We Did It!

I’ve yet to even begin finding the words to describe what we’ve collectively achieved with Rome To Home, so for now please accept these few words as a small token of my overwhelming gratitude to every single one of you who played your part to get me home and contribute towards the overall success of the adventure.

I love you all x 

Let’s do this!

This is it Dream Team, this is it! 

I can’t express my overwhelming gratitude to every single one of you who have believed in the adventure, rallied behind me, sent me messages, inspirational quotes, donated to my fundraising efforts (now over £5500!!), prayed for me and played your part to fire me up for the 65 days ahead! 

As I stand here next to the Colosseum, I want you all to know that I’ve read every single word you’ve sent me, taken huge strength from every single show of support, and just how much strength and determination you’ve given me ahead of starting this thing tomorrow. 

To save myself from getting too emotional, and in my efforts to stay as present as possible today with my family here in Rome, I’m keeping this one short & sweet.

I love you all, so much more than you know. 

Let’s do this! x

3 month’s to go! 

Anyone else getting excited? 3 month’s to go! Here’s your monthly update covering all things training, gear, support, mind-set & fundraising. Enjoy! 

Time To Rally My Dream Team

Right guys, it’s time to rally my Dream Team! You ready?

If you’re reading these words then there’s a good chance you either know me already or have just heard about this little self-supported running adventure I’m taking on. Either way, you’re a frickin’ rockstar for being here and checking out what I’m up to!

Over the coming months – from this moment on in fact – I’m calling on as many of you as possible not just to get on board with my journey and the big ‘Why’ behind the adventure, not just to Donate to my efforts if you’re feeling generous, not just to consider running & fundraising alongside me when I get back to the UK (more on that to come), not just to join me on my dedicated Facebook, Twitter or Instagram channels if that’s your thing, not just to shout from the rooftops about Rome To Home between now and August 25th (my start date)… but to also keep an eye out for me.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over these past 5 years, it’s that you can’t take on the world by yourself if you’re looking to go places. It’s just not possible, particularly so with Bipolar. Instead, it’s all about all about surrounding yourself with people who are much smarter than you are, have your back no matter what and have the confidence to tell you when things seem a little off… which I’m giving you all the license to do.

If I seem a little buzzy, tell me. If I seem a little quiet, let me know. If my words seem a little ‘out there’, just sit with them for a while and see if I bring them back down to earth. If my video edits aren’t making sense, leave a comment. And if you’re worried about hurting my feelings, don’t be. In 2012, by default, I had to start again and strip away any ego, quickly learning that your friends & family only have your best interests at heart when they’re dishing out their concerns and words of wisdom, and it’s rarely (if ever) personal. So go for it!

What I’d love is for all of you to feel as though the success of Rome To Home is your achievement as much as mine. What I’d love is for all of you to feel as though you’ve  come along on this journey with me, from start to finish. What I’d love is to have as many of your gorgeous people with me when I reach the London Eye towards the end of October, celebrating our efforts together! And besides all that, what I’d really love is to make it home with a clean bill of mental health having blown the roof off my fundraising efforts for my partner charities.

If you haven’t heard already, I’m frikin’ proud to be working with the incredible team at CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) who work tirelessly to raise awareness about male suicide in the UK & to keep men alive by talking. These guys are making a tonne of noise in the charity world and our combined missions couldn’t be more aligned as we both set out to support others (particularly men) to get their lives off the ropes. When I’m crossing the Alps however, you’ll also hear me raving about one of the UK’s most innovative lifestyle-sport charities Snow-Camp, who change the lives of inner-city young people through snowsports and who I’ve been privileged to be a part of  for over 5 years. Now that’s got some great synergy to it don’t you think?!

So the way I see it Dream Team is that I’m just the messenger. I’m just the guy at the sharp end who’s representing all of you who are rallying around me. I’m just the guy who has to put one foot in front of the other whilst you guys are smashing it back home – spreading the word, telling all your friends, preparing to run with me when I’m back on home soil, and if nothing else starting a conversation about your own mental health if you’re not really feeling it right now, which is what this is all about.

Sound good? You with me? I knew you would be. Let’s start having some fun!

Shake & Bake.

