Mental illness: it’s good to cry under a helmet

“Everyone who gets on a motorcycle absorbs a lot from the outside world, body and soul. In this environment, it seems to many that it is easier to talk about psychological problems,” says Dieter Schneider. He is the initiator of the Fellows Rides motorcycle event series, which he launched in 2021. Her message: “With an open visor for depression, help.” It is aimed at participants and also, through the media, at the public. The “fellow trips” are designed to draw attention to the widespread illness of depression and encourage people to donate to projects that benefit “mental health”. In 2022, four trips to Germany and Austria took place, this year there are 14 dates in the program, from May to October – in Germany, including for the first time in Berlin, Austria, Romania and Portugal.

A conversation with Dieter Schneider quickly turns into a kind of round-the-world trip. Born in Koblenz in 1959, the former Olympic fencer is an avid motorcyclist. In Würzburg, he began his professional career in the media and advertising industry and started a family. The turning point in his life was the death of his son, who committed suicide at the age of 23 after severe depression.

A year later, in 2015, Dieter Schneider embarked on a four-month trans-African tour from Würzburg to Cape Town. In June 2018, he began a 130,000 km circumnavigation that was interrupted by the corona pandemic. “I raced around the countries, in Honduras I was, for example, exactly one day. I often only saw the surface,” he says. Meanwhile, Schneider has arrived in Portugal and wants to spend the next few years in the Algarve hinterland.

When in the soul a thirst for wandering

Traveling around the world not only helped him cope with the blow of fate and survive grief. The tour also became an initiative to break the taboo subject. Schneider had to painfully realize that many people find it difficult to interpret and correctly categorize the symptoms of depression. In the world of work, in schools and universities, and in personal life, there is still much to be done.

As a father, he suffered indirectly from the consequences of the illness. “I’m not a psychologist, I just want to help create a climate where mental crises can be discussed openly,” he says. “I want to call on people who are directly or indirectly affected and free them from the fear of stigmatization.” Encourage them to seek medical attention in a timely manner, as with any other illness. “People with mental illness often don’t have a lobby. The more we talk about it openly, the more things will change for the better.”

His travels brought Dieter Schneide to the Cape of Good Hope.

In the meantime, many people who have heard of him, his travels, and “comrades’ trips” turn to him directly with their stories and concerns. “Affected people pour out their hearts, and I ask myself: how can I deal with this? I’m not a therapist.”

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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