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Big Winter Roam | Events | Cats Protection

Toward the end of 2023, I was asked by Cats Protection’s lovely Celebrity and Influencer Relationship Manager if I could create some content to publicise their brand-new upcoming campaign, the Big Winter Roam. In this campaign, Cats Protection are setting the challenge of walking, wheeling, or wandering 15-, 50-, or 100-miles during February 2024 in a bid to raise funds for the charity’s admirable and valuable work in continuing to be the UK’s largest feline welfare charity. To take part, you need to register here before February 10th at a cost of £20 – which will also go toward the charity’s work in helping and supporting in-need cats and kittens. Then you’ll receive one of their exclusive beanie hats (hence why this post comes to you on National Hat Day!) to help you to stay warm on your walk! If you have any questions regarding the Big Winter Roam, there’s an FAQ page that should answer them all here! Obviously, I jumped at the chance of another collaboration (and a beanie!) with Cats Protection, but I was then faced with the challenge to make this campaign relevant to my mental health blog and almost instantly I thought I’d utilise the general theme of travelling and focus on all the ways it can impact your mental health – or the other way around! So, I hope you like it, and please have a serious think about taking part in this extraordinary fundraising activity…


In 2011, after two years of battling with my mental health, I had a huge argument with my Mum and ended up leaving to move down South to my Dad’s home in Dorset (where I was actually born). I hadn’t spoken to him for years until my half-sister tracked me down on social media and we re-connected. Going down there, I felt a very real sense of refreshment and the notion of a new beginning, so I enrolled in their local college, got a weekend job in a nearby retail store, and my Dad even bought me two kittens to keep me company when he and his wife were at work! But then, out of the blue (to me, anyway) his wife told him she didn’t want me to live there and that he had to choose between me and her. Of course, he chose her, and I ran off and made a suicide attempt that led to me being sectioned and admitted to a psychiatric hospital down there. Upon being discharged, my Dad took me back to his home, threw my suitcases at me and then drove me – whilst bawling my eyes out! – to a hotel near the airport and paid for a room for me overnight. Fortunately, I had been planning to fly back to Newcastle a few days later to collect more of my possessions from my Mum’s home, so I just had to ask the airport to change it to a plane the following day.

Back home – my Mum’s home – we made amends, but I found myself still craving a ‘new start’ and desperately wanting that feeling and those positive, peaceful thoughts back, so I began running away to different towns and cities in the UK. To put into perspective just how desperate I was, I found my train tickets from during that time and I had ran away on at least 26 occasions (to know some of the places I went to, I did a blog post about them years ago, you can read it here).


Work: I’ve found that when I’m travelling for professional/work reasons – whether it be for a collaboration with a travel company (I’ve worked with LNER twice – which you can read here and here, and Edinburgh Bus Tours – which you can read here) or to attend a meeting or event – I seem to experience and struggle with stress a lot more. I think that the reason for this is because travelling for a commitment like that tends to be a lot more rigid, particularly in terms of your transport running late and even just the actual time of your transport in terms of whether it’s early in the morning or late at night. I like to think I’m a very loyal person and so, when I agree to do something for someone e.g. create content in collaboration with an organisation, I try my best to produce posts of a good standard, and which meet any deadlines. So, to have to rely on transport to help me maintain a commitment, can be extremely difficult and frustrating!

Fun: Whilst I obviously love what I do in terms of blogging and any events or collaborations that make travelling necessary, I still see a difference between that and travelling purely just for fun and as more of an adventure. In comparison, travelling for fun feels like a lot less pressure – I mean, I think that whether or not your transport is running late can still matter if you have some sort of activity booked, but ultimately, it doesn’t phase me as much. A component to this being the case might be that when you are travelling for fun, that tends to mean that you’re with someone and so having that company can really help you to not only stay calm through any hiccups, but also to find light in those instances.

Running Away: Having ran away as many times as I talked about earlier, I feel very experienced and therefore fairly confident in talking about why travelling for this reason can matter. For me, because I was on a bus or a train or a metro for – what could reasonably be summed up as – negative reasons, it meant that the actual journey couldn’t ever really be genuinely enjoyable or exciting in any way possible. And, in a way, the notion that something which, to a lot of people, is fun and interesting but you can’t and don’t experience that, kind of makes the entire situation worse because it really stresses just how much you’re struggling to find positives and happiness.


