I’ve not been writing on this blog quite so much recently. I’ve been keeping busy though. Issue 78 of Singletrack Magazine is on sale at the moment.

The mag have been brave enough to commit 10 whole pages to a subject that I think is important, and often not talked about: depression. A real risk for a magazine about riding bikes. Not everyone wants to read about someone else’s lows while they put their feet up with a brew. The editorial team could very easily have run another (great, as always) article about riding in the alps, or playing on bikes in the woods. They didn’t though, and the feedback from readers has been overwhelmingly positive, so I hope the magazine feel the risk paid off.

I also have a little column about building up a new bike tucked away in the cyclocross “bonus” section. If you are local to Leeds, then Garage Bikes have a few copies left, be quick though, they are selling… Fast.

Things have been a bit quiet on here, haven’t they?

Sorry about that.

I’ve got a few half-started posts that I haven’t had the heart or the guts to finish off and publish. It’s been a bit of a hard few weeks. It’s difficult to summarise or articulate exactly why, or how it has been “hard”, but I’ll have a go.

As some background, those of you who don’t know me might want to look here. The last year has largely been one of positive experiences. I’ve had wonderful adventures, met new life-long friends, spent more time on two wheels than I have done for the last couple of years combined. The good moments have left me on a high for days. I’ve rarely had chance to dwell on the low points. I’ve avoid reflecting by jumping to the next target, the next race, the next adventure. I started the year taking 40mg of Citalopram daily. I reduced this to 30mg, to 20mg and finally stopped taking it. Drug free. Just me, and my brain for company. The numbing affects of the anti-depressants were a double edged sword. While they took the edge off any lows, they also dulled the highs. I felt fluffy around the sides. A few weeks after taking my final tablet, there was a sharpness to my thoughts that I had not felt for years. Broken-glass-crisp. Alongside this came inevitable wobbles, but they were manageable. I was strong. I rode each one out, sometimes literally.

Slowly, and initially imperceptibly, these wobbles have become more frequent. As they have done so, other symptoms have returned. Another cloudiness has descended. A darker, heavier, cloudiness. No marshmallow fluffiness. Simple tasks feel harder, impossible. My mood has plummeted. The event-horizon of my future has reduced to a day, or hour. Further ahead feels untouchable, scary, too complicated.

Biking remains my retreat. My reason for getting up. My reason for daring to think further ahead.

But, the depression has overstepped a line. I don’t think I can fight it without help anymore (and at this point I should say thank you to the friends who I have confided in, and who have universally been utterly, utterly wonderful when it mattered). Time to bring in some support. I’m going back to the doctors tomorrow. I think I will ask to start medication again. I have mixed feelings about this. The logical, sensible part of me says part of my body isn’t working. To help it out, I can take some pills that will make me feel better. Why wouldn’t I? I happily take a paracetemol when I have a headache. Another part of me feels like I have failed, like I was stupid to dare think that I would be strong enough to cope without meds.

Ah well, better keep fighting. There are too many potential adventures to be had, too many important people to be there for to give up now.

Maintaining focus

A crap work week ahead. “Other stuff” louding my thoughts. Steep walls to climb, with a tired mind. To be honest, I want to retreat into full hibernation mode. Sleep all day and night, and let things drift over me. Maybe I’ll feel better when I wake up. Maybe everything will just sort itself out.

I can’t do that, it’ll be the death of me (metaphorically, and to an extent, literally. My darkest thoughts happen when I let myself hide).

I want to get the bus home. Lock the door and stay on known ground. Even if that known ground isn’t very good for me.

I’ve got my running kit with me at work. It’s the first step towards breaking the cycle. Run home. Meet Dave and go to the gym. Kick the living shit out of the demons that are gnawing away at my self-belief, my strength, my life. Get home and feel proactive. Feel like a normal person, despite an abnormal need to exercise. Feel able to stand tall and face another day.