On 13th October 2012 thirty cyclists left Axminster in Devon and rode 769 miles to the Slow Food Salone del Gusto festival in Turin, Italy, in memory of Philippa Corbin. We rode to raise awareness of depression and raise funds for two charities.

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Theresa’s Story

Depression – the feeling is bad. It seems there are two types; reactive – depression resulting from trauma and chronic depression when, unfortunately you have inherited the wrong DNA. I suffer from chronic depression and come from an extended family littered with depressive illnesses over three generations. When you are young you think it will not happen to you. My best childhood friend used to call me ‘moody’; I did not know why. Looking back it is easy to see that these were the first feelings of everything not being quite right and disliking being me. Periods of depression continued throughout my life. At its worst I can only describe it as not wanting the next moment of your life to happen. I suppose it is easy to see how suicidal thoughts occur and even how taking this course of action can happen – but if you are unaffected by this illness you will not understand.

I have had bouts of depression at all times of the year; when life has been going well and when it hasn’t; when I have been working and when I have not.

Severe depression is the worst feeling; far worse than the worry of potentially life-threatening physical illness. I have had both. A depressed person cannot shake themselves out of it and there is no guarantee that counselling will help. I have had several sessions of cognitive therapy; you see the sense of what is said and how your upbringing and life experiences may have affected you; but you probably know all this already.  Medication has proved to be the only effective treatment for me and I have accepted that I will be on medication for the rest of my life.

At its very worst, depression can result in suicide. If you are like this you have to tell someone – anyone – but preferably your doctor. This is taken seriously as it was in my case once. I was sent to a psychiatric unit. If this happens to you don’t be afraid.  Initially it will be terrifying to think that you are in a ‘loony bin’. However, I found my stay there to be quiet, restorative and with others who were suffering similarly. It helped.  It worked and I have never had to return.

It is easy to hide depression in company and it is also easy not to realise that you are becoming depressed if it is happening for the first time.

I hope the Slow Ride to Turin campaign will raise awareness of the symptoms of depression and encourage people who think they might be depressed to say so and seek help. With the right help and treatment even the worst depression will pass.

Theresa Lewis.