Having listed number two of my ten favourite benefits to travelling in the above graphic as ‘Creating special memories,’ I thought it was the perfect lead into a quick chat about using travelling to replace previously difficult or sad memories – particularly those actually centred around means of transport or specific locations/destinations. And of course, this was an issue I was left with as I went into my mental health recovery because of those 26 instances of running away! I absolutely hated that when my Mum or a friend would say “have you been to such and such?” and I had to say “yes, but I only saw the train station, pharmacy, and hospital!” It was like a really awkward answer because literally all of the people I was saying this to, didn’t know how to respond!

I think that wanting to return to somewhere you’ve travelled where you’ve had some sort of bad experience, is a pretty understandable mindset or coping skill. The one element that I think is really important to consider here is ensuring that on your return journey, you are well enough to cope if you’re hit by any flashbacks or triggers of your previous experience. A means to not only cope if these things were to happen, but also to help give more assurance that the return visit will go well, is to travel there with a loved one. Not only will having another person mean it’ll be more challenging to end up doing something unsafe, but they can also provide a huge distraction from any unwanted and upsetting memories.

In addition to the instances of running away and those bad memories there was one instance when I was in London for an event and as some of us were getting into the taxi to leave the venue and go back to the train station, there were all these people running towards us screaming and crying. Then there were some Police vans and cars hurtling in the opposite direction with their sirens blaring and lights flashing, and helicopters swooped in circling overhead! A quick look on social media showed there’d been a terrorist attack just around the corner from our venue and I remember fumbling with my phone trying to ring my Mum to tell her I was ok whilst my hands couldn’t stop shaking! She said she was glad I’d rang because if she’d just seen it on TV she would have panicked. Fortunately, we were all safe and all made it home on time.

Prior to that experience though, I had actually been looking at moving to London permanently and had even gone so far as to look at rent prices etc. but I was completely deterred by the attack and whilst I appreciate that terror attacks can happen anywhere (especially after my work with Manchester NHS after the attack at the Ariana Grande concert), London will very obviously, always be a prime location for them. So, I decided not to move and was very grateful that my next trip that way was for an event because it meant I didn’t really have the time to think too much about being back there and instead, had to concentrate on my work and commitments to photographing the event and blogging about it later.


Transport Delays: If you’ve been reading, I’m NOT Disordered for a while now, you may already know but I’m a complete ‘control freak.’ I think it stems from the rape and abuse and how it was done to me and obviously against my wishes, so it was completely out of my control, and I genuinely felt that I had no real power or authority in the entire thing! I mean, for so many reasons I couldn’t report the abuse immediately and so I desperately tried to ‘tell’ people by completely changing my behaviour and attitude at school with the hope that someone would sit up and be like “this isn’t like Aimee, I wonder why she’s doing this?” But no, nothing. And having this horrific experience of an absence of control has meant that I’m really passionate and appreciative of any sense of guidance I can have on my own life – but especially on my mental health. So, having a loss of control over any transport I might be using and relying upon and how timely it may or may not be can be seriously frustrating and stressful for me. Admittedly, it sometimes has come to a point where I begin feeling properly angry and have really had to check myself on ensuring that I didn’t take any of that out on any staff. And so, to cope with this annoyance and irritation, I like to use the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) skill of ‘Distraction’ by finding somewhere to quiet to wait, putting my headphones in and listening to music or watching Greys Anatomy or Pretty Little Liars or another favourite that I’ve seen so many times it’s become an ‘easy watch!’

Travel/Motion Sickness: I was actually diagnosed with motion sickness a few years ago, but it’s not something I often talk about online (whether it be my blog or my social media) because it’s really not typically relevant to any of my content… especially since I now take an anti-sickness tablet. So, an antidote to an overdose of a particular medication can often make you feel sick and in having it, the Doctors literally ran through the entire list of anti-emetic drugs to find one that worked for me until we finally tried Cyclizine! And so, knowing that was the only one which seemed to prove effective for me, I was prescribed it for my motion sickness too. And a huge motivation to take it is that if I don’t, I often end up really embarrassing myself by throwing up into a random carrier bag or becoming really panicked and anxious if I have no bag and there’s no way to do it discreetly! I also really want my Mum when I’m being sick and that tends to result in me crying at the same time! I do want to say though, that there are other methods for motion sickness besides medication, for more information visit the NHS page about it here.

