Part 2-Rock Bottom

05May11

Sunday saw me take part in my first race in Europe. Hoboken is a typical Belgium race that starts and finishes in Hoboken just outside of Antwerp. Lot’s of left and rights, bad roads, some cobble stones and enough wind to spice things up.

Mechanics prep the Cervelo R5's for the race

Luckily the sun was shinning so despite some wind the race was going to be reasonably safe. I have raced Hoboken twice before with two crashes and one DNF to my name so staying rubber side down was the first goal. Goal achieved. I got through the race in the bunch without touching the deck. The race also allowed me to get used to racing against 200 guys at 50km/hr. Moving through the pack and fighting for position at the front of the bunch are skills that needed the cobwebs blown out of.

2nd from left. Behind the motor bike during the neutral section

All in all I was really happy with my first race of the season.

Now lets take a big leap back.

At the end of January 2010 I had just finished a horrible campaign at The National Championships. I hadn’t trained well in the lead up and ended up being dropped badly in the road race. I was in an emotional hole. A number of other personal and relationship issues raised their heads, which made me dig deeper into my hole.

I ended up seeking help. I went to Dr Syd Johnstone a Clinical Physiologist. He diagnosed and then helped me recover from depression. My spiral into the dark world of depression started in 2004 and continued to spiral until 2010.

An apt sign on the last climb of The 2011 3Peaks.

In 2004 I was still rowing and studying full time at university. I was burning the candle at both ends and expecting to achieve huge targets for myself. Not only were my goals hard to achieve but as soon as one was achieved I would already begin to focus on the next step or goal. Not once did I take a step back and take pride in what I had achieved.

My mindset was that no result was good enough. I could always do better, go higher, go faster.

As my spiral begun I began to lose track of who I was. I started to present an image of who I wanted people to think I was. This drained even more energy from an already depleted mind. The depression fed on itself. I began to do things that a normal and rational person wouldn’t do. The guilt of these actions fed back into the depression.

I reached a point where I could no longer ride my bike or see people. I had no energy. I could pick myself up and like a torch with low battery I could shine bright for a short amount of time but it was never sustainable.

"The Fog" of depression

Dr Johnstone thought me that I needed to treat my mind like I treat my body. I rest my legs after a hard training session so I should rest my mind after a big mental load.

I began to treat my depression like I would any other injury. I rested and allowed the damaged area to recover. I looked inside and worked out who I actually was and made sure that the real Nick and the projected Nick were the same. I began to look at my life with respect to a finite amount of load that can be placed on me and I allowed myself to be proud of what I have done in my life.

It was a fight just to get out on the bike in 08 and 09

Racing a bike in Europe had been a dream for so many years and 2010 was the first time that I recognised my achievement of that goal.

I was happy once again. Something I hadn’t properly known since 2003. I started to think clearly and I was able to achieve tasks that I had put off for months and months. I enjoyed riding the bike again and allowed myself to draw satisfaction from being free.

Albert Park GP in  2010. One of my first races back

I could have never achieved this without the huge support of my family, Rog, Drew, Youngy and my two Sarah’s. The support of Ridley Bikes and Cycling Edge, although they never new what was going on, was tremendous and gave me the tools to ride out of my hole.

Youngy

Crap pic but this is my Fetha top cap it says "allez jongen" (Go Boy) and "Geen Spanning" (No stress) in dutch

Nationals 2011. No result but the eyes are on the prize. Leaner and with more perspective

A little over a year on I am back in Europe a completely different person. Mentally I have never been better. I am excited and so happy to be where I am. I still don’t think I am rid of depression and I continue to manage and check in with on myself. I am completely different as a person and as a racer.

Links:

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Fetha

Cycling Edge

Black Dog

Soloman does The Happy Dance because this blog is done

Untitled from Nick Mitchell on Vimeo.

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4 Responses to “Part 2-Rock Bottom”

  1. 1 Al

    Mitchy – a ballsy piece, much like the man who wrote it.

    From the outside, it all seemed good, and I never guessed at what was going on inside. You’ve got the mojo back now, so get it on!

  2. 2 Jono L

    I can foresee Loh with a big wedge of brie and a glass of red saying “Don’t wooorry, eat up, whatever makes you happy!”

    Enjoy the season in Geleen, by the sounds of this piece and what you have been through you have definitely earned it.

    Jono

  3. 3 Margaret Nixon

    Hi Nick
    I have written a response to this on your blog somewhere, but not sure where it has gone.

    Just wanted to let you know how I admire your honesty in your blog . There is no doubt that riding with the Black dog is heavy. Thank you for having the courage to share.
    On a lighter note. How good is a Cervelo!!! I hear all the best riders are riding them this season, although I don’t think I have ever hit 50km on the flat yet.

    Enjoy each day!

    Margaret

  4. 4 Greggy

    Mate, after 2 years of blogs I’ve actually related to one of yours!! Great stuff. Love it.
    I hope all goes well in Europe. Can’t wait to catch up with you for a few brews!
    Go get em
    Greggy


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