DK x

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One Thing At A Time

‘One thing at a time Dan, one thing at a time.’

I’ve been hearing this a lot recently, and rightly so.

With Rome To Home being my first adventure of this scale, and with time ticking down fairly rapidly, there’s a tonne to think about and prepare. There’s the training, the route planning, the kit reviews, the product testing, the budget, the PR, the awareness, the fundraising, the blogging, the home-life, the day job… I could go on.

But we only have so much bandwidth right, something which I was reminded of at 3am last night when I woke to floods of tears (yep, mine) as I balled my eyes out and dreamt of my dear ol’ Gran reminding me to take a breath and keep things as simple as possible. No kidding. It’s amazing how your body processes such a build-up of tension and anxiety, and hey it’s no secret you can get a little emotional from time-to-time with the Bipolar package.

I’ve been here before though guys and I’ve got this.

With 5 months to go before I set off from the Colosseum, I’ve been reminded to take stock and realise that I’m in a good place. I’ve got all the foundations in place, I couldn’t be any better shape given the time I’ve had, I’ve got an amazing support network around me and actually if I had to start this little running adventure tomorrow I’m confident I could give it a great shot.

So what’s the plan? What do I need to do to shift from trying to squeeze too much in to making sure I’m looking after my own mental health between now and August?

Lists.

I lost sight of this little nugget recently and it’s amazing how such a simple tool can be such a game-changer when taking on a project of this scale, and who was I kidding that just ploughing on and being reactive to everything would turn out for the best. That right there folks is a recipe for disaster. So I’m back to the game-plan, I’m breaking things down, I’m simplifying, I’m decompartmentalising, I’m gleaming support from close family & friends and most of all, I’m breathing. And you know what, this is all part of the adventure.

With love.

DK x

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Six Month’s And Counting

Holy cow, six month’s to go!

Six month’s from today, I’ll have my back to the Colosseum and facing North. Well, South-West actually as I’ll be heading along the River Tiber to the Vatican first before heading North out of Rome. Un-be-frikin-leavable though!

It’ll be early doors ready to get ahead of the midday heat. I’ll have Georgie and a few others by my side. I’ll have spent a few days in Italy already to acclimatise. I’ll have the power tunes lined up. The GoPro will be fully charged. The 30l backpack will be fully loaded and packed to perfection. And man, I can’t imagine how I’m going to be feeling in that moment as I prepare to take those first few steps on this 1250 mile running adventure.

Can you tell I’ve been doing a little visualisation?

These past few months I’ve been steadily increasing my training hours, running further distances with the loading pack, running with a weighted vest on the odd occasion (thanks JB), focusing more on my core strength in the gym, nursing a little twinge in my knee with the support of a few physios, paying more attention to my nutrition (without obsessing too much about it) and generally working through the motions to get ever closer to feeling ‘game ready’.

Mentally I feel in a solid place. I’m resting really well and taking off any unnecessary external pressures surrounding the whole adventure. The sleep couldn’t be better and I’m just feeling blessed to be in the calm and collected place I am.

The CALM team have been amazing behind the scenes; spinning ideas as to how we can best prepare for the whole challenge mentally and to ensure that we’re maximising the chances of me resting well each day (with sleep being a major component towards keeping me on the level). And as from the support from my family & friends, you guys included… well, I couldn’t ask for a better Dream Team supporting me behind the scenes.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be taking a real breather as Mrs K and I head off for some way overdue time together in South America. We’re talking minimal screen time and complete R&R as both of us practice being completely in the moment together and recharging ahead of all that’s to come over the course of this year. Ooo it’s all very exciting!

For now girls & boys, thank you all for your support to-date and let’s look forward to blowing the mother-flippin-roof of this thing on my return and as the clock ticks down to Rome!

With love.

DK x

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Adventure Planning With Bipolar

You know planning a 65 day self-supported running adventure with bipolar has a little more to it than you may realise.

First up is committing to the idea in the first place. If other people’s experiences are anything like mine then you can imagine how easy it would be to lose conviction in any of your idea’s of this scale and simply right them off as more ‘crazy world-changers’ which are probably best left gathering dust on the shelf.

