As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Ride Republic’s Fitness Director, Rachel Rivers, writes candidly about her experiences of depression and anxiety and how exercise and music played a huge part in her recovery.
When I was twenty eight I was living in Los Angeles, enjoying a great job with a professional sports team. I had an active social life and bright career, when one day out of the blue I got a call that my father had died. However my mother was also battling cancer, so I knew it wasn’t going to end there.
Five weeks later, back in Los Angeles, I got another call that my mother was in the hospital and had only days left to live. Before I knew it I was back in the UK again, holding my mother’s hand in the hospital while she took her last breath. In complete shock and devastation, I returned back to the US, but it didn’t end there either…
Weeks later, again back in Los Angeles, I found myself squashed in a five car pile up car accident. My nerves were shot and my anxiety was running rampant. I then got another call a few months later saying my grandfather had died. In less than nine months I had lost my father, mother, grandfather and gotten into a bad car accident. Not to mention not having any family around, I was single and I lived alone. I finally felt beaten, broken and like a zombie. I quit my job and locked myself in my flat for a good three months- lifeless. At the young age of 28 years old I was suffering deeply from depression, insomnia and anxiety – and alone.
Until one day I picked up my headphones, open the doors to sunny California and started to run and run and run. Before I knew it I was at least 12 miles away from home and I had to get back, but I seemed to do it with ease. I actually couldn’t stop. Then everyday I would put on the same songs and kept running. I wouldn’t stop until I felt so exhausted that both my mind and body could sleep. With better sleep came a clearer mind during the day, with a clearer mind I could start to think rationally. With rational thoughts I could see that I still had life in me- I still had to fight.
Fourteen years on I still have very sad days and miss having a family but I know how to manage it. Exercise calms my nerves and music makes me smile, and the two together is my medicine. I would now consider myself a very positive and happy person. I have learnt to never give up, not let anyone or anything stand in my way (including myself) and to fearlessly beat to the sound of my own drum. I also aspire to help others along the way.
Rachel Rivers, Ride Republic’s Fitness Director & Instructor