times, they are a changing”, but the context of those words in the song are very different to what I am using them for in this blog of mine.

I want to be at 30 minutes for the commute, but if I don’t get there that doesn’t matter, it doesn’t really matter at all. The fact I am riding with a smile on my face is the most important thing to me right now.

Initially, I made a commitment to myself to ride a minimum of five miles per day, every day this year. Now, I realise that there will be days when I cannot ride and days where I need to rest, so now I have changed that to “I am going to ride a minimum, on average, of five miles per day”, this is an achievable goal, and setting goals may not always work, so make sure you have a plan B so if your plan A doesn’t work out you have a fall back plan. You can always keep adapting it so it suits your needs to help you achieve your goals. Don’t be afraid to say something hasn’t worked just try and try again.

You can support Richard and the Sanctuary by visiting hisJustGiving page and making a donation.