What does it look like, actually, to Move Through Your Darkness? Troy Knecht shares

The day I messaged Troy Knecht, to ask if we could share his photos and recap of his 24 hour run for hope and mental health, Facebook surfaced a memory… the last photo I have of a wonderful mate, who took her life. Troy’s initiative honours someone he lost, too. Maybe that’s why his post landed so deeply for me. Previously, I’d thought, oh look, there’s a good thing happening. But after he shared his recap, it dropped into me on a different level.

He did not run one minute alone. Over 24 hours straight.

He put something out there, that he admitted was kinda scary, and the response was “I can be with you through that.”

He talked to the Pique in the lead-up to his run and explained the why behind a 24 hour run called Move Through Your Darkness:

“I chose that name because it represents the notion that a lot of us are going to have dark times during our life, but I’m hoping to show that just by striving to move forward and putting one foot in front of the other and just staying in the fight, you will find the light again and you will come through the dark times. The whole thing is that, come Sunday morning, the sun will rise again. So even after the darkest nights, the sun always rises. So I’m just trying to let people know that it’s OK to not be OK, and that speaking isn’t a weakness.”

Troy Knecht

He wasn’t looking for donations to support it, he just wanted to create an opportunity for people to connect with one another, and start a conversation around mental health.

And here’s what happened (as he recounted, in the Facebook post that had me messaging him…)

This is what my 24 hour run for men’s mental health and suicide prevention was all about.

– Not running a single minute alone over 24 hours straight,

– Having Jess one of our village police officers run 4km with me in her full uniform,

– Mo running and riding with me for hours on end dressed in his firefighting uniform,

– Pemberton Fire & Rescue providing their trucks to light a section of my route at night,

– People sitting outside all night at my aid station to provide support and encouragement,

– Adults, kids and dogs jumping in and riding or running with me,

– Receiving private messages of support and others sharing heart aching news of having lost loved ones and friends to suicide,

– People telling me how inspiring and valuable they found what I was doing,

– People worldwide joining the challenge remotely and sending me messages of support and love,

– Being energized and motivated by everyone who showed up for themselves, each other and me over the 24 hours.

The challenge was already a huge success even if I had not made the 24 hours, and that was all I was really hoping for to be honest.

So from me to you…

THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING.

Community.

This,

This right here is what community is.

Troy Knecht

It’s not just me, is it? Can anyone else actually read that, and keep dry-eyed?

Troy shared that “the real aim of the challenge was to get people together to support one another, to share stories and experiences and to create conversation around mental health and suicide prevention. And in that regard I would say that the challenge was a huge success given the incredible community involvement and participation of people worldwide.”

For me, personally, I feel super moved thinking about the connection between mental health and asking for help and having the courage to ask for a witness for your pain (instead of going dark, going it alone), and then how many people actually did that, literally, in Troy’s run. They showed up to witness, so he didn’t have to go it alone. He didn’t have to complete this challenge alone.

I think about this a lot, because I shrink into my pain. I retreat. I go dark. I think I can only show up around friends when I’m up, because I don’t want to be a downer.

But, when a friend has asked me to witness them, in a tough place, it’s such an honour. It’s such an honour to be trusted with that. It’s hard, because it’s hard to not be able to fix things for people you care for. But to take this image with me, of just running alongside someone, just keeping them company, as they slog through something they have to get through, is powerful. You can’t run anyone else’s journey for them… but what a thing, to keep them company for a bit of it. Just so they know, they’re not alone.

And if you happen to have a fire truck in your arsenal, to power up the sparkly lights and throw a little illumination… well… I was needing the tissues at that point.

I love what Troy did, and I’m so grateful he was willing to share it with us. It doesn’t inspire me to become an ultra runner – 24 hours? Yikes, man. But it does make me aspire to be a better witness. And to be better at inviting people along for my troughs and slumps.

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