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One of those dreaded "Advise me on my health." threads

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One of those dreaded "Advise me on my health." threads

Old 10-27-17, 11:45 AM
  #1  
rachel120
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One of those dreaded "Advise me on my health." threads

For those who have had depression or depressive episodes as part of another mental illness, does the utter lack of energy to do anything affect your stamina when cycling? Does it make it feel like you are struggling somewhat more than usual?
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Old 10-27-17, 11:50 AM
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Biking make me happy.
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Old 10-27-17, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
For those who have had depression or depressive episodes as part of another mental illness, does the utter lack of energy to do anything affect your stamina when cycling? Does it make it feel like you are struggling somewhat more than usual?
I get Seasonal Affected Depression, so it makes getting my ass out there and biking that much harder.
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Old 10-27-17, 05:11 PM
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I force myself out on the bike anyway, on the days I dont feel like riding. And I never regret going. I know where you're coming from though, OP. No easy answer, unfortunately. Just hang in there.
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Old 10-27-17, 05:21 PM
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I wouldn't say major depression impacts my stamina, but rather, the ability to actually get out the door and go ride. Once I start riding, I feel better (and endorphins don't hurt anything, either.)

Panic disorder is a whole different story. 10 miles from nowhere and a panic attack hits? Aaaaaah!
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Old 10-27-17, 05:36 PM
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consensus on this site is "go ride"
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Old 10-27-17, 06:25 PM
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Absolutely. Been going through a rough patch myself lately and although I'm self medicating on extra antidepressants, I'm not quite getting over the hump. Still spending way too much time sleeping.

When I started riding again in June after about a year's hiatus, I noticed how much better I felt. That lasted about 4 months. Every year about this time all I want to do is sleep. It's going to be a real struggle to use the indoor trainer this winter. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep the cycling momentum going. Therapy has been next to useless, but I still go in hopes that there will be some breakthrough. So far nodda.
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Old 10-27-17, 06:27 PM
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I have to ride, no choice. But it gets harder and harder every day to not stop halfway for a breather. It gets harder and harder to not be all but panting and gulping air at the next red light.
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Old 10-27-17, 06:35 PM
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At least you're getting out and going through the motions and getting some physical activity. Do you have a good support system at home with friends/family?
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Old 10-28-17, 02:36 AM
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if you have to stop and rest, stop and rest.

Inactivity might be slowing you down, and yes, attitude can slow you down, and a bad attitude can really drain you physically (or it really feels that way.) The electrical impulse of thought triggers the electrical impulse which actually flexes the muscle, and if you are weak-willed the muscular response will be weak (in my experience.)

So what? If you are out riding, that is better than not.

My other questions would be ... Are you riding faster and not noticing it? Are you pushing too hard to start?

Do you have other health issues? Anxiety might be jacking up your heart rate.

Are you eating and sleeping well? If your body is tired and under- or overfed, this could cause the effect you see.

Finally .... sometimes I have to deal with stuff. I ride and it helps with depression but sometimes riding is just an escape ... sometimes I have to actually grab a hold of myself mentally and sort of slap my own face and get tough with myself---insist that I start smartening up and not give in to the weakness and fatigue. I can sleep a lot very easily .... which is often another escape.

Sometimes the only thing to do is to fight back against all the thoughts which are draining me. I might not feel any better, but I cannot let myself feel weak and powerless for too long. I have been playing the game long enough to know that I will undermine myself ... and I can also fight against that train of thought.

Keep riding. It will never hurt. Stop if you need to stop. But also, watch what you think. My brain would eat itself if I let it.
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Old 10-28-17, 02:48 AM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
For those who have had depression or depressive episodes as part of another mental illness, does the utter lack of energy to do anything affect your stamina when cycling? Does it make it feel like you are struggling somewhat more than usual?
Yes, it's all part of it.
On the other side of the coin, if you suffer bipolar, you'll have periods where you're breaking land speed records (said comment to my doctor led to the discussion that led to my diagnosis)

The 'go ride your bike' brigade don't and never have suffered depression though they may have suffered the 'down' periods everyone has sometime in their life. Ignore them.

Get your medication right and keep using it.
It does help if you can ride your bike every day (or most days) and you'll often find that although you're down, you were able to control it better than if you hadn't ridden.
If you're having a hard day on the bike, just gear down and go with the flow. It feels pretty crap slogging through a ride for a stupidly low average speed so on those days, ignore the numbers and just try to enjoy being on the bike.
A short break on the bike, even if you don't actually climb off (just stand straddling the thing) will often help. If you think you need to, try it.
Telling yourself you 'should' do this or 'should' be faster or 'should' anything at all is actually the depression talking because you're inflicting an imperative upon yourself, essentially reaching for the whip to give yourself a bashing. Look for it and talk it down. Same with most other absolutes.
Finally, everyone's experience is different and what works for one person may not for you.
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Old 10-28-17, 03:59 AM
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Not glad to hear about your depression. Very glad to read that I'm not the only one.

Re: gasping for air - try a slo-mo ride and get yourself slowed down. Calm.

