Riding Over Depression: Harrison Read

by Shandi Pace

 

Nearly 50% of young adults in the United Kingdom have experienced depression since the pandemic began. During the lockdown in the U.K., Harrison Read slipped into a depressive state. Unsure of if he could break out of his depression, he turned to cycling as a way to get him moving.

Before the pandemic, Harrison had a history of depression. He was first diagnosed at the age of 13 and was struggling at the end of 2019. At the time, to get more active, Harrison turned to football. He sustained an injury that kept him off the field and off from work until the day the lockdown started. Harrison was back to where he was last year.

During a particularly bad day during the lockdown, Harrison was on the phone with Samaritans, a U.K. helpline for those experiencing depression, along with friends. Going for his daily walks during the pandemic, Harrison noticed the increased number of cyclists on the road. One day, he went to pick up a bicycle from Peter Wallbank, a 71-year-old who donates the money he makes from fixing bikes to prostate cancer, a disease he experienced firsthand.

The conversation Harrison had with Peter inspired him to make cycling his outlet for dealing with depression. It was a way for him to get outside for long periods during the lockdown. This conversation also led him to create his own documentary about cycling called Braking the Cycle. Armed with his sports journalist degree, Harrison took on the challenge of the documentary, in order to spread awareness about men’s mental health.

On one of the last days of filming, Harrison had his bike stolen. “I was back to square one. I had nothing to do every day…This wasn’t just the documentary to me, this was like livelihood. This was something I was doing every day to starve off depression,” Harrison said.

This moment destroyed him. To help, Harrison’s friends set up a GoFundMe to raise money to buy him a new bike. The GoFundMe raised around £500 in 24 hours. Instead of buying a bike with the money raised, Harrison donated the funds to donated to Wheels for AllProstate Cancer U.K., and CALM

The ultimate goal of the documentary was to bring awareness to men dealing with depression. The suicide rate in men in the U.K. is at the highest it’s been since 2000. In 2019, men between the age of 45 and 49 years had the highest suicide rate at 25.5 per 100,000. “Men notoriously don’t talk about their mental health,” Harrison said.

Harrison has plans to do more films, so he can “promote cycling in different ways so it can connect with as many different people as possible.”

For more information on Harrison Read and “Braking the Cycle,” check out his Facebook page.

To watch Harrison’s documentary for free, check it out on our website.

 

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