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Old 03-26-14, 11:12 AM   #1
Piratebike
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Depression

At 53 and having already had a heart attack, depression is getting to me. Even though I know getting old beats the alternative, it still depresses me. I got back into riding to get back in shape, but it seems it just shows me how I can't do what I used to rather than showing me what I can do at my age, if that makes sense. There must be some words of wisdom from the older generation here? How do you handle not being able to do what you used to be able to do? Did any of you go through this? Do you ever get over it?
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Old 03-26-14, 11:20 AM   #2
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I think depression is like low back pain. If you hit 50 and don't have issues, awesome. Many of us, however....

Depression is extremely common after heart attacks or major surgery or major illness.

Some of us are blue by temperament. Wish it wasn't so.

Exercise helps me a lot. So is counting blessings, corny as that sounds.

Comparing myself to anybody about anything torpedoes my sense of well being as quickly as anything.

Anyway, you have a lot of company, if that helps.
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Old 03-26-14, 11:30 AM   #3
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my old man keeps on truckin' and most mornings when I get out of bed I just don't know how he does it
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Old 03-26-14, 11:35 AM   #4
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I think depression is very common, particularly as people age. Awfully common.

This is going to sound stupid, but there have been times that I am depressed and don't even realize it (obviously not crippling). My way of dealing with it? Exercise. It's incredibly effective at staving it off. I really think a lot of people on anti-depressants really just need a good wall/run/ride outside more often.

What will I do when I can't exercise so much? Gawd, I don't want to think about it. Exercise as much as I can, I guess.

Is the problem that you're just not as fast or capable as you used to be? That's one of the reasons I don't milepost myself like that. I judge by effort. If I'm putting in a good effort, I'm happy regardless of how fast or slow I'm going. Oh, and by how many pix I take along the way ... that's an important metric too.
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Old 03-26-14, 11:37 AM   #5
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even the smallest improvements in the things that I 'do' do elevate my mood ......

seek the endorphins :-)
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Old 03-26-14, 11:54 AM   #6
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OP if you think you may be suffering from depression then you need to conduct a quick self-analysis to see if you suffer from clinical depression, which is a pretty serious problem. If two or three or more of those symptoms apply to you then you need to talk to your doctor.
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Old 03-26-14, 12:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Piratebike View Post
......... I got back into riding to get back in shape, but it seems it just shows me how I can't do what I used to rather than showing me what I can do at my age, if that makes sense.
Seems to me that by definition cycling shows you what you can do at any age if you let it. I think it's time to re-focus. Maybe a little thanks for what you can do and focus on the benefits of the activity and what it can give you. Disappointment lives in the shadow of expectation.
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Old 03-26-14, 12:08 PM   #8
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Because of cycling, there are things I can do with my aging chassis that would not be possible, otherwise.

Because of cycling, there are things I can do that those in my local peer group cannot do.

There is catharsis in cycling. Ride more, worry less, ride more.
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Old 03-26-14, 12:23 PM   #9
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What i recently figured out about cycling is you can make it your own thing. Do it like you want to. If you feel like you want to take short rides do that,sometimes you might feel like going longer. I guess what i'am saying is don't pressure yourself....enjoy the moment.
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Old 03-26-14, 12:29 PM   #10
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This is going to sound stupid, but there have been times that I am depressed and don't even realize it (obviously not crippling). My way of dealing with it? Exercise. It's incredibly effective at staving it off. I really think a lot of people on anti-depressants really just need a good walk/run/ride outside more often.
That works for some people, I've heard.
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Old 03-26-14, 12:31 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Piratebike View Post
I got back into riding to get back in shape, but it seems it just shows me how I can't do what I used to rather than showing me what I can do at my age, if that makes sense. There must be some words of wisdom from the older generation here? How do you handle not being able to do what you used to be able to do? Did any of you go through this? Do you ever get over it?
I'm 69 and get depressed that I can't do some of the things on the bike that I could do when I was a kid (late 50s). Then (a few minutes later) I get over it after I realize that I'm in better shape than most of my non-cycling friends who are my age or even 10-15 years younger.
Just get on the bike and your worries will just evaporate. As some of the folks on here say, smiles not miles.

