Cycling back from depression

e17blade Posts: 215
edited March 2013 in Road general
At the end of December I got a bad concussion after a freak accident at home. After a month or so of semi-serious symptoms finally subsided I was left for quite a long while with 'depression like' problems, which according to the specialist at the hospital is not uncommon. Whether I was actually suffering a 'real' depression or just having similar issues due to the concussion, is not really the point, it was just an extremely difficult time. Cycling was one of the main things that helped pull me through.

Below is an article I wrote for my blog that tries to explain how getting back on my bike helped me out.

My thoughts go out to anyone out there suffering with similar issues.


Riding back to being me…

It has been three months. Concussion caused by a freak head injury. A moment of clumsiness and I was instantly transported to an eerily calm and quiet world. I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely.

At first, real life, whatever that is, seemed to carry on around me. I could see it, somewhere off in the distance, but I couldn’t get there. I couldn’t see the way. I didn’t even know if there was a way. I’m not even sure I was interested in looking for it.

I know the way now. Round the corner, down the hill, over the roundabout, off and away. Gloves on, helmet on, clip into pedals. A familiar routine. I can see the way in front of me. Clear. Familiar. Don’t set off too fast and burn out. I always do that. I remember that feeling. That thought. From before. Back in the real world. I smile.

I emerged from my private quiet world one day, but I didn’t find what I expected. I certainly didn’t find normality. I wasn’t even sure I could remember what normal was. I found myself lost in a strange place full of noise, so much noise, anger and emotion. Everything happened so fast. Everyone was so busy. Confusion.

I’m not confused now. It is simple. The road is steep. The summit is out of sight. I have to get to the top without stopping. My legs hurt. My lungs burn. I can taste blood. But my mind is free.

“How are you feeling?” I was asked every hour of every day. I can’t explain. I am fine. Can that be right? Can I be the same but everyone and everything else has changed? I know that can’t be right, but all the evidence in my head says otherwise. Am I thinking about it too much? Am I not thinking about it enough? I don’t know. I am lost.

Flying through Epping Forest. Almost home. Definitely not lost. On the drops, pulling a big gear, trying to keep my cadence up. The Tour comes this way next year. Don’t slow down. Wiggo won’t. The wind in my face, the leaves on the road, my breathing loud. This is real. This is life. It was always like this.

A bad day. Out of the blue. I shocked myself. I saw myself clearly, from a distance, through another’s eyes. I didn’t recognise myself. I was badly shaken by what I saw. That wasn’t me. It couldn’t be. I don’t act like that. And how do I know that? Because I remember now. I remember what it is to be me. Finally.

I coast to a halt. I unclip from my pedals. I undo my helmet. I knock on the door.

I’m back.




  • Well done for being strong enough to pull through. Read a lot of articles recently about cycling helping people with depression and mental illness. Fair play for writing down your experiences to help others.
  • andi1363
    andi1363 Posts: 350
    Great news on your journey. :)

    I hope to cover the same route but it ain't looking good.
  • jomoj
    jomoj Posts: 777
    It can sound like simplistic or even patronising advice but 'keeping yourself busy' with an absorbing physical activity is one of the best things you can do to counter depression. It's easy to get into a self defeating cycle when you are depressed, that feeling of detachment, introversion, lethargy, hopelessness sometimes, needs to be broken and as you describe, giving your mind a break by focusing purely on the act of "doing" something - anything can give you the mental space you need to regain perspective
  • BigTK
    BigTK Posts: 47
    Well done mate.
  • Vandiesel
    Vandiesel Posts: 506
    All the very best mate
    Giant TCR Composite 3
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    I suffered from depression following a bout of work-related stress a few years ago. Getting out on the bike was great both from the endorphins, but also having something that you could control and see positive results from, helps to lift you from what can feel like a pretty hopeless place.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • tim_wand
    tim_wand Posts: 2,552
    This kind of health benefit in cycling really cant be under-estimated.

    Doctors and practitioners are quick to recommend the physiological benefits of exercise, but the majority shy away from promoting its Psychological benefits, which in IMO and experience are at least equal.

    Rob Ainsley has written a great article in this months Cycling plus about this very subject, Hopefully they ll republish it on here, would be of more interest than some of the stuff that crosses over from the Mag.
  • nunowoolmez
    nunowoolmez Posts: 865
    I have also suffered the darkness of depression, but manage to cope better these days, although in the past i have had many dark dark days. Excercise is brilliant for it. I am glad it is being given more exposure by pro sportsmen & women, as these are people the general public look up to & admire so it does generate positive awareness & takes away from the 'stigma' commonly attached to it. Ronny O'Sullivan is well known to suffer bouts of depression & he took up running to battle it & it works well for him.

    Glad you have come out the other side now. Up n at em!
  • e17blade
    e17blade Posts: 215
    A few good points have been made. It's a very individual thing. If it works for you then great.

    As much as anything I find going out on my bike brings out an almost childish sense of fun and excitement in me, which was EXACTLY what I needed.
  • e17blade
    e17blade Posts: 215
    andi1363 wrote:
    Great news on your journey. :)

    I hope to cover the same route but it ain't looking good.

    Cheers Andi.

    Good look finding your own route. It's out there somewhere.
  • Jim C
    Jim C Posts: 333
    Thanks for sharing.
    Good luck :-)

    Ps I love riding my bike. Hope it works for you too