Misty clouds sun breaking through

Mental Health | What if I want to die every day of my life?

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I’ve asked Singletrack to withhold my real name and publish this piece under a pseudonym. Why you might ask?

Whether you suffer from poor mental health or not, starting up a conversation about it can be pretty tough – it can feel embarrassing, shameful and pretty risky too. Doing it in a safe environment with the right people can help make it a little easier. That might be your mate in the pub, the other half over a cup of tea, a support group, a therapist, or, like me on this occasion, the anonymity of a pseudonym on the internet.

It doesn’t matter how you choose to do it, just find a way to share how you feel.

tangled spikes Hannah mental health
Sometimes our heads can feel a bit like this.

What if I want to die every day of my life?

Someone asked me the other day what did sad feel like. It took me a while to answer. After all, how do you explain the crushing, overwhelming feeling you experience every day but yet spend all your time distracting yourself from because if you don’t, you don’t dare to think what you would do. That thing that I frequently wish I was brave enough to do.

And then I was asked what happy felt like. Aside from the absence of the brutal, over-bearing weight that I’ve grappled with for everyday as long as I can remember, I wasn’t sure. What does happy feel like?

Hannah Gorple Pennines mental health
And breathe

After a while I remembered.

What happy feels like

It felt like that moment a few weeks before, where for the first time in a long, long time I was on top of a hill, with my bike, under beautiful bright blue sky, in photographically perfect light and with not a single other person around. And for a moment, oh such a brief moment, I didn’t feel like I wanted to die.

I hit that sweet spot and I’m not sad. And I don’t want to die

And that’s what brings me to ride as much as I can. Because despite the majority of rides being a struggle of mind over matter, where the physical challenge of climbing the hills is insignificant in comparison to the mental battle to keep going on, there is that odd time where I hit that sweet spot and I’m not sad. And I don’t want to die.

i want to die mental health
Moments like these

Over the last year finding that moment has been even harder than ever before.

Physically I’ve been forced to rein it in. And so I’ve gradually lost my fitness. And so I’ve lost my confidence. And so I’ve lost my ability to find any flow. The battles have spread from my mind onto the trail.

My head tells me I lack the fitness and ability to ride with any of my friends and I have hidden away. As everyone’s life goes on they ask me to meet up a little less. This suits me; I don’t have to say no. On my own I don’t feel any joy but at least I can hide my shame.

As my fitness, confidence and ability have fallen away all that holds me back has exponentially increased. It’s been far harder to find the time to get out and, when I have done, needing to deal with the pile of mucky kit and bike repairs has started to feel like another insurmountable challenge. It has meant that the next time I’ve had a chance to ride I’ve let it go. I’ve almost completely stopped giving myself the opportunity to find that sweet spot.

But even when the balance all but entirely shifted to the negative I keep going. I keep going for that odd moment when things aren’t a battle and the constant weight of that heavy cloud lifts.

And I can breathe.

Lake District Hannah Clouds View mental health
Sometimes there’s a break in the cloud.

That perfect moment a few weeks ago has made me realise how bad things have become. It’s caused me to reassess, I need more than the rare moment that things fall into place.

I’ve taken to the turbo. Despite the monotony and the falsity of it, it’s given me something to get my teeth into for a short time. For an hour it’s distracted me, it’s taken me away from battling with my head. It’s given me a vital shot of endorphins. It’s also started to build my fitness so those rare opportunities to ride outside have become a little less hard, have become a little easier to push myself so my throat and legs scream and my head stops doing so.

I’ve come up with a plan of sorts. It’s neither a life-affirming nor a particularly challenging plan, but a few things written down that say I’ll get on the turbo a couple of times a week, that I’ll go out for a ride or two at the weekend. It’s not much – I don’t need something else to fail at – but it’s enough for me to make a commitment to myself that I’ll do something and enough to see that I’ve achieved a bit too.

I’m working on appreciating the small things of a short, less glorious, local ride too. To try and enjoy the parts that might arise more often, rather than chasing that rare moment of perfection. I hope by focusing on the pieces that I will be adequately distracted from all the noise that has started to be overwhelming.

