The vicious cycle.
Buckle up. This ride’s about to get emotional.
Put simply, our bodies and brains are not designed to do 8-10 hours of exercise everyday for months and months on end, so there are consequences.
These consequences are just different pains.
Neck pain, shoulder pain, hand pain, knee pain: Expected pains.
Anxiety, sadness, regret, anger, disappointment: Less expected.
Having battled a few scraps of depression in my youth it was likely that it might crop up and hold me back. But it hasn’t really.
I’m often sad, but sadness has come to be a part of the rise and falls of days on end. Not a total collapse of reality and reason, as depression brings.
The peaks and troughs of daily life take on a wild swing, where the highs are no longer hillocks but great mountains, and the lows not valleys but ocean floors. Learning to cope is part of the challenge, but i don’t mean that flippantly, many days it is the biggest part of the challenge. Physical pain is demoted to the cheap seats.
You can see the problems rolling towards you in your mind’s eye, like a huge rock of anxiety gathering size and speed as it canters towards you. There is no escape, but you can prepare yourself for when it hits. Agree positive things to think about, sort a coping strategy, even if that’s just sitting down and having a weep.
And crying does happen. Quite a lot for someone for whom it doesn’t come naturally. Sometimes I come close, then force some water drops out of my eyes in pursuit of the calm that follows.
Although i don’t know exactly why I’m sad, i know that it’s real sadness. I’m not cheating myself or just a bit lonely. You can feel it deep down in your belly, a visceral, sickly, true poison in your stomach. But you don’t know why.
Pain is good.
I’m not brave or courageous, i just find that pain means that you are achieving. When you apply ointment to a wound it stings, so you get a sense that it’s working. When I’m fighting anxiety i know that I’m being challenged, that things are getting to me and i must overcome them. And when i do, the ointment works and the cut starts to heal, and I’ve learned and achieved something.
As we reached the end of Kazakstan Scotty revealed one morning that he wasn’t happy and wanted to leave our group. Soon after (having stayed with a friend in Tashkent) i received an email from Pete explaining that after 9 months together he would join Scotty with immediate effect.
And that was that. I wasn’t to see them again.
In a heartbeat, with a single email, after all this time, all we’d been through, all we’d achieved, i was now completely alone. In a strange country with thousands of miles of desert in front of me.
I’ve never felt so let down by a friend before. I’ve never been so let down by a friend before. I simply didn’t know what to think or do, other than look at flights home.
Some sadness, It turns out, is not all cycling inflicted.