Now go have some pie.
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Old 03-26-14, 12:57 PM   #12
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Seems to me that by definition cycling shows you what you can do at any age if you let it. I think it's time to re-focus. Maybe a little thanks for what you can do and focus on the benefits of the activity and what it can give you. Disappointment lives in the shadow of expectation.
I hold my expectations so low....I am impressed if I accomplish anything.

Piratebike,
On a serious note..what bruce19 posted hold so true. Work at it one day at a time and for goodness sake....keep on riding. The ability to let your mind wonder while you get some excersize is a great thing. Do not be depressed about what you cannot due, in time you will get there, and appreciate the things you can do.

Good luck,
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Old 03-26-14, 01:14 PM   #13
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Get with your primary care physician or cardiologist and get someone to work with you on the depression. If it is just being down about aging and what you can or cannot do, think about all the beer guts sitting in a recliner and vegetating, and then think about just riding and getting fitter. You need to adjust your expectations to suit your abilities and don't aim too low, work within your self to improve over time. I fought back from 16 surgeries and I have chronic kidney disease, riding has helped me beat the monster.

Don't play with clinical depression though, get serious help, if you need a medication there are non narcotic, safe medications available. Best of luck and don't let the worries get to you, ride and get fitter.

P.M. me if you want to discuss returning from health issues that are really tough and the depression you can have. I'll be happy to share what I have been through and what worked for me.

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Old 03-26-14, 01:28 PM   #14
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I learned while going through cardiac-rehab that depression is a big problem for men who've had heart attacks. Don't think you're alone in this. It might sound silly, but the spiritual path helped get me through my darkest hours.
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Old 03-26-14, 01:37 PM   #15
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One of the things that gives people a bit of a lift is starting every day with a little list of the things you feel are blessings in your life. Try to make a little note of three to five of them every morning and just stick it in your pocket. As for energy-- and getting up and at 'em in the morning-- fresh fruit and a cup of jo. Fresh fruit passes right through the stomach and breaks down on its own in your intestines. It takes no energy from you, so, it is a great pre-morning ride munchie.

Dealing with depression is very common these days. It is not limited to age or physical health. A lot of times, though, it is linked to an over-all sense of dissatisfaction with life, career, family, etc. Diversions help relieve work-related stress and there are lots of options aside from medications.

The Oracle at Delphi says "Know Thyself" and looking at where you are and where you'd want to be if given the choice is a good start.

My last book was titled "Get Happy, Write Away" and is about finding your passion in life, stepping into your zone, and turning your dreams into realities. Lots of people have started life in their fifties. Best of Luck to you.
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Old 03-26-14, 02:17 PM   #16
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Talk to Medical professionals to determine if you really have clinical depression or are like me who upon returning to cycling after a 15+ year hiatis finds that hills I used to easily jam over in the big ring now command full attention of the little ring on the compact crank and I shutter to admit the cog on the rear. I had some health issues, too.

I set a couple cycling and fitness goals. First one was to just finish a 200k Brevet without having to use lights. If I thought back to 20+ years ago, I probably would have been targeting a lunchtime rather than bedtime finish and this type of thought.....?... I probably could not get out of bed and roll out. Maybe you used to be able to do a century ride. Why not target a metric century in whatever time seems barely attainable........6-7 hours. (Assume your MD gave you clearance to ride). Maybe then target a full century or whatever challenge strikes your fancy. Lamenting lost youth ain't good for the soul. Look forward, not back.
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Old 03-26-14, 02:27 PM   #17
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Conscription Vs Enlistment Vs draft refugee at HS graduation, in 1966

once you realize screwing you is just how its set up to work, and don't take it as a personal failing
will it stop bothering you ..

anti-depressants feel like being run on DC current flat line neither very low or thrilled.



I got to get out of the Country and took a bike tour in Europe , and talked to other people than Americans.

the going out and riding mybike in more interesting places and meeting other people

and seeing new places was my big help .

bitter and cynical is not depressed , its awakened to the game is F'd Up but I'm not doing it.
well it aint Bodhisattva enlightenment , but it's realistic..

