Thursday, 8 March 2012

Eleven – Depressingly, oppressingly lost without my bike?


My mother has read my blog.

Fourteen months ago, I would have rebelled against her every comment: she has a habit of natural constructive criticism, typical of mothers of daughters, although it’s always with her best intentions, ... But, you see, pre-Willow, I knew best. Of course! Today, post-Willow, I cling to my mum’s every word. Albeit, begrudgingly. I have learnt that, actually, she does know best.

She said: ‘So, where is this Gemma that’s writing these posts? You need to be more like her or at least be more honest with yourself.’ I didn’t understand her at first because I am that Gemma. Well, I want to be that Gemma. Again, my mother has a point because I’m not always that Gemma. Not yet.

You see, the blogging Gemma seems enthusiastic, energetic, optimistic, self-driven. And, she has every reason to be: with a gorgeous baby girl, a loving husband, a very supportive family, an enjoyable job, a beautiful house, her own health ... I should be grateful - I am.

And, I can be that Gemma, occasionally. However, I struggle. I struggle with mundane, every day things and getting out on my bike can sometimes be the hardest thing to do despite being the most necessary. 

I have been told I have PND. Post-natal Depression. Hah! Me? Depressed! Doesn't every mother feel a little down at times? 

I am hoping this blog will help me.  Again, for Willow’s sake. 

Willow's first few months coincided with the biggest identity crisis I had ever experienced. I had sailed through a lovely pregnancy, looking forward to giving birth to a cute and cuddly baby, who would coo away while I regained my active and ambitious lifestyle. I didn’t envisage the overwhelming urge I would have to be the best mother I could be; and, to put this little person before anything else in my life: to live for this little person. Nor did I consider how this little person would expect and demand all this too. Every minute of every hour of every day! The life I had led, previously, quickly became a hazy mirage.

I missed and still miss this hazy mirage. I love my baby girl - I am infatuated by her giggles and her smile. I watch her when she is sleeping, wondering how anything else could be so perfect. And look forward to seeing her when she wakes and spending every minute I can with her. But, I do miss the simplicity of my sole focus of being an athlete. Of independently going out on my bike whenever and for however long I like.

I miss how a long ride in the fresh air can free my mind, fix any worry, focus my thoughts. It makes me positive again.

Nick was keen to get me riding again, quickly after Willow was born, but it wasn’t that easy, physically and mentally. As I have said before, it hurt! And, my baby needed me. Crikey, the lull of a newborn’s cry is very possessive. And, as for the effort to do anything when you’re shattered! But his instincts were right. When I did get out, I felt great; when I didn’t, I didn’t.

Without cycling, I fell into a hole and struggled to climb back out. I didn’t know how to climb out because I didn’t know I was in it. But the hole seemed to increase in depth when I went back to work and when the hole was its deepest, the diagnosis was miraculously cured by my bike.

I mean 'miraculously' because I began this year as that enthusiastic and energetic and focused and dynamic Gemma having spent my Christmas holiday cycling again. I hadn’t felt that normal and good for a long time. And, it was all because I had scheduled time to be on my bike. It was either that or counselling! I had to choose the bike!

Willow’s recently being ill brought me back to the edge of that hole. I haven’t actually been out on my bike for a month, except for a few night rides with Nick, and I’m slipping down its sides again. You see, I feel guilty leaving her if she’s ill – she needs her mummy. But, her needing me has left me longing for a break – for me time – for my bike. I learnt at Christmas, it will do me good. I know it will do us both good.

The only cure I have for this low feeling is my bike. If I don’t get out soon, my hole will get deeper and I don’t want to be that Gemma; I don’t want Willow’s mummy to be that Gemma.

I need my bike and what being on my bike gives to me. The physical benefits are obvious and commonly explicit - we all know that exercise makes us fitter. But, for me, the mental benefits are the most vital. I want Willow to see me happy and energetic and enthusiastic. My bike makes me this way. More than ever, I need to fit in my rides.

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