I wish you relief soon.
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Old 10-28-17, 05:39 AM
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Hello,

I was raised by a mother with depression. I knew what it was before I could walk or talk. I did the usual things and eventually found a great councilor that taught me this: Bad thoughts are like weeds and they grow fast and easy. A happy mind is kind of like a garden and it can take some work to get good results. An excellent example by Europa - 'should' is a coercive word and it can really add pressure if used incorrectly. "I should be able to do this" can become "I want to do this, but I'm not in shape yet...". Simple yet hard to do at times.

Out of breath is an easy thing to do. Stress. My dog has large tumors and I'm going to lose her. Just the thought can make my breathing literally stop. It is why I started riding again and I enjoy every single moment with her. There is so much joy in life, even after loss and hard times.

I wish I had a way with words so that I could help you. Everyone here is rooting for you. The most important word from "You can do it" is "you".

Best wishes!
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Old 10-28-17, 07:03 AM
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rachel120
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Everyone, thank you for relating your experiences. I feel better now about needing a break and I have hope that once my brain is in order so will my stamina.

Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
if you are weak-willed the muscular response will be weak (in my experience.)
A point of correction. Depression is not being weak-willed. The brain is a physical organ and therefore your thoughts and perceptions will change when the chemicals are out of whack. Surviving it takes strength. Would you feel the person who is hyped up like they are on crack and doing a million things at a pace that looks exhausting weak-willed? It's the opposite side of the same exact coin. Willpower means nothing.

When it is the thyroid that is producing the wrong amount of chemicals and not the brain, no one thinks the same exact effect to be a lack of will. But it is the same thing.

This is a belief that is common to people who have not experienced mental illness. And it is the reason people with mental illness hide it, it is treated as shameful and something you control, that you can will your brain chemicals back to normal. And it is also why mental health treatment is so difficult to obtain, those who believe it willpower do not think it needed and therefore treat it as an afterthought.
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Old 10-28-17, 07:20 AM
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^^ we really DO need a 'like' button on this forum.
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Old 10-28-17, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by PaddleFoot View Post
My dog has large tumors and I'm going to lose her. Just the thought can make my breathing literally stop. It is why I started riding again and I enjoy every single moment with her. There is so much joy in life, even after loss and hard times.
I am so sorry. I recently had to have a companion cat that was part of my life for 17 years euthanized. It really does rip the heart right out of you.
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Old 10-28-17, 09:20 AM
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Cycle touring outside the USA helped a lot..
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Old 10-28-17, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
I am so sorry. I recently had to have a companion cat that was part of my life for 17 years euthanized. It really does rip the heart right out of you.
Sorry to hear about the loss of your kitty. I live in a multi-cat household and prefer their companionship to that of other humans. It bothers me for months when I have to put one down.
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Old 10-28-17, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
.... if you are weak-willed the muscular response will be weak (in my experience.) .
Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
A point of correction. Depression is not being weak-willed.
My pardon. please allow me to clarify:

I never said and did nto intend to say that depression was caused by having a weak will. What i said and hoped would be clear (and it is my fault if I did not make it clear) is that if you don’t have a lot of mental energy pushing that impulse to the muscle, if you are tired or depressed or forcing yourself to do something you would really rather not do, the impulse driving the muscle will be weaker than if you were one hundred percent committed to your activity.

This is what I have found after about 40 years of depression and organized exercise.

On the days when i am exercising because I know I should, but don’t really want to, everything is twice as hard. The weights are twice as heavy, the miles twice as long and always uphill ... the wind is always a headwind.

I am not a biochemist. I don’t know what is really going on in my brain ... of course, even the smartest scientists haven’t figured out how a thought arises and becomes action.

My observation is, if my will is divided, my physical effort is weak. if I am using half my will just to get off the couch, while the other half wants to go to sleep, I feel like my muscles are also only half as strong.

Depression is Not about being weak-willed ... it is (as far as I can tell) the result of chemical imbalances ... but it is also affected by thought, as much as it affects thought.

That is why some days I spend all my free time lying around, and some days I can get my butt up and out the door ... some days I can outhink the part of my brain which tells me I am weak.

Unfortunately, when I use up most of my mental energy fighting with myself, I don’t have much to use to spark my muscles, so I am physically weak.

That’s how it seems to me ... but I am crazy, and you really can’t trust the advice of a crazy person.
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Old 10-28-17, 05:18 PM
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Lol, I'm right there next to you when it comes to being crazy.

And thanks for the clarification. And I apologize if my words had more sting than education. I didn't know I was preaching to the choir.
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Old 10-28-17, 06:34 PM
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Try to find a place where you can enjoy a casual ride at your own pace without the added stress of traffic. Or look for a like-minded casual cycling group to join. I know some folks who seldom ride alone in traffic but do feel more secure and relaxed in larger casual groups with a ride leader, safety monitors, etc. We have several such groups in our area and I participate when I have time, although this year that's been only once or twice a month, rather than a couple of times a week as I used to do.

