Exploring Open Water Swimming and Mental Health with Julie Ridge

Exploring Open Water Swimming and Mental Health with Julie Ridge

A live webinar with real time Questions and Answers following a screening of Zac Norrington’s short documentary film BREATHE.

On Julie Ridge’s 25th birthday, September 9th, 1982, she became the 242nd person to swim from England to France, in a time of 17 hours 55 minutes. One year prior, she had never swum more than a mile. In response to her English Channel swim ‘post event depression,’ the next July, 1983, she became the first person to swim two consecutive laps around Manhattan Island, a 56 mile swim, in a little over 21 hours – earning her a guest spot on The David Letterman Show.

Annual athletic challenges balanced her careers in the theater, writing and public speaking, until she ‘hung up her goggles’ at the behest of her husband. When work dried up and her (now ex-) husband declared he’d had an affair, ‘needed some space,’ and moved out on January 1, 1991 (happy New Year!), a disease that had apparently been lying in wait ‘popped out’ and Ridge experienced her first, full-blown, near fatal manic episode.

In April of 1991 she landed unceremoniously on a psychiatric ward and received a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder I. Zac Norrington’s short documentary film BREATHE chronicles her double circumnavigation around Manhattan, descent into psychosis, and lifelong bipolar disease management. Today, Ridge is a practicing psychiatric social worker with over 30 years experience. This year, she celebrates the 10th year Anniversary of her nonprofit organization, the Frank Ridge Memorial Foundation, founded in loving memory of her father, dedicated to living well with mental health conditions through awareness and understanding. And, with the help of a support network of loving friends and family, and a brilliant psychiatrist, Julie has remained treatment compliant and hospital and mania free since 1991.

Post screening Webinar Outline discussion:

• The highs and lows experienced by the long distance swimmer.

• The phenomenon known as the “almost-halfway-there” phase, a pain threshold which exists in most every long term effort, when quitting becomes a very real possibility.

• Coping with the ‘post event depression’ experienced after completing a major challenge.

• The meditative and therapeutic solace of open water; sensory deprivation’s unique ability to reduce anxiety and quell anger; and the life-affirming value of practicing one’s mental fortitude, determination and resilience in pursuit of personal goals.

• How long distance swimming stands alone in it’s healing powers and the unity of our worldwide, vast, inclusive community.

Key takeaway:

• The importance and power of sharing our stories in increasing awareness and understanding of mental illness.

• Julie emphasizes that she has never intended for her swims or story to be ‘inspiring’ or thought of as ‘courageous.’ Rather, Ridge says, “It is my responsibility to share my story. I feel that if more of us told our stories, fewer of us would kill ourselves and more of us could live healthfully, happily, and longer.”

August 23, 2023 @3 PM EDT

New York, USA Wed, 23 Aug 2023 at 15:00 EDT
Los Angeles, USA Wed, 23 Aug 2023 at 12:00 PDT
London, United Kingdom Wed, 23 Aug 2023 at 20:00 BST

Exploring Open Water Swimming and Mental Health with Julie Ridge

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