My Story so far..........
As a young lad, I had a dream to undertake an epic adventure, for various reasons it was never realised. To this end, I put the trip in the nether regions of my mind, until now.
My recent health, has forced me to rethink my priorities in life and here’s a little background on it –I’ve always thought I had a meaning or a purpose in life and felt that direction was in business, transpires that’s not the case, nor could be any further from it.
Following our holiday to New Zealand back in March 2013, my mood slipped as I dreamt of home.
For the first time in my life, I was genuinely out of control and nothing I said to myself, made anything better.
Then the analysing began, self-worth plummeted and next thing you know, I hadn’t really left the house for 6 weeks and for the first 3-4 weeks I was averaging about 2-3hrs sleep a night – and that was nothing positive. All this, is compounded by my father’s suicide when I was 17, turning my emotions into a melting pot of doom – which was locked away in the dark regions, this was until everything came to a head late July 2013.
Finally, Heidi forced me, kicking and screaming, to go to the doctors, to be diagnosed with what I felt I didn’t have, depression. If you’re wondering if that helped, not it most certainly did not. Everything spiralled for a few days, combined with no sleep in that period, my mood was as low as one could possibly get……….and believe me, that’s pretty low. My next visit to the doctors (on my own), was a challenge in itself. I felt that I’d melt if I left the house and our social life was completely non-existent.
I couldn’t face seeing anyone and would enter into deep phases of panic attacks. Once I finally arrived at the doctors, without melting I add, she informed that I needed to go onto medication.Pfft, “medication is for sick people” I thought to myself. My ignorance on the subject would not allow me to consider that medication was the path I, not only needed, but must take. So I left in a blind panic, frankly disgruntled, that it had been suggested, that I, yes me!, should take happy pills.
A couple of days later, following some research, although still not believing, I went to see the doctor again. This time she took my unwillingness to take any form of medication away from me, by doing so resulted in my option being removed and that made it considerably easier.Once the meds kicked in, my mood lifted and I began to think with focus, although rather tentatively! Then was directed to a service called I-talk (telephonic counselling). It was quickly noted that this service was not for me and was referred to the main nutters trust in Hampshire.
This has proven to be, without a doubt, the biggest challenge of my life and that includes my youth. Since then, I’ve been on a self-awareness journey that’s been an emotional rollercoaster – now is a good time to point out that whilst I have been ill, Heidi (my wonderful wife of 12 years) has been an absolute pillar and has had it rough all these months. Without her, I most definitely would not be in the position to consider much at all, so who knows where I’d be without her amazing support. People say “that’s what you do in a marriage”, true to extent, for me, this goes over and beyond.
Although a rollercoaster, it has been good to learn about myself, what I am and what makes me tick, am I really that loopy – though the jury remains out for consideration! Through all this, it has made me consider this adventure all over again.
My task is to travel from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole in 37 days…………..I know, I know, why now? Now is the perfect time to be doing it. You cannot conquer your own demons, if you don’t take them head on.
If I can complete the expedition and raise awareness for the illness, that supports not only the depressed, but the family, then I’ve done a good job. Helping one family as a result, is, in itself, a result.
To be honest, this is one hell of a challenge, and am fully expectant of the hardships this expedition presents.
Can I stand the physical challenge? Unknown
Can I endure the loneliness and mental strength required to undertake the trip? Unknown
I will comfortably say, that I’ll give it everything!
“There is no point treating a depressed person as though they were just feeling sad, saying, 'There now, hang on, you'll get over it.' Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.” Barbara Kingsolver
Expedition Name: Expedition D2E
Expedition Date: December 2015 - January 2016
Expedition Start: Hercules InletDistance: 1200 km (750 miles)
Expedition Duration: 37 Days (hopefully 30 days)
“I may say that this is the greatest factor - the way in which the expedition is equipped - the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who has everything in order - luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck”. From “The South Pole”, by Roald Amundsen
This expedition is not about fame or glory, nor do it seek it. What I do care for, is to be part of a team that works with a charty in order to support households that have a parent / sibling suffering with depression – also to work with young adults and children that have suffered severe trauma.
For some reason, depression is a taboo subject and people quickly flit over the subject – I did. My ignorance on the subject made me ignore and judge a person, without knowing any facts. Now having suffered, and in recovery, I've got a very different approach to it, also to other people, as you just don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.
Men find it particularly difficult to express themselves at the best of times, let alone when you’re in the darkest hours! Perhaps if I had talked to Heidi and my friends earlier, we might be in a different situation, who’s to say.
But I now know, that without the support from Heidi and our friends, I without a doubt, would not be having this conversation with you all.Given how dangerous this expedition is, will hopefully assist in getting sponsors, moreover, asking people to dig into their pockets and donate to the charity more worthwhile.
My Chosen Charity
dare2express and YoungMinds have come together to raise as much awareness for the charity as possible, by using the expedition as a vehicle to optimize this partnership and promote the very important role that YoungMinds play within the Mental Health sector for children and young adults. The primary function of the expedition is to raise much needed money for the parent helpline. Government support for the very important part of YoungMinds has been withdrawn. As a result, this has put a significant amount of pressure on an already stretched charity. This is a true lifeline to parents who are struggling to understand the demands of children in certain circumstances. It offers professional advice and personal touch that is much needed.
- Fastest and only New Zealander to make a solo, unsupported crossing following the same route as Amundsen in 1911/12
- Attempt to be fastest Commonwealth member to make the traverse
- To become the third person in history to make the 1170km journey in 30days
- First Expedition to continually map with an app specifically designed for schools
“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” Norman Vincent Peale
Solo Expedition Statistics
- Only 30 people have skied solo to the South Pole in history and only 19 have skied the purest form of solo, unsupported and unassisted without any help from kites or resupplies.
- Only two people in history have reached the pole in under 30 days
- The latest expedition lead by Richard Parks started from Hercules Inlet; the recognised start point on the geographical coastline of Antarctica for solo expeditions to the South Pole.
- In polar terms, the purest definition of skiing solo means unsupported and unassisted, without the help of mechanical support or re supplies.
- The style label “solo” requires that the explorer is alone and receives no outside assistance. A solo performance thus requires the assist label “unassisted”.The first ever solo journey to the South Pole was recorded by Norwegian Erling Kagge from Berkner Island in 1993 in 50 days.
- The first ever solo journey from Hercules Inlet was by Norwegian Liv Arnesen in 1994. She was also the first woman to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole, she completed the journey in 50 days. Out of the now 30 Antarctic solo journeys recorded in history, some have taken shorter routes from the recognised start point of Hercules Inlet to which all modern records are gaged and compared, and some have used kites to assist their journeys or had re-supplies.
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light”. Aristotle Onassis
Latest Solo Trip
Richard Parks is the latest person to complete a solo expedition and now holds the new British Record – completing the expedition to the South Pole in exactly 29 days, 19 hours and 24 minutes later, on Saturday 4th January 2014 at 5.24am GMT.Richard’s journey was only the 19th solo, unassisted and unsupported expedition to the South Pole in over 100 years of polar exploration to the bottom of the world. Despite not completing the journey in his target of 23 days to break Christian Eide’s incredible world record, Parks’ new British record sees him become the only other person in history alongside Eide to reach the South Pole solo, unsupported and unassisted in less than 30 days. Most of the people that have taken place in expeditions, say that Eide’s record will never be broken.
“Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” Nido Qubein
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear". Nelson Mandela
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope it was as informative as I can make it.