Packing: I’ll never forget my Nana teaching me how to pack more efficiently by rolling clothes rather than folding them and it’s a method that I still use to this day when I’m packing a suitcase or a weekend bag! I do also find though, that I can pack faster when it’s for something like a stay in hospital because I’ve packed for that instance so many times – sad to say, but also just completely the true reality of life with a mental illness… One thing I really want to say here is how wrong I think it is for someone to be made out to appear superficial or materialistic purely because their own possessions can help their mental health and general wellbeing. I think there really needs to be an appreciation that everyone is different and what helps one person may not be even halfway as effective or beneficial for another; but that shouldn’t be deemed to define either of those persons. And so, in addition to putting together a little list of my favourite items for travelling that are available on, but I’ve also created a checklist graphic which you can save and edit to type or print and write your own items to ensure you never forget them again – because I really think that the fear you’ll forget something is one of the largest reasons why packing can feel hectic and stressful.

Travel Bottle Set: £7.99

10,000 mAh Portable Charger: £9.99

Plug Extender: £12.74

Luggage Set: £76.49

Bluetooth Headphones: £49.99

Lanpn Travel Journal: £18.99

Silk Sleek Sleep Mask: £21.95

LED Travel Makeup Mirror: £8.99

Scenarios Related to Socialisation: So, I feel like there’s two ways socialisation in travelling can go – it can either be that you end up sitting with someone who wants to share their life story, but you’re really not in the mood to talk! Or you could find yourself willingly engaging in a really positive, productive, and enjoyable conversation with a fellow traveller… I think that since I started blogging and I’m NOT Disordered really started to grow in popularity, I’ve grown to not only be more confident talking about mental health publicly, but it’s also become something I’m a huge fan of doing and so I’d like to advise and encourage others try to do it too. I’m a complete believer that the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health is mostly a result of a lack of education, understanding, and experience. And so, because of this, I feel that talking more about the topic and all things relevant to it, could genuinely be vastly rewarding, positive, and productive which is why – typically – I’m almost always willing to talk about it… Even with complete strangers! Nine times out of ten, the lead to talking about mental health with fellow transport passengers and travellers is usually triggered either by someone seeing me working on my blog/writing a blog post or asking me why I’m travelling.


1.     Read the ‘room’

This phrase almost immediately came to mind when I began considering the headline for this little section and I actually found that a bit odd because it’s one I actually don’t think I’ve ever used before in all of my blogging around speaking about mental health! Now, I’ve had a few instances recently where I’ve considered the saying about choosing your battles and I feel that this little ditty is pretty similar in that it’s really a focus on the fact that it can be so important to consider any and all aspects of a situation. Perhaps wrongly, a key example of something perhaps minor or rarely thought about, is that when I’m thinking about talking about mental health in public, is the age of those around me…

I think anyone and everyone involved in the mental health world – in whatever way that means for a person – are aware of the fact that older persons statistically tend to have a poor understanding or lack of education around mental illness. And this often results in a stigmatised attitude and response in any sorts of discussions on the subject. On the other end of the spectrum(!) – I also take into account any children or young persons within earshot of anything I might say or talk about; particularly when self-harm, suicide, or being sectioned might be mentioned or brought up. I think it’s really important to gain a balance with those of a younger age in ensuring they have somewhat of an awareness of mental health in the hope that it will instil a sense of encouragement and reassurance for them to seek help and support should they begin to struggle with their own mental health. I also, however, personally think that it’s also equally important to give some sort of shield and protection to the young people and children having some sense of naivety and innocence.

2.     Respect and prepare for an unequal amount of information and experience sharing

I think that one of the most challenging lessons I’ve learnt through my blogging career is that not everyone will share the same amount of detail or information on their own experiences, thoughts, and feelings. But, I think one way I’ve overcome this is by having a Mum who is an incredibly private person and initially, in being so open and honest in my blog posts, I found it really difficult to accept and appreciate her point of view; but then I thought that if it was the other way around and my Mum disclosed something about me that I didn’t want shared… So, I fully respect and abide by her comfort levels in terms of sharing information and monitoring how personal my content is in mentioning my Mum; and in doing this, I’ve learnt to appreciate that this can be the case in a wider setting too.


1.       Distraction where things get stressful or upsetting

2.       Humour when you could really do with a laugh!

3.       Support if you find yourself struggling in some way

4.       Calming influence through any travel hiccups

5.       Bonding opportunity for any friendship or relationship to gain new memories together






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