As I spin my pedals effortlessly along the quiet roads and shared pathways of my morning commute, I can’t help but ponder how my life has changed since May 2011 when I decided to take responsibility for my own happiness and health.
Back then, I was a bit of a mess. Despite being in a relationship with someone I love deeply, I would obsessively get crushes on just about anyone who showed me enough attention and spent most of my weekends surfing particular types of internet sites. In fact, it got so bad that I started to find myself spending at least 5 hours a day on Second Life – and not in the PG rated areas either. This cycle of behaviour took it’s toll, not just on my relationship but also on my self-esteem and emotional health. I already felt subhuman but now I also felt shame.
Admitting that I had a long-standing addictive relationship to the crushes I kept getting and the behaviours associated with those websites was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not only because I was ashamed of myself but also because I’d lived in a state of denial about the depression and anxiety I was trying to mask through these behaviours for most of my life. See, the crushes began when I was in kindergarten, continued into adolescence and became debilitating in my twenties. The other obsessive behaviour (surely I don’t have to spell it out) developed right alongside the crushes.
The day I admitted my problems to my partner and decided to seek the help of a psychologist was a turning point in my life. I saw the psychologist for 12 weeks: from the first day of winter until the first day of spring. She suggested I get into exercise as an alternative to the problem behaviours. I was initially resistant to the idea but, fortunately, I completed the Oxfam Trailwalker Brisbane a few weeks later and that helped spur me to change my life.
At first, I looked for motivation in triathlon and training for that sport. As I branched out, I discovered other sports, like adventure racing and Audax cycling. Slowly, over the past 2.5 years, being active in the outdoors has become a new way of life. I no longer train for races because that implies that the purpose of my daily exercise decisions is based on my need to improve my fitness. No. Not anymore – the outdoors have just become a normal part of my life.
As I rode to work this morning, I reflected on this past weekend. The person I was in the winter of 2011 could not imagine that I would cycle a 200km Audax ride on Saturday and back up with a 17km kayak down the Brisbane River on Sunday. And to think, in just 43 days time I will be cycling the Tasmanian Trail (wearing sandals perhaps).
It took a lot for me to change my life. It hasn’t always been easy. But I am happy to say I’ve not had a single crush since I saw the psychologist and worked through what was causing the behaviour. And I have the most amazing partner who has always supported me, even when many probably thought I least deserved it.
Total: 12.2km commute to work + similar commute home.