I live a pretty interesting life. At 22 I began kicking alcoholism one day at a time, and I just repeated that process, with quite a bit of progress, 7,468 times. The funny thing about recovery is that if you do something that works often enough, eventually you get pretty good at it. Starting out was a pretty rocky road though. There aren’t too many people who quit drinking on a winning streak (I’ve never met one in more than 20 years and I know a lot of recovering people) and I certainly wasn’t one of them. Starting out I was hauling a trainload of crap that I thought was all but insurmountable and I’d thought about suicide more than once as the permanent solution to what turned out to be a very temporary problem. These problems, or more properly expressed – issues that compounded and got worse due to a lack of activity to rectify on my part – in combination with trying to grow in a new way of life, had me battling panic attacks and the whole nine yards more than a year without a drink. As I grew and learned to deal with everything that I possibly could in a given day the panic attacks subsided and things got better.
I was physically active during that time, rollerblading at a local park three or four days a week (8-40 miles a day depending on how much time I had) but I can look back on those days in hindsight and know that the activity helped alleviate some of the symptoms of my problems but I really didn’t understand the importance of it until many, many years later.
Fast forward 19 years and two decades worth of paying attention to, and tuning how, I “work” – to yesterday, and to the point of this post… I’m out riding in the wettest conditions I’ve ever seen from the saddle of a bicycle. If ever there was a time to give up and call it a day, catching a ride back, yesterday was it. I didn’t want to though (keep in mind, there is a difference between wanting to and having to – several people dropped due to hypothermia symptoms yesterday and had that been the case with me I’d have dropped in a second, but I was quite comfortable as long as I kept moving). I just kept pushing until I was done. For intelligence’s sake and a desire to get back to my wife who had finished a shorter ride earlier, I did cut out a loop that added five miles to the ride but would have taken me out of my way to complete it.
I slept like a baby last night and I wish I could bottle the way I felt this morning on the drive to the office and sell it, I’d be retired on a tropical island inside of two months. I felt like I could take on the world and come out on top. That simple ride through adversity yesterday has me in a frame of mind where I not only can perform the tasks at hand, I want to because I know if I can push through that, a few issues at work are going to be child’s play.
Unfortunately I can’t bottle it, I can only recommend regular strenuous exercise as a means to combat depression because the only way to get the benefit is to kick it out, one mile at a time.