The hardest part of living with depression isn’t the pain it causes. The hardest part is covering it up all day so I can earn a living and fit in within my community.

The last few weeks have been a little rough in my head. Knowing that I’ll get on the road at some point during each day though, has helped me charge my way through it. Some days it just takes a little extra effort to hide the chaos between my ears so that it can’t be seen.

I’ve never stuck a needle in my arm or a spoon under my nose, but have to believe that putting two tires to pavement in splendid isolation has got to be the better way to go. As my heart-rate increases from pedaling, the serotonin exchange between receptors in my brain increases proportionately. That’s the same effect that cocaine has on the brain. I’ve never purchased cocaine, but it’s probably less expensive than a bicycle habit. Still, I think this is worth the price.

Once I’m on the road, it just all falls away. I feel like John Travolta after shooting up in Pulp Fiction, driving down the road under the night sky, smiling that secret smile and all is right with the world, if only for a while.

My tempo increases, the road passes under my feet, and I think about my long-kept retirement plan — to apprentice as a sheepherder on the interior of Sardinia. That idea becomes more attractive with every BREAKING NEWS story. When I see how people argue, dig trenches, and build walls around their coveted opinions, I long to be a baby harp seal in the arctic getting clubbed for my fur – certainly that would be less painful than going through my newsfeed each morning.

I’m mostly kidding. My morning feed brings me as much fun and amusement as it does anguish. It’s just that the weight of the anguish is greater than the fun and amusement.

I don’t talk about my depression as much as I should. Most people who live with it don’t. Stigma casts a long and wide shadow. My depression is viscerally biological, but is largely influenced and exacerbated by environment — by the people who fail to think before they speak and act.

I take no medication, although I do recognize the value and the need for medication in others. Medications enhance and enable many lives for the better and they’ve certainly saved lives, but I prefer to deal with my depression organically. These are some of the ways I cope with my depression each day…

1. Strength training and stretching
2. Walking in nature
3. Catering to my creative side, mostly through writing and taking pictures
4. Riding a bicycle, daily
5. Spending time with my pets, hourly

If I add up all the time I spend organically treating my depression, it comes out precisely to every waking moment that I’m not working. That is, I’m either working or engaged in something to take my mind off the sadness that inexplicably pops in and out of my head all day long.

What may not make sense to a person who doesn’t or has never experienced these feelings, is that I have a wonderful life. I make a good living. I don’t want for anything. I probably have too much of everything. I have friends and loved ones who know me and like me anyway. On a scale of 1 to 10, my life is an 11. Given the option, I wouldn’t want to be anyone else, except maybe Kenny Aronoff. Still, intermittently throughout each day, it just shows up knocking at my door. It’s a warning knock – not to announce its presence, but to let me know it’s coming in.

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The only weapons I have against my depression are creativity and physical movement. When I’m not otherwise engaged with work or taking care of my mother, I’m keeping my depression at bay.

If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ll consider that at some point this week you’ll be face-to-face with a dozen other people who look on the outside exactly as I do — confident, well-adjusted, and perhaps jovial. On the inside though, they may be battling every bit as much as me, some much more. Since you won’t know it to look at them, please give everyone you see a little bit of grace this week. It may be just what they need to get through the day.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
176 miles
7,800′ climbing
15.4 mph avg
10,050 calories
11 hours 26 minutes in the saddle

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Daniel Lanois. Enjoy…

8 thoughts on “The Great Depression…

  1. I’m sorry you have this challenge in your life, Roy. Though incredibly impressed at how you not only manage it, but excel in your ability to thrive.
    I’m no stranger to depression, though it has only been short tern episodes in my life. I was struck by how your list of how you manage it is a wonderful road-map to live a healthy life regardless of depression.
    After reading your last paragraph, I’m compelled to tell you this. Two days ago I was going out to dinner. After turning into the restaurant’s parking lot and parking the car, I was confronted by a man who accused me of almost hitting him as he was walking in a cross-walk which he went on to say “was against the law!” I immediately said I was sorry, and I went on to say I was very sorry. This seemed to defuse the situation. I need to add that, in truth, there was no crosswalk where he was walking, and he was actually walking in the road along the street, not even crossing it. This was backed up by the two people who were with me. I never even saw him in the first place, but at the time I felt that he was in need of some kindness, and I was happy to give that rather than an argument.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it’s true because of karate I always try take a step back or apologize as I said, at least once, but if they take this an invitation to bully me, everything changes 🙂 You are incredibly intuitive or even psychic perhaps, Roy, because it just so happened that my dad was visiting and we were taking him out to dinner so he was able to see his good parenting in action 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel your story resonates with me. I hide my depression well and I have a high functioning life- I do all the normal things- I go to work, I exercise, spend time with my wife, friends, birthdays, brunches- the lot. And I do it all with a chilled out smile, as if I’m the most relaxed easy going person in the world, taking every day as it comes.

    I do wonder what it must feel like to not feel such intense sadness when I’m not distracting myself. It’s been so many years like this, I don’t know any different. Sometimes I wonder whether how I feel is normality, but I think that’s me tricking myself into believing that because I function well in life, that itself is the proportional indicator of my mental wellbeing. Your post reminds me that there are others out there experiencing a similar journey. So thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First, let me say thank you for taking the time. This was an expanded version of a post I put up on my related Spoke And Word Facebook page yesterday. I received a number of emails by people who wanted to share it with people who aren’t on Facebook, so I decided to put it on the blog so more people who live with this and as many people who don’t, can that there are two worlds.

      It’s funny, I’ve lived with this most of my life, I mean since early elementary school. And because I’ve always exercised, always had dogs around, and always worked, the distractions have always been there. I have no idea what’s going to happen when I retire…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My brother, Vulnerable when you open yourself up and leave it out on the table. Thank you for your sincere care and consideration to this. As you know how very close this subject matter is to me. While I manage behavioral mental health. With Faith,meds.,therapy,psych care,physical activity, I fight and battle off the demons.
    I respect you for sharing this sensitive subject. Much Love Always❣️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Inspirational blog once again. Inspirational as you are prepared to talk so openly about your depression but also in the organic way you deal with it. Keep that beast at bay my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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