I just finished a week where I led three different bicycle rides. Three! They weren’t all back-to-back, but there was only one “off” day separating the rides. (Ride-Off-Ride-Off-Ride) And I don’t know why I decided to do it this way. Was it because I wanted to “stay in ride leader mode”? Was it because I wanted to get them all done at once? I don’t know what really compelled me to do this. I just know that I can’t do this again. Two in a row, maybe. But three? No.
It’s not just physical exhaustion, it’s mental exhaustion. None of the rides I led were strenuous, maybe fifteen miles of riding, tops. It’s the thinking part that drains me. Preparing for rides can take a lot, especially if they are more than a “party” ride. And then there’s the actual ride itself: My rides usually feature a lot of stops where I talk about things. And I’ll also get asked questions, sometimes they are pretty specific and/or esoteric.
I could feel the drain when I led my Old Libraries Ride on Monday July 11th. It was a hot day, with a high peaking at 95F/35C. I really should have cancelled it, especially since a number of people bowed out because of the heat. And I could feel my mouth rapidly drying out when I talked. This is not sustainable. I pushed ahead with the ride since I already cancelled one Pedalpalooza ride due to heat, and I don’t want that reputation of someone who always cancels their events. But I have to look out for my mental health, first and foremost.
And mental health is something I have been thinking about a lot recently. I’ve decided to pursue therapy. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression for many years and definitely have trauma from my youth that needs some healing. Pursuing therapy is the first step, but getting therapy has been elusive.
A few months ago I found a provider through my insurance. I had to wait over a month for my appointment, and the “appointment” itself was a disaster by any metric. It was via internet, and the whole technical side of things didn’t work (and I was made to feel like it was my fault, not a good sign.) Twenty minutes into the hour slot the therapist finally decides we should do it by phone. That only lasted ten minutes, tops. I would say something, there would be a long awkward pause, followed by a loud “Huh” from the therapist. Ten minutes in, the call somehow dropped. I took that as a sign, and haven’t been “back” since.
After that I didn’t have the energy to look for another provider for a few months. The past week, with the generous help of Emee, I started the search again. The results so far have been far from heartening. My insurance lists several providers as “accepting new clients” when they aren’t. Some of these clinics at least are upfront about that when you go to their website, others not so. You have to call or message them to get that rejection notice. Why can’t they just post this on their website? This whole process is difficult enough for me, why make it harder on those of us trying to seek out mental help?
I’m sure I’ll find a therapist at some point. But they’re definitely making me work for it.