Courage Tour: “It makes sense, it is fun, it encourages”

Mental Illness Awareness Trip

Author: Alexander Giebler

Courage Tour in Halle an der Saale | Photo: Promote Courage eV

03/09/2022 | The brave route is a project of an association founded in 2020, a self-help organization dedicated to educating people about mental illness. The tandem route, aimed in particular at people suffering from depression, runs through Germany each year through four to ten stages on different routes.

For participants, the focus of the tour is community, exercise and exchange. This is to promote greater openness, knowledge and courage in dealing with depression. In the interview Kerstin, who is there for the first time, and Peter (who traveled with us since 2014) talk about Aleksander Giebler press service bike about their experiences and the purpose of the Courage Tour.

pressienst- Fahrrad: Courage Tour – interesting name. What does it take to be brave on the road? What exactly is to be financed?
Kerstin: For me personally, courage means that you are brave enough to talk about depression with friends, acquaintances, family, and then in the next step with doctors – just to help yourself. On the other hand, I am now brave because I participate, I am physically active and I am courageous to other people affected by the disease. Yes, it is for me personally beneficial.

What is the meaning of the smiley you have with you?
Peter: This is how we want to represent all those affected who cannot afford to make their depression known. Professional disadvantage, intimidation … smiley is a symbol of others.

Driving out of depression only Afflicted on the road?
Kerstin: In our group there are only those who are affected, but relatives travel with them as well. Now, I would argue that most of those affected have had, or at least have had, depressive experiences.

Peter: I have to add something else: in Germany a lot of people suffer from depression and that is not what people think: you have depression all your life. There are also people who have one-time depression and that is all, or it comes back at some point. It’s not like you’re depressed and then you’re in an acute phase for the rest of your life. These are serious diseases with an individual course, but are easy to treat.

You’re staying in Göttingen today. How long have you been on the road and what are your next goals? Where else are you going?
Peter: Basically I started this stage today, but this team started in Aurich. From North Frisia, we first traveled to Ludwigslust north of Berlin, then via Berlin to Glauchau south of Leipzig. And then unfortunately we had to break up due to illness, now we are going further in Göttingen. The team covers a total of approximately 1,500 kilometers. There is also a team where people wander and horses carry their luggage ”.

What should the tour pay special attention to? What should she explain to the victims and their relatives?
Kerstin: On the one hand, it’s about increasing your visibility. You can also see in teams that all people can be affected. So, breaking up a little what is hidden.

Peter: For those who are affected themselves, it’s also about learning to talk about it. Because this is the beginning of dealing well with it. Understanding should be developed among those who are not affected. And to make life easier for relatives; many think, “Oh, what can I do?” – and then do too much or do something wrong. Like a blind man: He doesn’t want to be dragged across the street either. We want to help develop something and, of course, provide information. There are self-help groups where you can talk to those affected. We talk very little about the disease in our group. We got it, we can talk about it. But it’s not like we talk about it all the time.

What does a typical day out on the road look like with courage?
Peter: It’s the same with courage: For example, we spend the night wild. Usually, we always have a start and finish only in a fixed place. On the way, we follow a given route, which mainly leads through nature – i.e. several bicycle paths, more forest and field paths. And when we’re done, we’ll look for a place to stay. We ring a bell somewhere, go out onto the lawn and cook a tasty meal every evening. Well, it is brave. And then sometimes people ask, “Where’s the engine?” What, this is a biorower? It’s brave!

Kerstin: Well, I’ll prepare a little after getting up. I don’t sleep much, I’m more of an early riser. Then I pack my things and we make breakfast together.

What do you have with you? Or maybe you go to a cafe?
Kerstin: We basically always have the basic equipment with us. Otherwise, we go shopping in the evening and we can prepare ourselves well in the morning. If it fits in between, there is a short coffee break. For example, today is all day, so not quite.

How exactly was the idea for a tandem born?
Piotr: Our motto is: Carry each other your burdens. You have responsibility. For some, it is very difficult, the tandem is a good symbol and a beautiful thing. And of course you get noticed! If we had three cars parked here, they wouldn’t be so visible.

Do you feel like the corona crisis has had an impact on the last two years? So when it comes to society’s perception of disease?

Kerstin: I think both. I can imagine that the pandemic has dramatically increased the number of people suffering from depression as isolation also leads to more loneliness. And I think it’s possible that the more people talk about it. There are a lot of young people in my environment in particular, so more people have the courage to open up.

Peter: Yeah, it’s not that hard to talk about it anymore because so many people have it and celebrities also talk about it.

Is this a message from you? If you are affected, find a group, contact the people who are affected?
Kerstin: Self-help help, yes.

Peter: It definitely is. But you also need to realize that there are still too few therapists and clinics. This is a complaint that we also want to highlight.

Alexander Giebler is the editor of the bicycle press service.

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