Pete Sincock

Mental Health

Confronting Mental Health on the Road to Amsterdam

April 3, 2024

Trigger Warning: Child Abuse and Suicide

 “People need to understand that there are two very different things, a cry for attention and a cry for help”

I’m Pete Sincock and my journey through life has been rocked with trials and tribulations, but resilience and the power of human connection have helped transform my life. 

I come from Torquay, Devon, and now I live in Bristol. My early years were marred by a difficult childhood filled with abuse and trauma. I was in an abusive home. My mum’s ex-partner was quite physical. I was then sexually abused when I was seven.

My mum found a new partner but we didn’t get on. I left home at 16 and had to begin my life all over again. Living in and out of hospitals, hostels, and B&Bs became the new normal. At 17, I faced another traumatic incident, being raped by someone I considered a friend. These experiences, coupled with strained relationships meant I had a really difficult childhood. 

The typical boyhood dream of wanting to be a footballer fell by the wayside but my love for football lived on. I was given the opportunity to become a scout for Argyle but my home life prevented me from being able to seize it. 

In school, my impressive academic potential was disrupted by issues with other students and life at home. Unfortunately, issues in my home life meant I had to drop out of college twice. Not fulfilling my potential is a huge regret of mine but it has provided me with valuable life lessons.

Amidst the chaos of my life, I found solace in a long-term relationship that became a cornerstone of personal growth and resilience, providing stability amidst life’s unpredictable twists. 

Navigating adulthood, I grappled with internal struggles and sought to understand the neurodivergent aspects of my personality. Suspecting autism and likely ADHD, this self-awareness provided context to the challenges I faced. I continued my struggle with mental health which manifested in various forms—from suicidal thoughts to reckless behaviors like over drinking. 

Life’s challenges persisted but my relationship of 15 years did not. Its end forced me to rebuild my life from scratch. The breakup and the challenges of discovering myself led me to rush into new relationships, seeking external validation. I struggled to love myself and it became clear that using Tinder was not going to help. 

A turning point in my life occurred with the Yes Tribe. Just the day before their Yestival event I had attempted to take my own life. Despite initial hesitations and a string of excuses, fate intervened, and I found myself at the gathering. The overwhelming love and acceptance I experienced during that weekend were transformative. For the first time in years, I felt a glimmer of hope, a belief that life could be different. Scott, an inspirational leader of the Yes Tribe, extended kindness and arranged my attendance at their event. 

He has been a source of stability, support, and friendship. Gratitude fills me as I acknowledge the transformative power of his kindness. Without Scott, my life would have taken a darker path. Now, I embark on a journey to stabilise my life, hoping for a positive turnaround.

It was at the event I had a realisation. I would cycle from England to Amsterdam and back. I had always loved football and having the goal of attending Ajax’s second game of the season seemed perfect for me.

This audacious goal symbolised my resilience and determination to break free from the shackles of my past. Julie, a friend I met at the Yes Tribe’s event, invited me to her caravan in Scotland to reflect. At first, this seemed like a crazy idea, I had just met Julia but after a little internal debate, I went. It was at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Scotland of all places that I realised; I had the power to change my life now, not in some distant future.

I did not own a bike and I had not cycled for over 10 years, but I knew I could do it. I moved on from my job and began to live with Scott. It was there I began my intensive training for the cycling journey.

Yes Tribe, warm showers, and the generosity of strangers became the driving force behind my newfound purpose. The cycling journey, both physically and metaphorically, became a testament to the kindness of individuals who opened their homes and hearts, reinforcing my belief in the inherent goodness of humanity.

I pedalled through Devon, London and Bristol before finally finding myself in Amsterdam in just 2 weeks. Not only was my journey a way for me to work on myself but it was a chance to give back to those who helped me transform my perspective on life.

I donated half of the money I raised to Andy’s Man Club which is a male support group that is pretty much UK-wide. They offer tea, coffee and a chat with a very relaxed atmosphere every Monday at 7.

The other half of my money provided strangers tickets for the Yestival event so that people going through similar hardships to me have the opportunity to go through a truly transformative experience. The incredible response from family and friends, especially Emma, who raised an incredible amount at her pub, exemplified the power of collective compassion.

As I continue my journey, I emerge from a chrysalis, ready to embrace self-discovery and growth. I’ve weathered the storm, and my story is a testament to resilience, survival, and the profound impact of human connection and kindness. In the future, I hope to become a mental health ambassador where I can help others going through similar struggles.

Mental health is a broad spectrum, ranging from moments of euphoria to the depths of despair, all prevalent in my age group. I recognised the need for open dialogue, urging men to prioritise mental health and break down the barriers of social stigmas.

The ultimate responsibility is with the government, there’s got to be better funding and research into mental health. It can’t just be “I feel sad” and  “I feel good” but looking at ADHD, autism and fibromyalgia, which Mum’s got. I believe we should live in a world where these support systems are easily accessible to all. There needs to be a better support system, but it’s also got to come from within yourself.

I hope to provide a message that sometimes it can be a five-minute friendly conversation with somebody when you’ve just bought a coffee in a coffee shop, they can change your day from “oh, my god, everything’s going wrong” to “oh, that was nice”. A little smile on someone’s face can make a big difference.

My evolution is ongoing, and I continue to grapple with mental health challenges. However, the lessons learned from the Yes Tribe, the kindness of strangers, and my resilience within have become guiding lights. Through sharing my story, I hope to contribute to the dialogue around mental health, break the stigma, and inspire others to embark on their transformative journeys. 

This tale was written by John Mathews based on the interview with Tales to Inspire 

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