And I’ve reminded myself to keep on keeping on. Because sometimes when I’m on my bike everything falls into place and I don’t want to die.

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Comments (19)


    Q: are you feeling suicidal because you want to die, or because your fed up of feeling like you do?


    Q: are you feeling suicidal because you want to die, or because your fed up of feeling like you do?

    This is an insightful account of the experience of depression. The writer doesn’t say if he or she is being supported by their GP, by Primary Care psychology or by mental health services but the plan is a good one. By setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time limited) objectives (The turbo sessions, the weekend rides) and crucially by celebrating successfully doing these things progress can and will be made.

    I’m sure most of us would acknowledge that our health is improved by cycling, even when we fall off. I would also add that as long as we keep turning the pedals we eventually reach our destination.

    Thank you for sharing. Keep riding. Are you receiving other therapeutic intervention and/or treatment? I can’t find any suicidal thoughts or ideation but a wish of being dead. More a “if I don’t wake up in the morning it would be ok” resolution.
    I don’t believe there is the stigma to mental health as there was. Its just uncomfortable for the person listening how to respond, especially to serious and complex problems. You need to tell a GP and/or therapist. If you have one you can’t hold back. Use this article or keep writing your thoughts and give them to the professional.
    If you have plans, means and motive to take your own life seek help immediately. Go to your GP/mental health services. But if desperation, determination and immediacy is there, get to accident and emergency. Dial 999. Just get help.

    Thank you for writing this. It’s a very good explanation of the way sadly many of us also feel. I hope the clouds lift more often for you.

    I was touched by the mention of not needing more things to fail at; there is a ridiculous amount of subliminal pressure thrown at us from all around that we should excel always – sometimes just getting through the day is success.

    Great article – keep it up.

    Brave article. Thank you for sharing it, and making public a feeling that the bike can help change. I wish you great strength and I thank you again, for what you have written.

    I can relate to this very well. I’m 37 and I’ve fought type 2 bipolar disorder since I was a kid. For those that dont know for me type 2 means that I dont get hyper manic. I just go from feeling half decent but not good to the pit of shit and it can last for many months. Its chronic as well. Fun. I’m in treatment and I’m doing ok. I’ve faced suicide many times in my life but I’m still here.

    I have to force myself to do what I enjoy but once I do I feel hood about it. I write dark poetry to vent and I’m strongly considering publishing a book with related art as a Kindle or physical media.

    The stigma and misinformation must end. Some one asked how anyone could ever be suicidal and went about how it was selfish etc. I explained it thus: imagine you are trapped in a high rise building fire. Theres no rescue coming and the fire and smoke are slowly getting worse. You’ve run out of floors and you are slowly dying in agony. Would you suffer until the end or jump and suffer no more? That helped. It’s important to note that the belief that there is no rescue and no way through the fire is a poisonous downward spiral of thought. It can be done if it’s the hardest thing you do. I’m somewhere on the path with therapy and meds doing me very well.

    So how does this related to mountain biking? Mountain biking is therapy for me. Along with hiking and being alone with nature. I ride as often as I can during the season. I’m my own wrench as well. I enjoy that aspect of building and maintaining my bike. I dont have much disposable income so I scored an old 05 Cannondale Prophet that I’ve bee. Upgrading for a few years. Its now got an m8000 xt drivetrain, mt5 brakes, custom tuned rs monarch, carbon bits and I’m about to finish a 27.5 conversion. I have a fox factory 34 that I bought used and a wtb vigilante/trail boss tire combo. I just need wheels.

    That was a rambly mess I know but let me say that mental diseases of many types can be treated successfully and with help and a fresh, learned outlook people can live well. I’m working on it. But mtb season is here or will be soon in PA, USA so I’ll push myself hard that way and have a blast doing it.

    No one is ever alone. No matter how it feels. It can be fought. The war can be won. Ride on, friends.

    This article is incredibly meaningful. In some ways, it’s frighteningly similar to my own experiences.

    I too struggle with better and bad fats but I have to keep hoping that the amount of better days will be greater than the worse days. Generally, I think that’s how it is – but it never feels like that when I am low.

