Darren takes on challenge to support charity which saved his life

A Melton man is preparing to take on a gruelling fundraiser to support a mental health charity he credits with saving his life.

By Nick Rennie
Friday, 5th August 2022, 5:28 pm
Darren Atwood takes a break from training for his cycling challenge to show off some leaflets for the charity he is supporting, Unlock Your You
Darren Atwood takes a break from training for his cycling challenge to show off some leaflets for the charity he is supporting, Unlock Your You

Darren Atwood aims to pedal 145 miles in just four days, following the course of the Grand Union Canal from London back home to Melton.

All sponsorship raised will go to Unlock Your You, which helped him come back from a long period of depression which culminated in suicidal thoughts.

The married father-of-two is now a fully qualified mental health first aider volunteering with the charity and he hopes his fundraiser will also raise the profile of the organisation so it can support others at the lowest point of their lives.

Darren told the Melton Times: “Night after night on the phone for hours in tears, they comforted me, reassured me I would get the help I needed, and offered me so much love and compassion, they truly bought me back with the help of their wonderful volunteers and amazing training.

“I can’t believe how close I come to losing everything and my beautiful children growing up without their daddy – just thinking about this now still brings me to tears. This bike ride is for them and all the amazing volunteers.”

Darren sets off on his challenge on Wednesday August 24, from the Brentford docks, and he will journey back to Leicestershire via Market Harborough.

He says he has come a long way after the effects of suffering child abuse and many other contributing factors left him with serious mental health issues.

Darren developed severe anxiety and PTSD due to the extreme trauma he suffered, leading to regular panic attacks on an almost daily occurrence, as well as crippling depression. He was unable to leave the house, go on public transport or be around others for fear of my safety.

“It wasn’t until my 30th birthday, that everything came to a head after I started experiencing extreme lows and depression for long periods and then eventually developed into intrusive suicidal thoughts and tendencies,” he said.

“Feeling isolated, trapped, and terrified, battling with my mind, unable to sleep crying myself to sleep every night, fearing for my life, I just wanted the hurt the anger and the pain to stop. I contemplated numerous times how I would make it stop and put an end to my life.

“I knew with my beautiful wife and two amazing young children to consider, I had to get help and I needed help fast.”This is where Unlock Your You came to his rescue, bridging the gap between having no support to getting clinical support for mental health. Darren added: “I am forever grateful for what they have done for me.

“The charity provides a range of services to help the community and people who are experiencing mental health troubles.

"We are working hard to break the stigma of mental health and to educate as many people as possible."

Darren is now studying and training to become a qualified counsellor with the charity as well volunteering.

He added: “I am dedicated in spending the rest of my life making sure no one has to go through what I did alone.”

Click HERE to sponsor Darren.