So it’s day 55 on my 1250 mile solo running adventure from Rome to London. Yesterday I’d just completed the biggest running day of my life – a mammoth 54 mile day to arrive in Paris in style. I wake up and (don’t judge me) wolf down the most-calorific McDonald’s breakfast I could stomach before making my way over to the Eiffel Tower.
Besides climbing out of Rome on the 25th of August, the 5 days crossing the Alps and dropping down to Montreux which took my breath away, this was to be another landmark moment on this ‘mental adventure’ I’d never forget. But for one reason I could never have written.
I take the customary selfies on ground level, I grab my ticket, I join the queue (with heightened senses hoping I didn’t pong too much given that it at been a few days since checking in at a laundrette), I grab the window spot in the lift to capture the majestic iron tapestry on the way up. We climb a level, then another, then another on foot, and there it was, the 360 view with a picture-perfect day across the whole of Paris. As if that wasn’t enough in itself to blow my mind at this stage having ran every step of the way here from the firkin Colosseum.
But get this. Most people would spend 30 minutes maybe 45 on average at the very top. This overly-enthusiastic adventure-runner however was going to soak up 120 minutes minimum, so I did, until the time came to head back down to Earth but not before recording my customary 90 seconds of film on my iPhone to capture the magic. Honestly, 90 seconds, 70 seconds of which I was free styling until 2 rock-stars roughly my age caught my eye off to the right.
I figured I should probably say “Hi” seeing as they seemed particularly interested in my monologue. So I stop filming, I make sure the footage saved before catching eyes and introducing myself. They do the same, they’re German, they’re super positive (and clearly a great match as a couple), I confirm exactly what I’m up to before they say, unbelievably, “Wow awesome! Have you heard of The YesTribe?”
We’re talking a 90 second window where this coming together could have happened… at the top of the Eiffel Tower… a coming together of this British Yes-Triber with Maria & Raiko Müller, Tribe Leaders of The YesTribe Germany. You could not have written it and this just verified once again that I was being looked after out there, that something somewhere was looking out for me every step of the way and helping me bring this whole adventure to life with more colour & magic & warmth & love & generosity & high-spirits than I ever know possible.
But less of the reminiscing, let’s break this thing down.
In 2012 – after 6 months of my mood elevating - I lost my sanity and ended up preaching from the central lane of a major motorway in Italy. I’d gone from believing I was the next Mark Zuckerberg of the mental health world, to the next Steve Jobs, to The Chosen One who was put on the planet to show the world how to slow down and follow their hearts. This was only going to go one way. Then came the time in psychiatric wards, the diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder, then the 6 months of crippling depression where I simply wanted to take my own life. Not a great chapter.
With a humiliating turning point in a supermarket looking ahead to 2013 – with unreal love & support from friends, family and the pros – I stripped it all back, started again, nurtured a much healthier & simpler approach to life ridding myself of life’s excess to focus on what truly matters most, started sharing my story and then witnessing the magic on each occasion.
Every time I shared my story 1) I felt lighter as a result, 2) I started building an amazing Dream Team around me, many of you reading these words are very much included, and 3) the very best thing of all, every time I shared my story it gave huge permission to others to speak up about what they were going through. We’re talking 9 times out of 10. We’re talking unreal and heartfelt responses, so much so that now feeling much stronger & healthier both physically and mentally though 2014/15/16 I knew I had to do something with this.
I knew I had to create a huge platform to share my story on a national level given the reasons above. And what better way to do that than by returning to Italy but this time frikin running from the Colosseum in Rome back to the frikin London Eye. In the words of Lightning McQueen (huge fan) “Ka-Chow.”
So where’s this going? Where this is going is (tracking back) to starting my research, planning my route, taking a look around to see if anyone had done this before, then connecting with the one and only Miss Laura Maisey who it turned out was running the almost exact-same running adventure the year ahead of me (2016), then being invited by Laura to come and witness the magic that was the end of Elise Downing’s 301-day 5000-mile running adventure around the UK in Greenwich Park where I was to meet (take a bow) Mr Dave Cornthwaite and this majestic thing called The YesTribe.
The Yes is history.
Between now and then I shared my story at Yestival 2016 (things may have gotten a little emotional), soaked up every second of Rome To Home as if I were living in an oil painting for 65 days straight, stepped in to this next chapter in my career as a professional speaker & mental health activist and, almost in parallel, launched #AREWEOKUK (the Red Bull of the mental health world) whilst taking on the huge opportunity of becoming a SayYesMore Ambassador.
So there’s your context and here’s why this… tribe… matters.
I have a vision. A vision as vivid as that day at the top of the Eiffel Tower. A vision that all 66.6 million people across the UK have the courage, the support and the safe space to speak up when we’re suffering, to feel empowered to speak up when we’re suffering so that together we can show future generations how it’s done. It’s a simple vision, one that I believe in my core can be achieved in my lifetime. And as I said to Dave when talking through the Ambassadorship, if I believe in someone, some thing or some community who’s playing their part to create the world I believe in, then I’m here to promote them, to evangelise them and ensure as many people across the UK know about them, of which The YesTribe is firmly at the top of the list.
What does this tribe offer beyond the world-class supportive network of ever-growing Yes’s? It offers courage, it offers support and it offers a safe space. Not just to share our next crazy-ass adventures and new ventures but also our doubts, our concerns, our fears, our vulnerabilities, our anxieties and our lived experiences, whatever we’ve been though, together as one.
And that, to sign off with Dream team, is why every single living soul on our beautiful little island and beyond should keep The YesTribe… firmly in mind.
With love, DK x