Back in 2008 I was at the point in my life that I could hardly leave the house.
I was suffering with chronic anxiety and depression, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and go to sleep. There was no colour in my life. It was just greyness! You have probably heard about depression and some of you may think ‘Oh God, why didn’t you just pull yourself together?’ If you have have suffered with it it’s just not that simple.
I had zero confidence! Nothing in my life excited me! I was an educated guy and the only job I could handle doing was being a Bin Man. It meant I didn’t have to talk to people and pretty much all of my day was spent staring at dustbins and the back of a truck!
Believe me when I say life was a living hell!
Then in 2009 the world of Apple entered my life. I was browsing the App Store one day and came across an iPhone app called The App Incubator that allows everyday people the opportunity to send in ideas for their iPhone apps and possibly have them developed.
My concentration was shot to pieces due to me suffering from insomnia. The app incubator was my ray of light.
I had always been the type of person who wanted to help others so came up with an app called Problem Halved that allowed users to seek advice from fellow users. I just love social networking! Anyway the idea was chosen out out over 30,000 ideas to be developed. For the first time in 8 years I had something in my life that excited me!
I had an email from MEDL Mobile, the app developer behind the app incubator, to say that they wanted to develop my idea. I was so happy – it meant so much to me that someone believed in me! I put together a large campaign to try and promote the app. There was a massive press interest. On one level I felt great at what I had accomplished in generating the press attention but on the other hand I’d generated a lot of interest from TV news channels and newspapers all wanting to interview me.
I was still extremley shy due to the anxiety and depression. I kept this to myself and only very close family knew what I was going through.
I decided to change my attitude and try and deal with my problems head on.
I nervously accepted the interview offers.
I was invited down to London to meet with Jason Bradbury from the Gadget Show. I was petrified as I knew that the show goes out to millions of people. Whilst there I had to make an exucse and go to the toilet. I had a series of panic attacks. It was horrible. I looked into the mirror and told myself ‘Rob you can either let this beat you or you can do everything you can make yourself better’. I took the latter option.
I did the interview feeling very nervous inside but outwardly I looked fine and the TV crew commented on how well I came across on the interview.
The problem with suffering with anxiety and depression is that people don’t always see it. If you broke your leg, 9 times out of 10 you would get a lot of sympathy as it’s a very visible problem.
The next 6 months were a blur. I was interviewed on national and international television.The colour started to come back into my life.
I was invited to Hollywood to visit MEDL Mobile the company that had developed my app.There was one problem though. I would be staying with one of the co founders and his family. I was not sure I could handle it. I accepted his invitation as I knew I HAD to test myself.
I got to London Heathrow airport and felt awful. I was extremely on edge and it all felt too much. I phoned my girlfriend and said ‘Look I can’t do it’. I was about to back out and come up with an excuse as to not being able to go to the USA. After a bit of a chat and convincing from my girlfriend I stepped onto the plane. I felt very emotional in the sense that getting on the aeroplane was the first step in getting the old Rob Shoesmith back.
I spent a wonderful 3 days with the co founders boss and lovely family. On my return I had a good think I really wanted to be involved in the world of apps. It was one thing that allowed me to focus my brain and not think about the bad stuff.
I helped other people who had their app ideas develop to promote them and in 2011 I was offered a full time job promoting various iPhone apps. I was over the moon!
I then came up with a social media experiment to camp 10 nights for an iPhone. I wanted to see if I could survive outside an Apple store without spending any of my own money and rely on the good nature of people to help me get by. In all I generated over £30,000′s worth of sponsorship from 150 companies worldwide. In a funny kind of way the experiment was an extreme type of therapy knowing that it would put me outside of my comfort zone.
During the dark years I had lost touch with many of my friends. I wanted to get out there and meet people! The experiment was very tough and eye opening.
I connected with a lot of homeless people who helped me to adjust with living outside for a fairly long period of time. Many of them spoke of having suffered with some mental health problems whilst being on the street. I was fortunate in the sense that I had a very supportive family who helped me when I was at my worst. The mere thought of being on the streets and suffering like that is unimaginable. It would have been horrendous.
Many times during my experiment I was at the point of packing up camp and going home. I was physically and mentally drained. Seeing the homeless upset me greatly. I promised some of them my camping equipment at the end of my experiment and knew that they would need it a lot more than me! This drove me on to finish my experiment. I met so many people whilst in line that I would have never ever connected with if I hadn’t done it.
After camping 10 nights for an iPhone in a rather bizarre social media experiment I’m starting to get itchy feet and have a NEW experiment idea up my sleeve!
- Would it be possible to get around the whole of the United Kingdom and get my picture taken outside of every Apple store? At the time of writing this appeal there are over 30 stores in the UK!
I plan on writing a book about my experiences. Some would say it was crazy, but I think differently! I believe it will be an epic adventure and will meet some very interesting characters along the way. If I’m being honest over the years due to my shyness it has meant I have not fully lived! During this new experiment I want to live a bit and meet some new people who share the same interests as me.
As it was so challenging to complete my previous 10 night camping trip without spending any of my own money, I’ve decided to do that again for this adventure too. I love crowd funded projects and the interaction that happens with them.
I love connecting with like-minded people interested in mobile apps and technology! Your help and influence will very much shape the format and content of the book. The beauty of road trips is that you can never tell what is going to happen on them. This excites me! Plus I don’t like the traditional package holiday!
I will be taking to social media and blogging to involve you all. You will decide on some of the places in the cities Apple Stores are located I should go and visit. I would like the experiment to be as over the top as possible!
I would love to do the experiment in style and perhaps travel to the various Apple stores in a rather unorthodox fashion. Examples include perhaps arriving at one of the stores by speedboat, by a camel or perhaps even in a monster truck. I have held back in many ways for too long!
I have found over the last few years that if you don’t ask you don’t get, so I guess there is no harm asking . I want the experiment to be a little ‘trippy’ and plan on visiting and staying in rather unusual places across the UK.
I could simply arrange a trip around the UK and visit Apple stores on a budget with no community interaction, but where is the fun in that? It would also be very cool to meet up with some of you guys whilst on the tour!
If the experiment isn’t completed within 12 months from the campaign start I will donate half the money to a front-end homeless shelter and the other half to a mental health charity.
Oh and if the UK leg is a success I will be taking the adventure overseas!
Help turn this dream adventure into a reality and share, share, share across all of your social media! I will also be trying to raise some awareness for the homeless and mental health whilst on the tour and hopefully let people suffering know that there is light at the end of the tunnel!
More info on my campaign can be found at
You can email me at email@example.com