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700 miles by bus for Maytree & FMA

£1,400 of £2,000 goal

Raised by 64 people in 12 months
Even though my adventure on the road is over, I’m still collecting further donations, so you haven’t missed the window. Please read the updates from me on this page to keep up to date with what’s still going on.

Thanks so much to everyone who’s supported me along the way so far!

What?

I’m going to be taking to the roads from the 1st to the 7th July, travelling from Northampton to the Scottish Border and back using nothing but local bus services. No trains… no coaches… no shortcuts!

How?
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the autumn of 2016, and after battling with local councils for a bit, I was lucky enough to find myself in possession of a disabled bus pass which allows me free travel on bus services throughout the UK. With a lot of careful planning, mapping, and scheduling, I’ve plotted a route to the Scottish border and back which will take 7 days, and cover approximately 700 miles. Each day will involve multiple changes and in total I’ll be spending around 36 hours on public transport… not for the faint hearted! I’ve been lucky enough to find sponsorship for overnight accommodation when I don’t have access to crash space with friends.

Why?
I was diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety at 18, and with borderline/emotionally unstable personality disorder when I was 26. In the spring of 2016, I had a serious mental health crisis and had the extraordinary luck of being taken in by Maytree Suicide Respite Centre - they pretty much saved my life and sent me on a new direction in my life, which has re-written my future for the better.

As well as living with mental health difficulties my entire life, I was diagnosed with fibromylagia in 2016. Fibromyalgia is a ways off being fully understood and people like me suffer daily in the face of there being few treatment options when it comes to managing the symptoms - Fibromyalgia Action UK provides essential information and support to sufferers, carers, and medical professionals alike.

I have received a great deal of essential help over the years from charities like these, and I desperately want to give something back.

What I’m doing isn’t just about raising money - it’s about raising awareness. This trip will be gruelling and painful and I don’t expect to get through it without a lot of hardship and heartache, but I want to use that struggle to highlight the fact that these illnesses aren’t “all or nothing” afflictions. Just because I’m ill doesn’t mean I can’t achieve great things, but equally, just because I can achieve great things doesn’t mean I’m not ill. I think it’s very important for society to recognise that.

So..?
Please take a moment to donate what you can to my fundraising efforts, and I will do my best to keep you informed and entertained in the run up to my adventure, and along the way. I will be filming the trip itself and if I have enough internet access on my travels, I'll be uploading footage as I go along. Those videos will be published to the social media mentioned below.

You can like my Facebook Page  for more formal updates, and you can also join the Sal Headsquirrels’ Adventure Army group where I hope to gather together a great gang of new friends to cheer me along the way (both online and in person) and give hour by hour updates as I make my way north and back! Any updates, whether on Facebook, Youtube, or to this campaign will be highlighted on this page as I go along so please do come back and check out my progress over the next few months. And please share this campaign and encourage your friends and family to donate too. These are such important and overlooked charities and I want to do everything to help them out.

Thanks for donating, and I’ll see you on the road!
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A new fundraiser in the making... and a chance to support my animated Headsquirrels!

It’s been almost exactly six months since my madcap adventure up and down the country, and yet it seems like a lifetime ago. I’m in the very early stages of planning to take another fundraising bus journey, this time to Land’s End and back. In order to make it in a timeframe which would still be challenging, I’m looking at many more hours put in each day, and likely a longer overall timespan. I need to look fully at my options before committing to anything, and it may come to the point I have to revise my destination, but I’ll be sure to let you know when things are more concrete.

Since my last update, I have also embarked on another project. Before (but especially during) my fundraiser, I noted a number of everyday things I was expected to tackle which gave me a high level of anxiety – anxieties which many wouldn’t even see as a hurdle. I had the spark of an idea. To create an illustrated book of these anxieties, not only as a way of showing those with mental health disorders like me that they are not alone, but also to shine a light on our everyday difficulties for the benefit of those around us. The working title was a no-brainer… 101 Headsquirrels: A Spotter’s Guide!

Over the past few months I’ve been playing around with the concept but it became rapidly clear that finding an illustrator for what would be initially an unpaid job was going to run the book into the ground before I’d even begun. I starting thinking of other ways I could find an outlet for the pictures and stories in my head. Since then I have started teaching myself animation, and the concept has now morphed into 101 Headsquirrels: An Animated Spotter’s Guide. For those of you who follow my Facebook page, you will have already seen the inroads I’ve been making, but for everyone else, I wanted to direct you towards the work I’m doing, all of which I’ve been publishing through Patreon. I’m hoping to find generous backers who will help me with moves to help the project – software upgrades, eventually turning the animation into an accompanying print book, covering my web hosting costs, and generally getting by so I can concentrate on creating. In thanks I’ll be giving my “patrons” access to exclusive behind-the-scenes videos, blogs, design sketches, and even the opportunity to have a character based on you added to a finished video!

Right now the content is based around my learning process, with the animations and designs I’m working on being side-projects to help me refine my skills before embarking on 101 Headsquirrels properly. I’ve already produced a small print book which was created as a Christmas present for a close friend, and I’ll be working on animating it over the next few months. I won’t ramble on – you can get the full details and check out my work so far over on my Patreon page.

https://www.patreon.com/headsquirrels

If you’d like to support me you can do so by donating as little as $1, but there are many tiers of support available, all with their own set of rewards! If you're still on the fence, you can follow my account to keep up-to-date with any exciting developments.