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Old 03-26-14, 02:29 PM   #18
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Is the problem that you're just not as fast or capable as you used to be? That's one of the reasons I don't milepost myself like that. I judge by effort. If I'm putting in a good effort, I'm happy regardless of how fast or slow I'm going. Oh, and by how many pix I take along the way ... that's an important metric too.
I had a heart attack while riding a bike in 2008. I was down to 270 lb from 300 at the time. After the emergency stenting I felt like jumping right back on the bike, but waited a couple of weeks on doctors orders. Had another at 225 lb in 2012, again, I was just off a bike ride.

I wasn't really depressed after the first. While I was having the second I was genuinely angry. This is actually one common manifestation of depression. The poor paramedics though I was mad at them. I was just very angry that after all that I had done right, it was happening again.

I am now down to 210. I do not get depressed really, in spite of the fact that I would really like to keep up with some guys my age who are pretty fast. I would like to race in a Crit, but am not at the point where I think I could keep up. This is mildly disappointing, but I don't let it get depressing.

I have had episodes of severe clinical depression in the past, but not since I started cycling seriously.
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Old 03-26-14, 02:38 PM   #19
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I'll second what BillyD has said as depression is common in our age group/gender regardless of health issues. Seek professional advice and continue cycling.
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Old 03-26-14, 02:43 PM   #20
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Thanks guys. It's not really about what I can't do on the bike as it is about what I can't do at all. I get to thinking about being too far away from medical help! I mean what if I have another heart attack. What if I push myself too far? What is that feeling in my chest? Is that my heart again? My left arm hurts today? Is that my heart? Can I go fishing on the river today? What if something happens? Can I go off into the wilderness for a week? What if my heart gives out? All that stuff keeps me from doing things I used to do. I don't feel alive anymore. I never thought about "what ifs" before. I was young, immortal, nothing was going to happen, didn't even consider anything happening. I was a young lion, afraid of nothing. Now I feel like an old lion, defeated, thrown from the pride, nothing to live for. No longer leader. Heck some days I don't even feel like I can follow.
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Old 03-26-14, 03:11 PM   #21
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Here's my words of wisdom. Getting old doesn't beat the alternative. Living beats the alternative. We have to figure out at our age how to be alive. My dad beat a couple heart attacks and strokes by back out into the woods almost every day and doing what he used to and that brought his physical health back and no doubt help his emotional health. The key is physical activity, partially to change your body chemestry and part to keep your mind busy as well where you have to focus on the physical surroundings just to stay upright, if you know what I mean.

Change your expectations of yourself and change the goad you use to push yourself. 1st it's just to get out there, that's hard enough, so I'm thinking of group rides and someone here on BF even put the bug in my ear for time trials - just so that I have to "show up." That's hard enough most of the time. For me it's never going to be about speed again because that will continue to decline as I age, so now it's heart rate, cadence, and overall time on the bike. The actual speed is going to be relative to my age group, and "middle of the pack" will be just fine. At least that's what I'm going to try this year. I'm beginning to realize I should start watching my heart so, ya, heart rate. Don't want to blow anything up.

See a doctor, and find one that really dislikes drugs, but understands them. The wrong meds can be just as bad or worse than the depression itself, again both physically and emotionally. Remember the drug companies make money with new patented and expensive drugs so they push those through the doctors - so the "Hey, I have this new one here, let's just try these samples...." should tip you off.

Don't drink! Be around people that you cannot act depressed around, especially those who's sense of humor matches yours well enough to keep a lot of laughter going. Depression can be just as much a habit as a chemical imbalance, and poor habits reinforce depression. Don't watch network news or the Weather Channel, or all those advertisements for stuff. Advertisements teach us to be stupid, like we don't know what's good for us or what we want.

Even my sig tag line had to be changed from a depressed attitude to just bike related.

And - UGH - is welcoming failure again as a stepping stone to success. Learning not to fall down leads to walking, missing the target a whole lot of times at the range eventually leads to closing in on the bulls eye. Depression leads to lack of showing up. I want to carve caricatures, but I can't seem to get myself past the knowledge of failing and having a bad carving. Been trying that for 2 years and carved 2 simple ones. Expectations are too high, failure looming, and so ... nothing. Whatever you regard as failure you must move through, and the more times you do it the easier, and less depressing it will be.