Next up is putting you idea out in to the world and processing the ‘yeah yeah yeah, we’ve heard this all before’s’ that inevitably come your way. Although it’s got to be said that that these reactions have come few & far between as I guess (so I’m told) I’ve steadily built up a track-record that if anyone was going to do something like this it would be me, which I’m quietly a little proud of.

Then it’s the medication. Will I have enough of the right medication to keep me on the level and ensure a solid’s night sleep each night.

Then it’s the sunshine. Too much of this stuff in one hit has lead to issues in the past, so this needs to be factored in as well.

Then it’s the communications with loved ones along the way and them trusting I’ll be checking in with an honest account of ‘how I’m really doing’.

Then it’s the insurance. Will we have to fork out a huge excess to get me home if I ‘lose it’ (my words).

Then above all else you’ve got the overriding concern from those closest to you – not only for the physical and mental exertion you’ll be putting yourself through, but mainly the amount of time spent by yourself along the way. And I don’t blame them either. Over the year’s it’s the times when I’ve tried to do too much too fast by my own accord that has lead to the difficulties, so that level of concern is absolutely fair game.

So, with all that said, what would be my top tips for anyone planning an adventure with Bipolar Disorder?

  1. Remember that it’s not all about you. This may be your adventure and your ‘art’ which you’re putting out in to the world, but it’s those closest to you who will have to pick up the pieces if all goes wrong. Granted your mood isn’t always in your control with bipolar, but you at least owe it to those closest to you to find that balance between putting in as many safety mechanisms & processes as you can, without detracting from your dream and your vision. You owe it to them and you’ll be pleased you did in the long run.
  1. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare. You may feel like you can jet off and do this thing tomorrow, and that may be the case physically, but make sure you give yourself plenty of time to prepare mentally by visualising what you need to do to maximise your chances of success. I’ve given myself 18 months to prepare for Rome To Home, and even that’s flown by!
  1. Know your medication and don’t settle. It took me 3 years to find the right medication that works for me, and I spoke up when things weren’t right. I can’t imagine planning an adventure like this alongside dealing with any changes in my medication, and personally I think you’ll have enough to worry about without worrying about the side effects. Your medication is going to be the most important piece of kit you have with you, so get to know it well.
  1. Take as many pressure’s off as you can. This process for me started in 2012 when I started discovered minimalism and cultivated the time to strip away life’s excess to focus as much of my time, energy & focus on what really matters most (my health, relationships, passions, growth and contributions). When planning an adventure with bipolar, this absolutely has to be the case also. There’s no use over-stretching yourself and agreeing to too many commitments alongside your core planning. You’ll just exhaust yourself before you’ve even started. Learn to say ‘yes’ to the right things and ‘no’ to the wrong things and doing so with a smile along the way. You’re going to get a number of requests when putting an idea like this out there, but just remember what really matters most and keep your priorities, aims & objectives in mind at all time.
  1. Talk. There’s a lot to process when planning an adventure and if all that information’s stuck up in your head then you’ll be doing yourself no favours in the long run. Remember, it truly is a gift to be asked ‘what do you think’, so gift that gift to others and get your loved ones on board with your plans and your mindset. Adventure-planning after all is a tonne of fun so why wouldn’t you want to share this gift with others. This is what it’s all about.

Oh and one last thing, remember that I’m no expert. I’ve still got 6 months to go before I start this thing and I know it’s not all going to be smooth sailing. But I’m giving myself my best shot and these are absolutely the best nuggets I can give you.

With love.

DK x

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How You Doing? No, Really

How you doing? No, really. How are you doing?

Since I’ve gone live with Rome To Home, the response has just been amazing, but not in the way you may expect.

If you put an adventure like this out there, you’ll be amazed by the amount of support that gravitates towards you in the form of contacts, kit offers, training tips and professional advice etc. But besides that, something far more humbling, is the amount of people who connect with your story and open up to you about (in my case) their stories of struggle, discomfort and overwhelm.

I’ve had close friends & family tell me more about their struggles than ever before. I’ve had life-long friends sharing their anxiety issues which I never knew existed. I’ve had new acquaintances share their deepest darkest fears with me and I’ve had complete strangers telling me ‘I’ve never shared this with anyone but…’, all of which is just such an honor to hear.

