#75 How to turn your pain into your purpose with Dan Keeley

Back in the summer of 2010, Dan Keeley suffered a full blown manic episode in Italy that made him believe he was ‘the chosen one’.

Soon after, he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

Now he’s running 1250 miles from Rome to Home to share his story, raise awareness of bipolar and mental health issues and keep men alive by talking.

In today’s episode, Dan shares his inspiring journey with us, from that pivotal manic episode in Italy, to his three year recovery journey and how as Dan puts it, he’s been able to turn his pain into his purpose.


  • What Dan’s first manic episode felt like

  • How and who helped to pull him through

  • Dan’s advice for anyone recently diagnosed with bipolar

  • How Dan came up with the idea to run 1250 miles!

  • Dan’s biggest fear

  • How you can get involved and help raise awareness of male suicide.

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Were you in pain when this was happening? [17:50]

What stopped you from taking your life? [21:19]

Was there a fear of a relapse? [25:55]

What would you like to tell someone at the beginning of their journey being diagnosed with bipolar? [27:00]

How did you come up with the idea (for Rome to Home) and what does this mean to you? [31:37]

What do you want to talk to men listening who are feeling down, or blue? [35:36]

Does being an advocate for men’s health sometimes stifle you from speaking about your problems? [39:52]

What is one of your biggest fears about this journey? [43:07]

What is one thing you’re grateful for? [45:15]

What does being unconventional mean for you? [51:09]




On suffering and dealing with his first manic episode:

“It felt incredible at the time, every one of my senses was on a different level… I remember everything, absolutely everything everything.” [16:12]

“Imagine waking up and genuinely believing that you‘ve got all the answers, and you’ve got so much conviction. And imagine waking up the next day and having zero conviction in what you represent and the words that were leaving your mouth… I couldn’t trust my thoughts… I went into a crippling depression for six months… I just didn’t want to be here.” [18:34]

“At that time, I was still feeling even though it was sadness, I was still feeling. But when I came out of psychiatric wards, there was a period of time.” [20:40]

“It is all about the people, that stopped me from doing the worst.” [21:44]

“I did discover the minimalist movement….I started a cathartic process of stripping everything back to the bare basics.”  [22:00]

“The less burdens you have in your life, the more capacity you have to love.” [23:50]

“I’m a massive believer that when suffering becomes meaningful, it ceases to become suffering.” [24:46]


On Dan’s advice for someone at the beginning of a bipolar diagnosis:

“It takes time, your mood is going to change over your recovery period, the professionals are doing the best they can for you. It took me three years to find the medication that works for me… Trust the professionals.

“It’s really hard to speak to someone on the way up to a manic episode. Keep an eye on your mates.

“If you’re entering that depressive state, you’ve got to get to a point where you can start opening up about how you are genuinely feeling...It wasn’t until I really started speaking to my friends and family about how I was feeling that I started to rally them around me.” [27:39]


On Rome to Home:

“My first graduate job, I was spending a lot of time on Google earth, and in between researching sports facilities I’d be zooming out and I started thinking the earth is just one big playground and maybe I could take on an adventure one day….After my manic episode and my recovery, I started getting this compulsion that I really wanted to share this...and I thought why don’t I go one step further and share my journey to give others permission to speak up and normalise the conversation.” [32:23]

“It was New Year’s 2016 and I’m lying in bed and thinking I’m going to fricking do this… It had to incorporate Italy… I’m thinking Rome, Rome, Rome… Rome to Home.” [33:30]


On what Dan would like to say to any men feeling down:

“I think talking is a really strong thing to do and I think everybody is suffering on one way or another…. If there is one singular message I do want to get across to guys in that dark place, it is a gift to offer your friends and family the opportunity to help you...People want to help people - try to put yourself in the shoes of your family members - wouldn’t you want to help them and feel honoured if they came to you… It’s alright to talk.” [35:51]

“You don’t need the words, you don't really have to talk - just letting your friend and loved ones know you don’t have the words and can we just hang out., and if it comes it comes” [38:59]

“I think I’m getting better at being honest.” [40:05]



Website: Rometohome.com

Donate: www.rometohome.com/donate

Social media: @Iamdankeeley

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