Last, and first: I have to put this out there - pray, read Scripture, find a couple good Faith radio stations to listen to in the car that have more than feel-good music and messages. There is as much wisdom in the Bible as anywhere in the secular Psy book shelves.



So there is. Everything I've learned and struggled with for the last couple+ decades in a nutshell.
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Old 03-26-14, 03:13 PM   #22
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You can't will your way out of depression. You can't HTFU to get out of it. As others have said, if it's not just a temporay case of being down, see a professional, and don't wait. It won't get better by itself.
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Old 03-26-14, 03:36 PM   #23
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All good advice above, especially about finding out if it's clinical depression.

You can't change the past, it's part of your life, but you can't let it ruin the rest of your life. Try and enjoy what you now can do.
Don't try and do it all straight away. If it's important to you start off by going into the wilderness for a day or half a day rather than a week and see what that leads to.
My wife was in hospital for a year and at one time when she was on life support I was told she was not likely to last the night. She is now in remission and, three years later, is getting back the confidence to do the things she used to, but it has taken time. For a long time she wouldn't go too far from home and medical support because of fear that there would be a recurrence, but we started gradually going further afield, and last summer she plucked up the courage to go on holiday to Italy. She still has down days, but progress.

Cycling played a huge part in getting me through the dark days, hope it can help for you.
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Old 03-26-14, 04:45 PM   #24
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Thanks guys. It's not really about what I can't do on the bike as it is about what I can't do at all. I get to thinking about being too far away from medical help! I mean what if I have another heart attack. What if I push myself too far? What is that feeling in my chest? Is that my heart again? My left arm hurts today? Is that my heart? Can I go fishing on the river today? What if something happens? Can I go off into the wilderness for a week? What if my heart gives out? All that stuff keeps me from doing things I used to do. I don't feel alive anymore. I never thought about "what ifs" before. I was young, immortal, nothing was going to happen, didn't even consider anything happening. I was a young lion, afraid of nothing. Now I feel like an old lion, defeated, thrown from the pride, nothing to live for. No longer leader. Heck some days I don't even feel like I can follow.
First, I agree with the opinions that you should speak to your physician about what you are feeling.

Second, as a matter of disclosure, I am female & younger than you, so you will have to filter what I say to you through that lens.

I can't speak at all to the wilderness aspect of things. But as far as cycling goes, is the issue that you are afraid you could have a heart attack while riding alone and be unable to summon help? Or is the problem that you are concerned about getting out of town on your bike, out of cell phone range? If it's the former, you can just confine yourself to riding during the "crowded" times of day, in more populated areas, at least until you start to feel a sense of what is ok with your heart condition. If its the latter, welcome to the club. As a woman living in a valley, if I want to do a climbing ride, I've got to get into some lonely canyons & mountains. My only option is to find someone to ride with, theres no way Im going some of these places alone. I thought always drumming up a riding companion would be a limiter for me but it seems I can always find somebody to ride up a hill. See if you can find a cycling club that cycles at your pace. Figure out where there actually is cell reception and ride there.

I'd try to use cycling as a way to regain some measure of a sense of control or order to your life. Decide what you'd like to do, set a goal, and figure out how to achieve the goal. Maybe you want to be the guy, who despite having a heart attack at 53, rode his bike at least 10 miles 350 days out of the year. Maybe you're the guy with a heart condition who managed to ride from Griffin to Atlanta, just to buy asparagus at the farmers market. So you might have to find somebody to SAG for you, but someone will be inspired to do so. Maybe you had a heart attack but came back to ride a metric century the very next year. Whatever. Find the thing, set the goal and then break it into the tiniest of training steps to make it happen. Realizing that it is the actual plan, the training itself that will empower you. The goal is just the thing to trick you into the training.

And this might be easy for me to say, I have not been through a heart attack. But try to look at everything you have in life as temporary. Sometimes when we grasp something too desperately, just that process of trying to hang on the thing is overwhelming unto itself. Don't try to reach back and grab that pre-heart-attack guy. Be the guy who was strong enough and tough enough to survive a heart attack and still come back to accomplish: <fill in your own blank here>



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Old 03-26-14, 05:24 PM   #25
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Give it chance to pass

You do not want to become a meds zombie
lenA is offline   Reply With Quote
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