One of our members, Tog Porter, took on his own version of the Kiltwalk this year to raise funds for Bipolar Scotland. Tog has mobility issues due to arthritis in his knees and hips and is unable to walk lengthy distances, so he set a target of 5 miles and would be completing roughly 200 yards at a time with the help of a walking stick.
He gave himself from the end of June to the 10th of October to get to the 5 mile mark. Once he got going however, Tog ended up smashing his target in just 28 days!
Rather than splash out on a kilt he instead bought a cheap tartan throw and one of his talented neighbours kindly made it into one for him especially for this challenge. He also made sure he had a kilt for his dog, Princess, who joined him for many of his walks.
Tog lives on a farm in Barhill, South Ayrshire and did the bulk of his walking on a rough farm track, measuring his distances using the GPS app Strava. Being able to see the progress he was making proved to be a great motivator and kept him going throughout.
Tog has found that doing the Kiltwalk has been beneficial to him physically and mentally, so much so that he plans to carry on his regular walks going forward. Having a target to aim for motivated him to get out the house each day and he was able to increase the distance he walked as time went on, recording his furthest distance on the last day of his challenge.
“I have health issues which make walking difficult but doing this for Bipolar Scotland has helped to make some of my muscles stronger. Even though I walk slowly with a stick, I managed to increase the amount I walked each day and today I hit a record of 792 yards! Being out in the fresh air is good for me, as I normally lead a very sedentary life indoors and I recommend it to anyone experiencing a mental illness.”
Tog has lived with bipolar for the majority of his life and has been an inpatient at various hospitals during that time. Unfortunately, he was misdiagnosed and treated for depression which only made things more difficult. It has caused a lot of problems for him, especially with relationships, money, and employment. He was eventually diagnosed with bipolar around 15 years ago.
Getting the diagnosis was a relief, as it made the difficulties he had been having finally make sense and he was able to get the right treatment and support. It took a couple of years to find the medication that worked best for him but the extreme moods he experienced are now under much better control. Tog discovered Bipolar Scotland some time ago and attended one of our self-management courses in Ayr.
“The course took place over a weekend, and I learnt a lot about myself and how the illness affects me. I also met other people in the same situation, and it is helpful to know that I am not alone. There are some things that only other people with bipolar can understand. Bipolar Scotland have helped to give me a new lease of life and this Kiltwalk is a way for me to give something back. I want to raise as much money as possible for them. Like all charities they have been hit hard by the pandemic, yet they have adapted and continued to support people with bipolar throughout the last couple of years.”
Tog’s efforts have been nothing short of inspiring and we are grateful to have so many supporters willing to dedicate their time and effort to helping us achieve our goal of improving the lives of people living with bipolar.