Nathan Patel: Suicide Awareness Month
I’m Nathan and I work at The Rider Firm. My role here is to fix IT related issues and improve system infrastructure.
In May of 2016, I attempted to take my own life. Luckily a few friends had realised that something wasn’t right and managed to get to me before anything irreversible happened. Things had gotten on top of me, I was 27 and I felt an immense amount of pressure to have my life “together”. I had no career, no money saved and no partner, all of the things I thought I was supposed to have by the time I approached 30. I believed that if I didn’t have any of those things, I was useless to everyone and society in general, and so I spiralled out of control, abusing drugs and alcohol to get by and I just felt so alone throughout the whole situation.
I had tried to reach out to my doctor for help, but was given prescription drugs and told I would be placed on a waiting list for a therapist (this didn’t happen till about 5 weeks after my attempt), this abuse of mind and body eventually lead to me attempting to take my own life. The weeks after that lead to discussions and open conversations with friends and family realising that I wasn’t alone, at the time I lived with a friend who was keen on cycling, so he convinced me to give it a go-to try and take my mind off it. My first ride didn’t go as planned and I was very scared riding on the road at first, but I had caught the bug and that week I went to work and got my first road bike on the cycle to work scheme.
I am so glad that I continued to ride bikes because I’ve gotten to experience things I never thought I would and learnt more about myself than I thought possible. Cycling forces you to dig deep and learn what you’re about as a person and when you ride with friends there’s no mask, you can’t hide away from how you feel and that starts those conversations! Cycling helped that focus I needed for the things like a career, savings etc and ironically when I turned 30 I realised all that stuff I was worried about before was totally arbitrary, it changed how I viewed myself as a person.
Thanks to cycling a world has opened up that I had never seen before and throughout this journey I came across a few people. First off was Nick Frendo who is also one of our sponsored riders. I knew about Nick and his story before I started at The Rider Firm and it was actually Nick who inspired me to be so open about my story and do charity challenges for Movember and The New Normal Charity. Nick has continued his campaigning and awareness through ASCND.cc and you can read his first article with us, Road to Respair.
For the next chapter of ASCND.cc Nick is looking to do some getaways (covid allowing) which would involve a cycling trip based around talking and opening up. This is what he had to say:
“I have decided to run a number of cycling trips with a focus on escaping. No col bagging or Strava hunting but with the aim of having conversations with like minded people in a relaxed and safe environment. Somewhere to find some headspace or pick up some advice from someone who’s faced similar struggles. I’m not a fan of the word “mindfulness” but I guess that best describes what I’m trying to achieve. I want to encourage people to both talk and listen. Riding side by side can break down barriers, it worked for me and to this day still helps when I need it.
Currently I’m looking at areas I know, places that offer incredible cycling and are steeped in cycling culture but are also inclusive with rides for all abilities. For me Girona, Tuscany and Provence offer all the above.
Over the next couple of months I’ll be putting together the trip look books. I’ll be visiting locations and re-connecting with guest houses and venues I’ve used in the past, places I know will work to create the right balance of cycling, culture and relaxation."
As ever proceeds raised from the trips will go to supporting The New Normal Charity”
This segway’s perfectly on to another person who I started to follow on social media thanks to cycling and that’s Benjamin May, one of the founders of the The New Normal Charity. The New Normal helps adults connect and work to support one another through difficult moments. They offer a number of completely free peer to peer meetings focusing on grief, loss and mental health and well-being. Their meetings offer spaces to many diverse communities including Black + Brown (Black + Brown Good Grief), LGBTQ+ (Queer Good Grief), pandemic loss (Lockdown Loss) alongside Good Grief – the meetings originally launched in 2018, It’s Complicated (for complicated loss) and their mental health specific groups Girls Talk and Boys Talk.
This enables everyone and anyone to have a safe space to talk about these things and just be listened to. This is an invaluable source to anyone who may be struggling and if more things like this were readily available and awareness raised to them hopefully fewer people will reach crisis point. As they continue to grow, currently they host 30 peer to peer meetings a month, they add more groups to allow more safe spaces for people to talk.
You can read more about TNN and their meetings here.
They also have some great posts on social media for example this one on things about the language we use around suicide here.