It seems so unreal that back in 2000 when I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety that I could ever imagine I would have found the PERFECT tool for my toolbox and my BEST medicine; that would have helped me cope with all these important mental health issues that I face. I attend therapy sessions twice a month with my therapist but that’s not the way I cope best.
When I was a sophmore in college at the University of North Texas way back in 2004; I stumbled into the sport of triathlon. That’s the sport where you swim, you bike, and you run; in that order to reach the finish line. Little did I know that on a breezy and chilly day in March in a little town of Athens Texas; would triathlon and the sport become my most important medicine for coping.
It’s taken many hours of swimming, cycling, and running to get where I am today as an athlete and mental health fighter. Especially now with pools being closed; I haven’t swam in nearly three weeks; but I’m still cycling and running multiple times a week as well as getting some core workouts in. All of this to prepare me to not just toe the start line and cross the finish line of triathlons; whenever that may happen.
The training has helped me deal with so many bad moments. When I see a workout from my triathlon coach the anxiety usually builds up. I usually start telling myself that “I am not capable” or “I can’t do that”. I write the specific workout on paper; even though it’s all online for me to see and do the best I can. Whether in my mind I hit my expectations for the workout or most of the time just completed it as given; I can find some joy and happiness in getting out the door and getting it done. There are many times when even if I totally dominated the workout; I may find a way to beat myself up for not being strong enough, or fast enough, or powerful enough. Those thoughts pass in and out pretty quickly. Sometimes though they manage to stay and I have to look then at my progress from the same workout from the before to make myself feel assured that I did my best.
Not every day in the life of triathlon training comes easy. I have those days that something happened the day before or moments before and I just don’t want to get my training in. Those are the days I have to tell myself that I am capable of so much. It’s really in times like these; that I tell myself I’m training to help my mental health over training for races. I just don’t know if and when I’ll get to race next; so doing this to fight the depression and anxiety is pretty important.
When I first started seeing my current therapist of now 11 years; she told me that the sport of triathlon saved my life. I never believed her until now.