One of the hardest topics to openly write about, and far too often swept under the carpet. I think depression is a very common trait in the pursuit of high level sport, especially individual endurance sports. The general public think the life of a professional athlete is all about riding bikes and winning races, and for an incredibly small percentage of them this might be the case. But before any athlete reaches the top, somewhere along the line he has encountered lows, lots of them in fact. In my eyes that’s exactly why the best athletes are so mentally strong, they have been hit down 1000 times and got back up every single time.
Winning a race can take a whole careers work, thousands of hours in deep and dark places just to lift a banner. Getting better at any endurance sport demands lots of work, we seek improvement every week of every month year in year out and push our body’s into a state of fatigue on most days. In fact we spend over 80% of our time in this fatigued condition. This is, in my case was the source of my depression. Being tired can mess hugely with your brain and simply coming to recognise and accept this is hard enough, but it’s a good first step. This is why having a balanced lifestyle is key, aways having something to fall back on when training is not going exactly how you would like it to. I guess the more legs on a table the more stable it will be.
If you do happen to encounter some sort of depression, I would advise one thing : Open up about it. You can feel so lonely when you’re depressed and feel like nobody around you understands you, truth is the more people who understand what your going through, the easier it will be for them to help enlighten you on why you feel so shit, and provide support and/distraction. In my particular case it was mainly due to calorie deficit and lack of confidence, it took me a while to unravel and understand, but with the help of people close to me this was possible. Trying to find a methodology of helping my brain process negative thoughts is an ongoing process, as I know it is for a lot of athletes. There is no real point dwelling or regretting decisions now, move forward and see them as part of an important journey. Going through inevitable failures but never loosing the enthusiasm to succeed is simply part of the process.