Cycling for Hope: Tyler Waddell Crosses BC for Mental Health

September 18, 2019. Article by: Government of BC

Tyler Waddell is in Whitehorse, where he should be getting some well-deserved rest. Instead, he’s excited to talk about an inspirational journey that has taken him – and his bike – from Vancouver Island to the Yukon. 

“I went through 35 cities, covering eight geographical regions and 2,800 kilometres,” says Tyler, who, after overcoming his own mental health challenges, decided to cycle across BC to raise awareness of the subject. Along the way, he met people experiencing challenges and he helped connect them with support. He worked to give people who are struggling “a glimmer of hope” that things can get better. 

Because, as Tyler’s own story shows, no matter how dark life gets, things can get better.

Tyler’s story

Tyler’s struggles with mental health started in childhood when he first began isolating himself in an effort to block painful events.

“My parents got divorced when I was 10 years old,” reflects Tyler. “My dad was always my hero, and then he was gone. I had my hurt little brother and my hurt mom that I assumed I had to take care of. That’s when I started putting up walls.”

Over the years, Tyler came up against other pressures and setbacks. The deaths of friends and family members, losing a business, and substance use problems compounded the extreme isolation he felt.

Eventually, at the end of 2018, Tyler found himself experiencing serious depression, anxiety and addiction to alcohol.

With no one to reach out to for support, Tyler attempted to take his own life.

It was then that I finally tapped out. I finally said I needed help with my life.

Tyler turned to the Cariboo Friendship Centre in Williams Lake, which connected him with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Cariboo-Chilcotin branch for support. Interior Health then found space for Tyler in a recovery program at the Surrey Phoenix Centre, where he received treatment for his mental health and substance use challenges.

Tyler’s journey

Asking for help was transformational for Tyler – and it led to gifts that he was able to give back on his cycling trip.

“I’m in such a different place now,” says Tyler. “I have tools to help me support my own mental health…The biggest one has been talking to people.”

Talking to people was the most beautiful, enlightening part of my trip. I saw so many faces and so many people who were inspired.  Hopefully those conversations can help someone take that step to get the help they need.

Despite just completing the long journey from Victoria to Whitehorse, Tyler is already hard at work on new ways to help people. He plans on setting up a non-profit focused on connecting people experiencing mental health challenges with supports and services and he is planning additional outreach events across BC to raise awareness of mental health.

Most importantly, he’s continuing to encourage people to reach out and talk about their mental health, taking forward one of the most important lessons from his past into his bright future.

“I’m done my journey, but I’m just starting my new chapter.”

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