Contact Graeme WIllgress
I travel lighter these days!

The sun is peeping over my house. Shining through my window like a beacon of hope, its energy and the bright light it provides fills me like a rechargeable battery. I want to get out and cycle but I have yet another appointment that requires me to drive. I can only hope that the predicted deterioration in the weather happens after my appointment and once I’m out and about on Kermit later in the day. The moderate breeze that was a howling wall of noise yesterday, is a much better proposition for the cyclist today. The thought of trying to make headway into the previous storm, or to stay upright if it’s hitting you sideways, was never going to see me tempted out into it even though I have three wheels. Some days are designed for staying in, drinking tea and contemplation. Yesterday was one of them.

Before riding today, I have the excitement of a trip to Specsavers to try some contact lenses. Up until now I managed with my varifocal glasses but there are certain riding conditions where, short of adding some kind of windscreen wipers, I can’t see a thing. Contact lenses would allow me to use normal sunglasses or clear lenses when the weather requires them. Please wish me luck. I have no idea whether this is a good plan or not, but sometimes you just have to try something new.

Talking of trying something new, I am as bad as everybody else when it comes to riding the same old routes on my bike. I do this over and over to the point where I can almost see a groove starting to form in the tarmac. This spring I’ve been trying to mix it up, turning left instead of right or just heading out with an open mind, generally shaking up my circuits to refresh my cycling. It never ceases to amaze me that a few different lanes can inject so much extra pleasure into something that has got to be a little stale. What do you think?

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Memories like this are so precious.

I’m now completely settled with my latest anti-depressant, Sertraline 100. I am perhaps the most level I have been in some time. I still struggle with motivation and general energy, which is why it’s so good to feel so such great pleasure when the sun comes out. My cognitive ability seems considerably reduced. A couple of hours communicating or trying to do work on my computer or cycle, and I am finished for the rest of the day, overcome with extreme exhaustion. Afternoon naps are absolutely necessary and they vary, depending on what precedes them, from an hour of deep sleep to several. Yesterday was a prime example of that. After an overly busy day on Monday, I spent virtually the whole day asleep and it had no negative effect on my night time sleeping.

I’ve written this many times now, but I’ll say it again. If you feel you need to rest in the afternoon, and have the time to do it, do. It can be beneficial in so many ways and at least you are then resting, which can be a great aid in helping to manage poor mental health. I don’t agree with those that say you shouldn’t rest in this way. If you are dog-tired in the afternoon, what advantage is there to fighting it? Learning to listen to your body and mind feels much more intuitive to me. When I tire, I fade away, unable to concentrate, trying desperately to keep my eyes open. I’m like a small child that bounces around full of energy and then, in a moment, falls asleep, unable to fight the desire to sleep any longer.

Today is my second day in contact lenses. Yesterday should have been, but the less said about that the better! Like anything new, it takes time to gain the experience and skill needed to master the art. I don’t have any experience and skill yet. Patience is the prerequisite to learn how to place and remove contact lenses and I seem to have bags of that. Once in, they transform my vision making it worth persevering. If I can master the art prior to leaving on this year’s ride, I will be very happy.

I needed to make a decision about what I’m going to do this year. After much consideration, I decided that I’m leaving for a tour in the UK at the beginning of August regardless of appointments and the demands of others. If any of the tests I’ve undergone show anything of significance I may have to reconsider, but until they do, it’s full steam ahead on the planning front. In doing this I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, rather than just a long and dark empty path ahead. That thought alone makes me feel brighter and more positive. You may be surprised how writing a few goals down can transform your spirits. It’s all to do with having something worthwhile to work towards, something most of us respond well to.

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Tranquility of nature and mind

I’ve said many times before that the pull for me is to head towards mountains, particularly those in Scotland. Whilst this is true, there are still many areas of England that I don’t know on an intimate basis, having only visited a few times. Others are completely unknown to me. With that in mind, I’m considering drawing a line at the Scottish border and exploring every upland area below it: The Peak District, The Lake District, The Borders, The Cheviot hills, The Yorkshire Dales, Cleveland hills and the North Yorkshire Moors to name a few. The reason this appeals so much is just that there is so much unknown territory in these areas for me to discover and it feels a little like the anticipation you used to get when you knew a trip to the sweetshop was on the cards.

When I think about going away on Kermit, I get a rush inside, a feeling of great excitement that something special is in the offing. I’ve always been this way, it’s the way I’m wired. I need to feed the small child that lives inside of all of us by adventuring wherever I can. To not do this makes my life feel empty and almost unbearable. To me, planning and anticipation are more than half of the journey. Don’t get me wrong, I love being out there and pedalling, but I also love thinking about going, what I might take and how I will approach my choice of route.

It seems to me that if you plan a route and then can’t do it, you still have the joy of having planned it and a route to ride later when you do feel up to going. You will have been meaningfully occupied with a worthwhile task and you have been working cognitively by being involved in thinking about your intentions. I have often found that it is in the planning that I realise I am being unrealistic and have then gone on to change my intentions to something less demanding. This is preferable to finding out your choices are too hard for you once you have left on a journey. Not completing an adventure can leave you with a strong sense of failure, although there is always something you can learn or salvage from these occasions.

I think this is particularly true if you are not working or achieving in the conventional sense. Learning requires you to make errors and gain experience from them. Making no errors can mean little is being learned, whilst too many or too large an expectation can cause a catastrophic collapse in our mental health as we struggle to attain the impossible (for us). That’s why little steps are often better than large leaps and why I tend to take one day at a time, even when I’m working toward a goal.

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It’s the journey that matters. Enjoy each and every day.

So life has become more meaningful again. I have always found things to look forward to but bouts of depression and anxiety can make them feel all but unattainable. Wherever you are on a given day, things will change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. It’s our job to ride the waves of life and take whatever opportunities that come our way. Whether big or small, they all add up and they all add memories to our collection.

Until next time……. apple-icon-76x76