Powering through: Dealing with Depression but Still Keeping it Moving.
I've suffered from depression, and anxiety since before I can remember. Luckily, I've always been very high functioning, although certain things have always been and will always be challenging for me. The details aren't super important, but I just wanted to note that depression manifests in very strange ways. It doesn't mean I'm sad every minute of every day. It doesn't mean I don't believe the positive things I say. If anything I'm more positive because of all the beautiful and inspiring things I know are possible despite my depression. This is why I'm particularly fond of the little things in life. Bike rides, snacks, playing with my pets, hanging out with my family, and trying new things. They bring my immense joy. Bike racing also brings me immense joy, even when it's hard. That doesn't mean I don't have my low points.
Since i'm pretty much on the other side of this last wave of depression, I'm ready to talk about it.
Basically I've been going through one of the most peculiar bouts of depression I've experienced in a very long time. As a long time sufferer, I have MASTERED the art of functional depression.
I spent most of the Fall dealing with being sick, I tried to train through it, but in retrospect, I'm confident I was just making it worse. When I finally realized pushing through wasn't working, I took some time off to heal. It worked. But then, I was left with that dreadful feeling that I was incredibly behind.
I'd convinced myself to press on, but you can't start prep for a season that starts in January... In January. It's a recipe for nothing less than disaster. So there I was, mentally preparing myself to push through. Never ready to stop, but it's not a great feeling knowing you're not ready despite having worked really hard to be ready. Alas, i'm one of the humans that get sick and stuff, so I dealt with the cards as they were presented. The race must go on.
The early season was rough. I never felt like myself, and it was incredibly frustrating. I had this elaborate season planned. I was going to go to Joe Martin, Tour of the Gila, Redlands, Northstar, and ToAD, and I was going to be great. Except now, neither were looking very promising (going or being great). I didn't ask for guest spots, and readjusted my plans.
I finally found a coach that would take me seriously... (that is whole blog post in itself), I put on my big girl britches, and powered through my early season races, and I never felt bad about it, but I was also never satisfied. Which is a good thing, because there wasn't much to be satisfied about.
I knew I was getting stronger, but I was going to have to spend that time getting shelled because my competition was ready, and I was not. I pressed on, kept training, and kept racing. I was finally starting to feel good again, and then I crashed and hit my head. WTF...
One step forward, two steps back. I took a little break and got back to it. You don't mess with head injuries... NOPE. I waited until I was sure I didn't have a serious concussion. I don't think I've ever been as mentally relentless in a set of bike races as I have in the past few months. My body and my brain were on two completely different levels.
I'm not going to lie, it was embarrassing popping off of the back practically every single race. I'd hang on as long as I could, then pop off the back and give a regular head nod as the neutral support vehicle tooted the horn as he left me behind. Sometimes i'd catch back on a few times before my body couldn't do it anymore, and sometimes I'd finish with the pack. But not once did I feel satisfied.
So now, here we are, my body and my brain are finally feeling like they are one accord. I've had a few months under my belt with my current coach, and things are really starting to take shape. I've been seeing the chiropractor regularly to help with my scoliosis and anxiety, and I've finally gotten a bike fit that seems to have resolved a lot of lingering issues.
I feel ready.
Due to an unfortunate turn of events, my previous plans for Northstar and ToAD disintegrated into nothing. I had no team, no plans, and was ready to pack it in and stay home next month. The women's team liaison suggested I race solo, which to me seemed silly and possibly not worth it. I talked it over with my coach. She urged me to get myself over the Minneapolis, my fitness has arrived, and I am ready to race. I trust her, and again, I feel ready.
So here I go. I called in a few favors and my village has assembled to make it happen. In two weeks, I'm shipping off to Minneapolis to give it whatever I've got. I feel ready. Let's do this.
btw.. I've had an amazing support network of friends and family throughout this whole thing. If you suffer from depression, just know you are never alone. For serious, talk to someone you trust or hire a professional. I am a strong believer of therapy, it got me through my early twenties at a time where life seemed pointless. It's not pointless, and you are beautiful, wonderful and irreplaceable, take care of yourself.