Bicycling helps keep me sane. As a caregiver for three consecutive older family members so they could live at home rather than in a nursing home, I'd go nuts without an outlet for physical activity. Even before resuming cycling in 2015 I used to do a lot of walking, yard work and gardening, hiking (which evolved from hunting, when I realized I enjoyed the hiking more than the hunting bit), anything to stay mobile.

The worst period was several years after a 2001 car wreck broke my back and neck. Had to walk on a cane for several years. It was impossible to move quickly enough to get any aerobic exercise. Got into psych therapy, took the prescribed meds for depression and anxiety. It helped, a lot.

I was able to do without the meds by 2010 or so. But that's not an option for everyone. Some folks will need meds for a lifetime to cope with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety, and, in my mom's case, dementia combined with bipolar disorder. The human body is unfair to some folks when it comes to sorting out the balance of serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins and the other chemicals that go into the happy, healthy, sane living cocktail.

The past couple of years since resuming cycling have been the best I've felt in years. Even helps to some extent with the chronic and occasionally severe neck pain remaining from a permanent C2 injury. I've had painful neck spasms the past week and the only time I feel halfway good without prescription pain meds and muscle relaxers are while I'm cycling at a casual pace on my fairly upright hybrid. I need to stay off the drop bar road bike for awhile.

Last night I rode 38 miles, between the local Critical Mass and the ride to and from the event. Just 13 mph, which for me is now a comfortable casual pace. In 2015 when I was in terrible physical shape that would have been a painfully fast pace. Took awhile and a lot of effort to get to the point where a fairly long 12-14 mph pace is comfortable rather than feeling like "exercise".

I still have my comfort hybrid, very upright with suspension fork and big soft tires, for those occasions when even my flat bar hybrid hurts my neck. I don't ride it often anymore, only 100 miles this year compared with 1,500 on the hybrid and nearly 2,000 on the road bike. But it's reassuring to know it's there for days when I want to ride without jolting my neck.

But going without riding at all? Inconceivable. If the neck pain gets bad enough I'll get a recumbent and try to avoid becoming one of those curmudgeons who haunts the bicycling forums with passive aggressive victim persecution complex posts.
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Old 10-28-17, 11:15 PM
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You two are inspirational.

I have been fighting to ride for several days now ... this whole month has sucked but it got worse ... but I feel a little better now. Maybe I will get out for a midnight roll around the neighborhood ... not enough to sweat, but at least out of the house and on my bike,.
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Old 10-28-17, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
For those who have had depression or depressive episodes as part of another mental illness, does the utter lack of energy to do anything affect your stamina when cycling? Does it make it feel like you are struggling somewhat more than usual?
To quote Eddy Merkx, "ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you want, but ride". Coming from a guy who had it bad when young about 25 ,now being over twice that age . I can tell you that riding forces you to reconnect your mind and body, to become one again. Also ride with some friends, some competitive but better noncompetitive. Another piece of advice don't worry , and do what is healthy for you ,not other people or family members!

Last edited by rossiny; 10-28-17 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 10-29-17, 01:21 AM
  #24  
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My thanks to rachel120 for being brave enough to post. Depression is a frustrating thing to endure. My rational mind tells me I'm better off than 99.9% of the world's population, but the dark devil within keeps me from enjoying it as I would like. So glad I'm not alone in this.

Best wishes to rachel120 and to all who've posted on this thread. Tomorrow I ride!
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Old 10-29-17, 09:17 AM
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I am trying to get back into cycling after a long layoff. For the last two years, I have been battling depression where all I do is try to avoid suicide. This is particularly hard when riding, because it is all too easy to just move a bit left into traffic and let the bad drivers of Florida take care of the rest.

So, I went from riding 3k miles per year to riding around parks and staying off roads completely.

I am still not rid of this mindset. Drugs and therapy have not helped. I am trying to rebuild my bike so that it feels better when I ride but in the front of my mind, I keep thinking that I am wasting my time getting a new frame. It will be under the wheels of a semi the first time I go on the road with it...

People who have not experienced REAL depression: I think it is right up there with men not understanding what it is like to be a woman, or straights trying to understand gays. Real depression is all pervasive, hammering you all day long, the first thing that hits you in the morning and the thing that sits on your chest choking you at night. You don't get away from it. The only thing that riding did for me when I was younger was provide a way for me to beat myself up and keep my mind suspended and away from thoughts of death.

Don't have that luxury anymore.

For the OP: if you feel the way I do, I would advise riding in parks, taking it nice and easy, and go high revs and low load just to stay limber. And keep looking for a professional who makes a difference. I am now looking at Ketamine or Mushroom (magic mushroom) therapy to try to reboot the brain. While that might seem like cheating, sometimes you have to do something radical to make things right.

I am nothing more than a meaningless sack of meat without anything left to give the world, so take my opinion for what it is worth. You are probably like most people who serve a purpose and have a support system that they can leverage to get better. If you have that, reach out and try to get help. If you don't, try to do what I do: Suicide today is an emotional decision. Wait until tomorrow, and see how you feel then...
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