Every little bit helps and you would have my endless gratitude, not only for your donations, but also for your faith in me and what I’m building!

And that’s it! I shall send a further update in a month or so – hopefully with more details about my next madcap fundraising trip! Thanks for all your support, both last summer, and going forward.
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All your generous donations (minus processing fees) have now been sent off to Maytree Respite Centre and Fibromyalgia Action UK - FMAUK. Thank you all so much for your support and cheerleading over the past few months. The follow-up charity event will probably end up being in the new year due to venue and artist availability, but rest assured, it WILL happen. Please keep following this page or join the Shenanigans club night Facebook group for updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/clubshenanigans/
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It’s been a while, I know!

I’m going to try and stop myself apologising for being too ill to keep the ball rolling lately. In the end, the whole point of this fundraiser was to do something way outside my comfort and cope zone (it wouldn’t have been worthwhile otherwise!), so I need to let myself off the hook for having found myself totally burned out afterwards.

To a certain extent, adrenaline and not-having-any-other-choice was what kept me going through my week up and down the country without any extreme mental or physical horrors. When you get to a point where you don’t have to live off that adrenaline anymore, the crash can be excruciating. Due to having a fortuitously-timed pain treatment at the hospital prior to my trip, I’m glad to say that my physical fallout wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, though I have been experiencing the longest spell of general low energy I’ve had for quite some time. However, it seems that most of the toll has been taken on my mental health, and soon after returning it became evident that my brain was closing for business. I kept looking at my to-do list and thinking “just a couple more days rest then I can get to this”, which then turned into “a week more rest”, then two, then a month passed and I still haven’t gotten to the point where I can stomach running my life above an “absolute necessity” level. My guilt over this got so bad that I had to take everything off my main to-do list and stick it in a “backlog” folder where I couldn’t see it and therefore get stressed out about it. I’m finally reaching a point where I can shunt a thing at a time back every couple of days, which is why I’m here now, doing this update!

That’s a lot of straight talk about the realities I’m facing, but I appear to have avoided apologising, which is good.

I’ll just take a quick moment to round up some stuff and lay out what I’ll be getting around to doing soon - hopefully within the next month.

If you weren’t aware, reports and whatnot during my epic journey were going on over at the Sal Headsquirrels’ Adventure Army group on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/groups/salheadsquirrels/ . There are videos and pictures spanning the entire seven days, so please do go over and check that out to get a picture of what it was like. On top of that, I was keeping a video diary on the Sal Headsquirrels Youtube channel, so I encourage you to go and have a watch - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkaZgQPxcbH3B8b-kf0zkLQ . Likes and subscriptions are very much appreciated as I’m hoping to carry on using the channel in the future for other kind-of-related things.

All those videos do far more justice to how things went than anything I could possibly write, so I’m not even going to attempt to type up a full account, though I will be doing a short piece for the FMA UK website as soon as I’m able.

It seems ridiculous, a month after the fact, to solicit people for more donations… but that’s exactly what I’m going to do! So far I’ve raised over £1,300 for Maytree Suicide Respite Centre and Fibromyalgia Action UK, but my goal was (and still is) a round £2,000, so to anyone who meant to donate and forgot, and to anyone heading off to view all my videos who’s then inspired to add some money to the pile, please do this as soon as possible! One of the things I need to work on soon is editing together all the journey footage and adding some new bits to paint a complete picture of the project - before, during, and after. Once that’s complete I will be doing a HUGE push to get that out and seen, pull in some more donations, and then the total will be divided up and sent off to my two charities. I thank them for their patience when it comes to the delay with that happening!

Aside from that, the next priority is to start work on setting up the post-trip club night fundraiser in Northampton. The provisional dates for this keep getting pushed back, mainly for the sake of my sanity and having enough time to organise and publicise. I really, really want to get this sorted and locked in for November now - it’s my birthday month so if I pull my finger out, that’ll save me having to plan a separate party! However, getting in touch with the people I need to set all that in motion is one of the things my brain isn’t capable of doing right now, so any movement on that front may take a little while to come.

If you’ve made it as far as reading this, thanks so much for putting up with my rambling, and for being one of my awesome supporters and cheerleaders! Again, please go check out my videos, turn out your pockets for two amazing charities if you haven’t already, and keep your eyes peeled for more news soon!
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IT'S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!

Maaaaan the reality of this has hit me like a tonne of bricks in the past 12-ish hours. Had my first cry last night, and today my stomach is full of vultures. But my loins are in the process of girding, and I know I can do this.

Once I've headed out tomorrow morning I'll be posting updates, commentary, photos, and videos (some live) from Sal Headsquirrels' Adventure Army group on Facebook, so if you'd like to follow me on my journey you can join up at https://www.facebook.com/groups/salheadsquirrels/ - and make sure notifications are on, otherwise you'll miss the fun!
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£1,400 of £2,000 goal

Raised by 64 people in 12 months
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