Each of these interactions have completely re-affirmed everything I’m setting out to achieve with this adventure – to get these stories told, to break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues, to raise awareness of the shear magnititude of silent suffering going on out there, to get people talking about mental health (particularly guys), for people to know that it’s OK not to be OK and ultimately to show others that we can absolutely life life to the full with the right love, support & professional guidance in place.

This is what it’s all about guys, and if this blog & Rome To Home plays it’s part in achieving much more of the above, then it will all have been worth it.

Talking of this blog, what you won’t get from me are empty blog posts or churning out content for content’s sake. Instead, what you can expect are timely posts packed full of truth & warmth & empathy & vulnerability & trust & care & concern & light & love. Oh so much love! Because here’s the thing guys, I have ‘been there’, I have wanted to end my life on a number of occasions, I have been tested and I hope that the things I’ve learnt over the past few years can really add value to to the lives of anyone suffering out there, wherever they or you are on the spectrum.

And this is a two-way thing. I’ve got a 1001 topics to share with you all, but I’m going to need you to keep me posted on what you’re most interested in the most. Is it the adventure planning,? My kit list? More of my story? How I got through the dark times? Whether or not I still struggle with my mental health (which is ‘absolutely & always’ by the way)? Are you curios about my medication? My daily rituals? Or have you got some other burning questions in mind? Whatever you’d like to know more about, give me a shout on social media. You know where to find me.

How does that sound? No, actually, here’s the better question for now; how you doing? No, really. How are you doing? I’d really love to know.

With love.

DK x

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Let’s Get This Party Started!

We’re live!

Guys I can’t tell you how frikin’ grateful I am to those of you who’ve supported me and my recovery over the past few years, and now to be where I am today as I launch this epic adventure with all you right beside me.

For those of you who are new to my story, 5 years ago in 2012 I experienced a full scale ‘holy-mother-of-s**t-balls’ manic episode when on holiday in Italy with (my now Wife) Georgie – an episode which had me believing I was ‘the chosen one’ and preaching from the centre lane of a major motorway in an attempt to show the world how to slow down & follow their hearts. Nuts!

What followed was time spent in specialist psychiatric wards both in Italy and the UK, before the desperately dark depression kicked-in which crippled me so much that I wanted to take my own life.

Since that period, by sharing my story and being open about my experiences, I’ve built up such an incredible team around me who have my back no matter what. Without these people – you know who you are – I just wouldn’t be in the place I’m in today as I gear up to take on this epic 1250-mile solo running adventure later this year.

You could say that Rome To Home is an overnight adventure 30 years in the making. It’s the culmination of all my life experiences. It’s the type of adventure which so many people could have predicted I’d take on even from a very young age. It’s got ‘Dan’ written all over it. It’s a celebration. It’s an expression of gratitude to all of you who have stood by me when I was at most vulnerable. It’s for Georgie. It’s for you Mum. It’s for all my family, for all my friends, and for you. If you’re reading these words then for whatever reason the universe has bought your towards me and my journey, and for that alone I’m counting my blessings.

Given what I’ve been through, I’m often asked am I a spiritual person. In response, I’d say I’m a hugely spirited person. There’s just no way that you can experience what I have and not come out the other side a changed person. I’ve always felt I’m being guided in many ways and as I now look ahead to starting this epic journey in August, I hope that the stars continue to align to grant me a safe passage.

For now, it’s a time to celebrate and to breath. To celebrate being in this moment with Rome To Home now live, and to breath as I remind myself not to ‘shine my light too bright too soon’ (thanks Jamie Ramsay for that nugget of wisdom!). This is absolutely a marathon and not a sprint (obviously) and I’m going to need all the help I can get in the lead up to Rome.

So, keep an eye out for me guys. As the great Lightning McQueen (from Disney Pixar Cars) teaches us, you can’t go through life alone (whatever your circumstance) and it’s a team effort if you want to go places – particular so for those of us who’ve had a tendency to ‘overcook it’ in the past!  So stick with me Dream Team and let’s have some fun as we go about this journey together.

With love.

DK x

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