But, finally, we got back out on the road. To say I am relieved is an understatement. It is not that I have not ridden at all. I have. Short, quiet rides on my Brava (aka The Therepist) where I have just needed to escape and think. Mainly though, my rides have been to either take my son for a quiet ride on the local dirt roads or it has been a ride over to the Memorial Park to sit and remember my mum.
But now it is time to get back to business.
It was odd, because I actually felt nervous getting ready to ride again. I was slightly anxious and cautious as I got ready. Was I ready to do this? Had 12 weeks been enough? In my heart I knew it was time. So I took a deep breath and I followed my heart.
So what had kept me off my bike? What had stopped me doing the one thing that I really loved?
That secret D word that most don't like to talk about. And as I have learnt, not many like to hear about it either. But I have never been a person to shy away from the truth and won't start now. Lucky for me, my depression has been triggered from a life event - Mum's death. Knowing this is the cause has made it relatively easy to treat. No little white happy pills were needed to help me smile again. (this is what we always called Mum's anti-depressants)
It was around 3 months after Mum had died that I realised that I was starting to spiral down. I just wasn't me. Lucky for me, depression and mental illness was not something new. So I knew what I was facing and I knew exactly where to get help.
In the many years of dealing with my Mum's mental health issues, I had often turned to Beyond Blue for help on how to deal with her. So in her death, I turned to them again to work out how to pull myself out of the hole.
- I was struggling, and not just with the fact that I had lost my mum.
- I couldn't concentrate at work. I just got the bare minimum done and nothing more.
- I felt like I was on auto pilot all of the time.
- I starting drinking again. (my version of drinking is 1 glass of wine each night)
- I didn't enjoy the everyday activities.
- I felt unhappy
- My favourite saying became "whatever"
- I was angry and inpatient most of the time.
- I was comfort eating.
- I was wearing my baggy oversized clothes so I could just hide in them.
- I was tired all of the time, but could never sleep.
- I had headaches.
- I put on 6 kilos.
- I was sad.
Initially I thought that I could just distract myself and throw myself into exercise and training. But then I realised that I couldn't do it. I was suffering from a health issue that I needed to address or it was just going to get worse.
So what did I do?
I started to talk to people. I got the support I needed. And it wasn't where I thought the support would come from. I reached out and only a few hands reached back. But they are hands that I will never forget. Because if it wasn't for them, I would still be sitting in that hole.
My recovery has been solely based on talking. Sharing how I feel. And not worrying about what tomorrow will bring.
Getting back to "normal" is still a long way off. As I discovered on my first ride back, I just loved riding by myself and felt overly anxious when met with a bunch who invited me to join them. Unlike me, I didn't want to ride with them and was just happy to hang off the back and watch them ride towards the horizon.
I hope that in the next few weeks I will be able to head to Melbourne to ride with my old crew - the Liv/giant girls. I am conscious of my health and won't force myself before I am ready. But the best thing I have learnt on my path to recovery is to not worry about what comes next. State of mind does a lot to control our direction, so rather than worry how I might feel - ill just take the steps forward and deal with it when I get there.
A quote I love "Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday"
And I have learnt that crossing the bridge is no so bad when you have a good mate to lean on!