    Thank you for sharing, it means a lot not to feel that this is something that only happens to you. Previously, the people of STW were crucial in my recovery – not that many of them would realise that. I do think this is a good place to discuss mental health and get advice for those who have been through it.

    Thanks for all your kind comments. It’s nice to think that writing about this can help support and reassure others – it’s always good to know you’re not alone.

    And to those of you who have encouraged me and others to seek help, thank you. I’m certainly being well supported. It doesn’t always stop you falling, but can make it a little easier to get back up.

    Hats of to you for bringing how you feel into the open. I truly hope you and anyone else who feels this way gets the help needed, be it from professionals, family, friends or strangers.

    I don’t know if it helps, but try not to see riding as something to fail at; there are just good rides and really good rides.

    Sorry, I meant to write “I try”, not just”try”

    A very honest and thought provoking article – well done for writing this.
    As a few have said above there are many of us (including me) that feel either the same or similar to you – we all deal with it in our own ways but the common ground we have is bikes; this place is great for getting away, having a vent or just feeling part of something.
    Interesting that you that you say about not committing to something and then failing at it – again I’ve been like this for the last couple of weeks – all ready for a ride and then a case of “I can’t face it” or similar and then the crushing feeling of having failed to get out knowing that the only thing that stopped me was me.
    I also ride solo a lot not because I have no mates, but because I don’t know how to deal with them or the feeling of not keeping up – like you riding solo is also about not having to say no, not having to deal with the frustration of not keeping up – but I do get joy from it, most rides I find something to smile about – whether it’s railing a berm, clearing a climb or just a few seconds of nirvana-flow there’s always something. Doesn’t even have to be the riding – the other day I was out, not really enjoying it, I stopped because I felt crap. Whilst feeling crap I sat watching a squirrel for a couple of minutes – just running around doing squirrel stuff and not giving a crap about the bloke on the bike watching him – that made me smile. I cracked on with the ride and thought about the squirrel – got me through the ride.
    We should all talk more – and remember we’re not all on our only and the only ones that feel like this.

    Keep on rollin’ @keeponrollin

    Great writing, very humble and open, thanks for sharing.

    The way I read this, at least as it relates to my own experience (which matches that of the author), is that biking can offer a wonderful way out of these internal struggles, but at the same time can develop into a dependency issue for precisely that reason

    In other words, for me at least, it can become the only reliable escape, a tricky trap to fall into as biking clearly doesn’t fulfil all the needs of a human being and a simple mechanical can them blow up into an existential crises!

    Hopefully we all find our ways through I guess.

    Thanks again for sharing 🙂

    I don’t usually comment, but THANK YOU for writing this and to ST for publishing. All the best to all.

    Thanks to the author and Singletrack for writing/publishing the article, respectively. Having had depression (although thankfully not quite as severe as the author) this article does make a connection with me.

    For those with a friend or loved one with depression: make sure they know you’re there for them but don’t (necessarily) do obviously noticeable things for them. For me, it felt like they were interfering but YMMV; it depends on the individual.

    With regards to explaining depression to others, I found this blog post helped my Mum understand:

    FAO any sufferers out there: if you fancy some company on a ride then let me know – I’m based in the North West but happy to travel.

    A good read, thanks for sharing. Its great to see more and more people writing and sharing their experiences and emotions on the issues of mental health, I know how hard it can be……but thanks again for sharin.

    A good read, thanks for sharing. Its great to see more and more people writing and sharing their experiences and emotions on the issues of mental health, I know how hard it can be……but thanks again for sharing.

    Depression can leave an indelible stain on one’s soul. What begins as a shadow at the day’s edge can, unchecked, poison every aspect of life be it work, friendships or family. Exercise is a glorious way to chase the darkening gloom from your world but it is a constant battle. Please keep riding and please keep talking if not to those who love you then at least to friends or even to your fellow cycling addicts. And to those who have not been bitten by the horror that is depression please remember to invite that friend you’ve not seen for a while out for a spin, you may be doing more than saving their bike from the indignity of rust and neglect.

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