When I started to bicycle tour, the word Pannier wasn’t apart of my vocabulary. I managed to find a used low end mountain bike and fitted a junky bicycle rack to it. With a simple foam mat and backpack, I road for about a month. I covered about 200 miles along the Texan coast. Once I reached Corpus Christi I developed a small case of Staph. I found a hospital and received what antibiotics I needed for the infection.
Looking back to that time, I understand now that I was basically homeless. I had no real sense of what was going on or what I was doing.
“Schizophrenia isn’t always obvious.”
I was lost and I didn’t have this skills necessary to manage what was going on.
My diagnosis is schizoaffective mood disorder, and has been since 2012. For several years I was heavily medicated and mostly stable. During my first ever “bicycle tour,” I refused to take my medication, and things soon went into a sharp decline. The only thing that was real was the fact that I had to continue off onto the next town for supplies. I was on a grand adventure, the world was my oyster and what not. But those ideas where just delusions of grandeur, they have no real place in this world. I was 25 at the time, and I am surprised I didn’t die. My set up was mishmashed with a jumble of camping accessories.
“Ignorance is Bliss”
I forced myself to face the illness. In the wilds of America, I found strength.
Fast forward a year, my set up improved quite drastically, and my mental awareness was on a positive trend. I had a grasp on what was going on. “I had a severe mental break. I was hospitalized for over a month. I was focused on spiritual energies and delusional ideas closely resembling a megalomania.”
I never took the time to look at where my mind went. This tour lasted for about 9 months.
“Don’t stop, can’t stop.”
Traditional methods do work, but sometimes it takes more.
After my 9 month tour, I returned home and restarted my regiment of prescribed medication. The year long adventure had left me in a skittish demeanor. I didn’t spend too much time around people, and I was afraid of most engagements. To supplement my medication I also participated in sessions with my therapist.
I was crazy for so long, but I know what its like to lose yourself. I had to build myself back up from a position of complete madness. I received messages from the television, and felt like I was a God with mystical powers. Schizophrenia isn’t a passing issue, and understanding it requires years of patience.
It’s been three years since my first attempt at bicycle touring, and I must admit it has been a great experience. Had I never made that first effort, I am sure I would have continued down a road that would have had me in a worse position. Adventure cycling gave me something to strive for, it gave me a purpose, and helped me find myself.