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 has set himself this year.

Within the previous couple of blogs I have made several references to the music and bands I listen to. This month’s blog seems apt to reference the Happy Mondays and their album entitled Pills, Thrills and Belly Aches.

My medication (pills) has gone up. This is no defeat, it’s a tactical withdrawal to regroup, this was me asking for it to be increased as I saw signs within my behaviour that had me thinking that dark cloud was coming once more.

The belly aches part is more for my bike. I managed to crash the other day, not into anything small and insignificant, but a moving truck. I didn’t see the indicator or him turn in front of me onto the road I was crossing. It’s a good job the breaks are new and working as I wouldn’t be sat here now, writing this blog. The only thing hurt is my pride.

I have some impending group rides coming up – not far or fast, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for some time, test myself against others out there. Learn from them on how they ride their bikes, learn how to gear change so I can get up that hill!

This is where the thrill comes in… I attempted some small hills over the last month, and managed to get up them without even thinking about what I was doing. I had a real buzz about being able to do that. I just put the hammer down and went for it. They weren’t high, long or steep, but the first real hills I’ve had a go at. More of them to come over the next two months. I know it won’t be easy but I am relishing the challenge.

I now have the full kit I want for the ride, new shorts, shirts, jackets and two frame bags to keep my gear in. The ride is getting closer week by week, my anxiety comes and goes and that affects the training I do, but I have goals and I have targets and I know where I want to be.

I’m getting excited for this ride! I am eager to do it, and my mind and body are being trained for it. That hill is nothing and won’t get in my way this time around. I am determined to do it and get up it. With the help and support of my friends and family, and talking to people who know how to ride, this will help me conquer this ride.

The one thing I am really learning on this journey is:

Never be afraid to ask for help – someone will always listen and help you, no matter what you need the help with, just ask.

To date, Richard has raised an amazing £400 for the Sanctuary. This week’s blog arrives fresh off the back of his first 65 mile training ride on Sunday.

You can support Richard and the Sanctuary by visiting his Just Giving page a making a donation.