Hi! I’m Dan.
I speak , I write, I run, I share my experiences with bipolar disorder. In fact I do lot’s of things but the only real title I’m prepared to call myself is a purpose-driven optimist.
Nice to meet you.
In 2012, after 6 months of not looking after myself, I experienced a full-scale manic episode which resulted with me preaching from the central lane of a major motorway at rush hour in Italy. I believed I was ‘the chosen one’. What followed was time spent in psychiatric wards, a diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder and 6 months of crippling depression which had me wanting to take my own life.
Thankfully through an incredible amount of love, warmth & patience from my closest family & friends, coupled with life-saving medication & talking therapy, I began my long yet progressive journey back to the positive place you find me in today.
In 2017 I took on a long-distance adventure-challenge to share my story by running 1250 miles from the Colosseum to the London Eye, entirely solo & self-supported. The adventure was called Rome To Home, took 65 days and raised over £17,000 for charity. It was life-changing, for all the right reasons.
Alongside my passion for changing the landscape of mental health in the UK, I’m also a proud husband, minimalist, partnerships & community manager for a national snowsports youth charity, a Salomon Brand Ambassador, Movember Foundation SpokesMo, EtchRock Elite, Thrive LDN Champion, BASI Level 2 Alpine Ski Instructor & National Running Show Speaker & Ambassador. All this combined, you’ll rarely find me doing anything other than channelling as much of my time, energy & focus towards what I believe really matters most – my health, relationships, passions, growth and contributing to others.
It’s great to have you here.
For a little more context, that summer (in 2012) I believed I was ‘the chosen one’, the wealthiest man on the planet, the next Steve Jobs, the one who was going to show the world how to slow down and follow their hearts. I believed I’d written the new age bible fit for modern times. I was spending money I didn’t have. I was acting in a way which no-one had ever seen before. I had completely lost my mind and was about to crash back down to Earth with the biggest bang imaginable. What goes up must come down right!
What followed was time spent in psychiatric wards in Italy and the UK, a clear diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and the inevitable crippling depression which – for the better part of 6 months – had me wanting to take my own life. I was completely debilitated. I went from having 100% conviction in myself and my thoughts through the first half of 2012 to believing I was the biggest burden on society and those closest to me through the second half. I didn’t want to be alive any more.
Now five years on from that holy-mother-of-s**t-balls-crazy-ass summer (thanks to more love & support & professional guidance I could have ever wished for) I’ve been sharing my story with any audience who will have me, all in the hope of normalising the conversation around mental health issues, giving hope to others suffering out there, to encourage others (particularly guys) to speak up when they’re struggling the most and ultimately to keep men alive by talking.
In fact I’ve just run 1250 miles solo & self-supported from the Colosseum in Rome to the London Eye, all for the cause. You can learn more about Rome To Home here.
To paint the picture of how I was growing up, I’ve always been that passionate, energetic & positive person who’s prided himself on living life to the full and maintaining an optimistic outlook. And this positive energy has definitely taken me places – from captaining various sports teams I’ve been involved with over the years, playing for the South of England Lacrosse Team for a few seasons, running The London Marathon, qualifying as a BASI Level 2 Ski Instructor and landing various awesome opportunities – voluntary and professionally – which I’ve been super lucky to have gained over the years.
This same energy would also absolutely exhaust me when left unchecked. Too often I would wake up at stupid’o’clock, give each day everything I had (often with no decent nutrition), not easing up until the early hours of the morning for weeks on end, to a point where I would be so exhausted that I had no choice but to shut myself away from the world out of sheer embarrassment in my change in mood.
So how do you find me in 2017? Well I’m not completely out the woods – Bipolar’s a lifelong condition after all – but I am in a really positive place guys, ready to share more of my story as the adventure unfolds.
For now though guys, here’s just a bit more about me:
Now I know this may sound a little crazy but I believe in a world where the vast majority of people are truly happy. I also believe in a world where everyone (no matter their circumstance) has access to every bit of love, support & professional guidance they need when they’re struggling the most. And I’m here to do all I possibly can to help make this a reality.
Where’s this all come from? Great question.
Well besides surviving some pretty dark times myself, I’ve just always felt that there is far too much unnecessary suffering going on out there and far too many distractions which keep us from focusing on what really matters most, and I want to play my part in doing something about it.
