Rome To Home: Bipolar sufferer sets off on 1200 mile run across Europe in aid of mental health awareness

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A man who was sectioned after finding himself standing on a motorway mid-way through a manic episode has set off on a 1200mile run from Rome to London in aid of mental health awareness.

In 2012, Dan Keeley was in the crux of a psychiatric episode and believed he was “the chosen one” who had written a new age bible which would improve the existence of mankind.

He was hospitalised after being found preaching to drivers from the central lane of a major Italian highway and diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

Now, five years later, Mr Keeley, 42, is embarking on his Rome To Home challenge which will see him run 1250 miles across Europe to raise money for charity Campaign Against Living Miserably.

On his campaign website, he described what it was like in the weeks and months leading up to his diagnosis. 

“That summer I believed I was ‘the chosen one’, the wealthiest man on the planet, the next Steve Jobs, the one who was going to show the world how to slow down and follow their hearts,” he wrote.

Bipolar Disorder – formerly known as manic depression – causes the sufferer to experience mood swings from one extreme to another.

People with the condition can go from periods of feeling very low, lethargic and even suicidal to euphoric and overactive, possibly with symptoms of psychosis. 

Mr Keeley said: “I was acting in a way which no-one had ever seen before. I had completely lost my mind and was about to crash back down to Earth with the biggest bang imaginable. 

“What followed was time spent in psychiatric wards in Italy and the UK, a clear diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and the inevitable crippling depression which – for the better part of 6 months – had me wanting to take my own life. I was completely debilitated.

“I went from having 100 per cent conviction in myself and my thoughts, to believing I was the biggest burden on society and those closest to me. I didn’t want to be here anymore.”

In the five years since his episode, Mr Keeley has been speaking publically and privately about his experiences.

He is now undergoing his latest mammoth challenges in the hope of “normalising the conversation around mental health issues” and “ultimately keep men alive by talking”.

His route starts in Rome’s most famous landmark – the Colosseum – and finishes at the London Eye.

Starting on August 25 and finishing on October 28, Mr Keeley plans to run up Italy, around Lake Geneva and across France – before making his way past his home town of Sevenoaks and, eventually, London.

He intends to raise £12,000 for CALM and said he hopes to “give hope to others suffering out there, thank all the incredible people who have supported me and, above all else, encourage others to speak up when they’re struggling the most.”

To follow his journey, visit http://www.rometohome.com/dan/.


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