- By Alexandra Bassingham
- BBC News
A former Army major from Alcatraz who swam dressed as a convict said he felt it „symbolized” the way mental illness makes you a prisoner of your mind.
Sally Orange, 49, of Salisbury completed the Escape Aquathlon and the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon at the former island prison in San Francisco.
She believes in seeing the „invisible disease of mental illness.”
Ms Orange aims to raise £50,000 for mental health charities by 2023 through a series of extreme challenges.
Over the weekend, the adventure athlete completed a 750m swim in the icy waters surrounding Alcatraz, followed by a 5km run in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon on Sunday.
After swimming 1.5 miles to shore, she said the current was „really strong,” so she swam an extra mile.
„For so long I’ve felt like I’ve been fighting the current and getting nowhere like how I feel about mental health,” she said.
„Then I accepted it, went to a different place than I had planned, and then had to retrace my route…
„It felt so symbolic that I just let it go and went ashore to find my way back to where I was supposed to be.”
„There were people all around asking for help, people being pulled to shore, being pulled up on paddle boards and there was a lot of chaos … it was very symbolic.”
Between the current ups and downs of mountain biking, he said, the similarities to the challenges in mental health are stark.
“The course didn’t always go to plan and was bumpy, people definitely dropped out, but it’s credit to you and knowing you made it.
„Then, when you come up against another battle, you can build up your resilience and use it for the next round.”
Ms Orange, who has had her own battle with mental health, said „fear would have stopped her” from doing the event in the past.
„My take is that you are more capable than you think,” she said.
„I’m definitely not the fastest or the fittest, but it’s not about coming first, it’s about changing your mindset and your own goals to be happy with your achievement.”
He said he hopes people will soon be able to talk about mental illness „like we talk about the common cold.”
„Całkowity introwertyk. Nieprzejednany specjalista od sieci. Przyjazny fanatyk bekonu. Student ekstremalnych. Miłośnik piwa. Organizator.”