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So The Journey Begins...

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

River Of Hope has formed organically with encouragement from others and my own desire to push boundaries.

It is out of my own comfort zone to even announce publicly that I plan to paddle 650 km for mental health. I’m excited to bring awareness and attention to this topic however I feel like it is the “clean” version of a complex situation for many.

Photo credit: Bullfrog Images

Raise money for a cause. This has been repeated so many times with numerous different organizations and events. It's honourable and noteworthy. It also feels like a simple answer to a complicated problem.

My heart is full with the generous outpouring of support and people so readily wanting to donate to this cause. It’s overwhelming to realize how many people truly want to support my paddle down the river.

Let’s get real for a minute, many of you may not know me personally but if you do (luckily or unluckily) lol I am a very straight forward human being. It is what it is. Not what it’s not.

Mental health is not a neat package. It is ugly, scary and raw. It is not showering for days or weeks on end. Not caring about anything let alone yourself. It’s being in a dark and lonely place.

Sometimes it’s about coming so close to ending it all that you scare yourself so badly that you might possibly start to seek a solution or not. That’s if you have one available through resources, support or proximity.

Money is critical. It can be used for support programs, training and outreach and is important.

This journey down the river for myself will be painful, challenging and sometimes seemingly impossible. I am choosing to engage in this journey. We as a society have to remember that a mental health crisis is not something people choose to have or can snap out of like a “bad day”.

Here’s what I truly want to have happen before I go down the river:

Honest conversation. Hard talks. Real emotion.

In a world more connected than ever through social media we aren’t seeing the whole story or being honest with ourselves.

I’m not asking for public announcements about your struggles. What I’m asking for is sharing. Share with a friend how hard life is right now. Tell family members that you’re not okay. Email someone if you need to but if you are capable of it at this time, start letting people know what’s truly going on. Find a therapist that works for you. Go on medication should you need it.

The irony is that we often don’t tell those closest to us for fear of dismissal or the dreaded: tomorrow will be better, don't be sad. Ugh.

If someone opens up to you just listen, ask how you can support, please do not dismiss it as nothing!!

It's not your job to fix it...all people need is to be heard and accepted.

So the real journey begins today. Not paddling down the river but by having meaningful conversations about mental health.

Check out resources at:

Purchase Brave Viking merchandise to show your a mental health supporter at: Brave Viking

I'm grateful to have support physically from everyone who is joining me on the river, Reta Boychuk for keeping me sane and safe as I go through the whitewater sections and the steady check ins I get from people asking what they can do to help me achieve my goal.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Keep spreading the kindness and keep an open heart to those around you that may be struggling.

Lisa Stocking

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