Setbacks happen. You can plan to your heart’s content, but as John Lennon so accurately put it, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

So I had my first setback last week, time to move on.

As an individual with a serious mental illness, I know overwhelming stress often leads to relapse. I suppose I lost insight. The accumulation of academic and extracurricular commitments, combined with mounting personal stresses, pushed me over the edge. Depression ensued. It seemed my aspirations of riding twenty kilometers in this year’s Ride Don’t Hide would go unfulfilled.

But I don’t give up that easily.

Over the course of my twelve year struggle with mental illness and addiction, I’ve learned the importance of perseverance. I’m no stranger to discouraging setbacks. They are, unfortunately, a part of recovery. So, when times get tough, I’ve learned to persevere.

Within several days of a medication adjustment, I was feeling ready to resume my training.  So, I took my bike out for a twenty minute spin (as the Sugoi training blog recommends for week 1 beginners). I’ve tried to engage in many forms of exercise over the past week (swimming, running, yoga), all of which I enjoy. Cycling, however, has yet to win me over.

I have to admit, on a sunny day such as today, cycling around the lake adjacent to my apartment felt pretty good. Keeping to a slow and steady pace, I let my mind wander as I rode. I thought of the past few stress-filled weeks and of my depression which hasn’t yet fully lifted. And for a moment, I found peace in knowing that no matter what setbacks lie ahead, I’ll press on.

As I rounded the corner to head home, I took it all in – the cool breeze across my face, the shimmer of sunlight on the lake’s surface, and the gentle rustling of leaves above.  All in all, it was serene. As I neared my apartment complex, I began to feel blessed. Blessed to have come so far, and to have so much further to go.

Perhaps there’s more to cycling than meets the eye…

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