Having gone about this a little too fast in 2012, consequently learning some pretty heavy lessons along the way, answering life’s biggest questions and since finding a whole mix of things that really work for me (none more so than the simple act of talking), I hope this goes someway to explaining why I’m so frikin’ passionate about supporting as many other people as I possibly can with my story.
I also can’t bear to live with the fact that 12 guys under the age of 45 take their own life every single day in the UK and I feel I’ve got it in me (given my own experiences) to play at least some small part in bringing this number down.
Let’s lighten thing’s up a bit (insert big swig of Italian Coffee here)!
So, how am I going about all this? Another great question. You’re on fire!
By being a student of my ‘Why’ – continually learning and forever being creative with reaching those I’m trying to support, Rome To Home being my biggest project yet.
By focusing as much of my time, energy and focus on the things which I believe truly matter (we’ll get to these in a second).
By seizing the day and packing in as many experiences as I can.
By keeping it real with those of you following my journey.
And above all else (despite this being a pretty heavy subject area) by having as much fun as possible and taking as many of you with me along for the ride.
The few things which I believe truly matter in life are [continually cultivating] your health, your relationships, your personal growth, your contributions to others, and cultivating a passion which will not only leave this world in a better place than the one you were born in to, but one that also aligns with your most authentic self and one that set’s your soul on fire.
Through my experiences with Bipolar, I’ve tasted the euphoric highs and I’ve survived some pretty dark lows, and it’s impossible to have experienced both ends of the spectrum without asking yourself some pretty big questions in between:
What are the things that make us truly happy? What does it mean to live life with or without personal boundaries or values? What does it mean to live intentionally and mindfully rather than just accepting all that life throws our way? What does it mean to live life (seemingly) with or without a purpose? And the biggest question of all, what really matters most?
I know this may all seem a little ‘out there’ but simply put, I’m just an all-round keen bean who wants to live life to the full, to push my boundaries, to know that I’ve at least tried to make a difference in this world, to arrive at the end knowing that I gave it everything I’ve got, and by doing so perhaps I’ll achieve a few things along the way:
Perhaps I’ll give others (particularly guys) the strength to speak up about any battles they may be struggling with personally, to share their own experiences and to seek help when they need it the most.
Perhaps my efforts will play their part in normalising the conversation surrounding mental health; battling the stigma and educating the masses towards realising that mental health issues can affect anyone at any time, and can absolutely be managed (and often harnessed & channeled towards a positive outcome) with the right love, support & professional guidance in place.
Perhaps I’ll encourage one or two others to take the time to consider what really matters most to them, and to be mindful and courageous enough to say ‘yes’ to the right things, ‘no’ to the wrong things, all the while having a **** load of fun along the way.
Perhaps I’ll plant the seed for others to take the time to nurture & discover their own ‘Why’, to find their own ‘north star’, to channel their energies towards a life-long personal cause they believe in and to cultivate their passions so much that from here on in it’s just going to feel like play.
And perhaps I’ll make a few people smile and laugh along the way.
Let’s see how I get on.
And don’t worry, I’m not the type of person to ram my beliefs down your throat. I tried preaching in the past and it wasn’t pretty. Instead, this is more of a quiet (ish) and personal mission which I hope plants a few seeds and offers a few considerations for others to think about applying to their own lives.
When I’m not spending time with my incredible Wife, family or friends, or working my nuts off for one of the UK’s most innovative youth charities, you’ll generally find me out there running (especially in the trails), speaking, connecting with as many of you as possible or working on my next creative projects or adventures.
I hope that paints the picture for you.
If this is your first time around here, then I hope you’ve already got the sense of just how much it means to me to have you here reading my words and seeing what I’m up to. You have my word that I’ll be doing my absolute best in keeping it real with all of you, sharing not just the high’s but also the low’s as we go about this journey together.
Oh, and on that note, if you can all keep an eye out for me I’d really appreciate it. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years, it’s that you can’t go through life alone (bipolar or no bipolar) and it’s a team effort if you want to go places. Don’t just take my word for it, Lightning McQueen (from Disney Pixar’s Cars) teaches us this lesson also… well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already, it’s the best film ever made!
Shake & Bake.