When I share the idea of riding a bicycle across the country some 3700 miles I generally get one of those “are you nuts” looks from just about everyone. It was the same look I gave my friend Isaac who came up with the idea in the first place. It didn’t take me long to buy in as I pondered the notion of riding across America in order to expand the dialogue regarding depression and suicide. Isaac, my partner in this adventure, is one of those special people who has found ways throughout his lifetime to inspire and motivate folks to pursue things that…too most…just seem too farfetched.
This country’s journey to better understand mental illness and its effects on a huge number of people has miles to go. Our society doesn’t allow enough opportunities for those who are struggling to readily reveal their illness and easily get treatment without barriers. It’s not in our nature to admit that we have depression and our families naturally try and keep it quiet during therapy. We have to change the conversation and establish the fact that depression is a serious mental illness. We have to give it the attention that it deserves when it comes to eliminating the stigma surrounding those who suffer and those who have lost loved ones to suicide.
As we rode across the country I shared Jordan’s story proudly and shared all her wonderful attributes and stories with those that we meet in every community we visit. We talked about the extraordinary young lady who was totally focused on helping people around her, near and far. We talked about Jordan’s foundation and the important work it’s doing in the Fort Worth community that’s focused on depression research and suicide prevention programs. We also expanded on the idea of how other communities might mimic our efforts. Most importantly, we listened to others who wanted to share their story.
We did this ride in honor of Jordan Elizabeth and the thousands of people who are struggling today and who have struggled in the past.