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What spin has done for my mental health

What spin has done for my mental health

I feel like most of us remember our first spin class.

You were probably terrified (or was that just me?) Pumps and dips were new methods of torture and suddenly, Amy Schumer going fully delirious after her first (attempted) SoulCycle class was starting to make a lot of sense (thank you, I Feel Pretty).

Do you remember anything else about the day of your first spin class?

Because I can’t. Well, I know that I was clipping into a stationary bike for a Sweat Date as part of a job interview. But past that? Most days around that time are a blur to me. There was a consistent haze of sadness that overshadowed everything I was doing. It felt like I was functioning at less than half of my actual capacity- and that was on the days where I actually left my bed.

I didn’t get the job, but I got a piece of my life back that I didn’t realize I desperately needed.

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For a little over a decade, I have struggled on and off with mental illness. It’s hard for me to remember a time where I wasn’t living with the shadow of an eating disorder, riding waves of depression and anxiety. Even with knowing that something was wrong, it still took years for me to start seeking the treatment I deserved. By finding things that I loved to do, my reasons to keep living a fulfilled life grew. That’s where spin came in. Easily enough, sitting in a dark room with a bunch of sweaty strangers made that list for me.

Walking into the spin room meant walking away from negative self-talk, harsh self-judgment, and my feelings of worthlessness. I could say that I was genuinely happy during class and always had a high when I left. Spinning forced me to take better care of my physical well-being because the bike demanded it. There was a reason for me to focus on what my body could do and not what it looked like. I would look at the Stronger Than Yesterday neon sign at 6:00 am and be reminded I successfully made it through another night.

It crushed me when I had to cancel classes because I had worn my body so thin that I couldn’t spin safely. That motivated me to keep getting better, especially on the days when it felt like a battle I didn’t have a chance at winning. Even though I was living with an illness that thrives off isolation, I never felt alone with the bikergang. Over time and with a lot of therapy, I started having more good days than sad ones. Having energy became a new normal I had lost for a long time. And when I hit a low again, I knew I could always tune in and clip out to feel better for at least 50 minutes.

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YEG-Cycle is so much more than a spin studio to me, somewhere I could feel at home. I never would have guessed that the relationships I’ve built around a love for a spinning wheel would have such a major impact on my life. It’s a place where I know that it’s okay for me not to be okay. Mental illness may have a lifelong impact on me, and knowing there are spots where I will always be accepted- regardless of how well I am doing, means everything to me.

Mental illness is lonely, isolating, and can make you feel there is no help.  While there are many barriers to access treatment for mental health issues there are also so many groups and organizations trying to bridge the gap.  National Depression Screening Day is an initiative led by Calgary Counselling Centre. During the week of October 1–7, 2018 Calgary Counselling Centre is looking to raise awareness around depression and the impact it has on Albertans. During this time, their online depression-screening tool will open. This quick, free and anonymous depression-screening test can be taken from any computer or mobile device.

Take the test between October 1-7, 2018 by visiting: