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When I was anxious and depressed, cycling put me on the road to happiness | Charles Graham-Dixon

Jan 2nd, 2018 by

I found comfort with CBT and medication – but then I discovered cycling, and it saved me, revealing a mental strength I didn’t know I possessed

At 25, I suffered my first panic attack. Hungover at a concert, the now all-too-familiar sensations of dread, sweats, cotton-dry mouth and a racing heart enveloped me. Unsure what was happening, I felt fear and an overwhelming need to escape the auditorium – but situated in a long row of people and within a silent audience, I felt trapped. The thought of making a spectacle of myself by leaving mid-performance unsettled me as much as the anxiety attack, so I did nothing. The concert finally ended and I escaped into the blessedly cool air – upset, exhausted but elated to be out of there. This marked the start of a cycle of anxiety, depression and OCD, which has never fully gone away. For a long time, the spectre of further panic attacks meant avoiding enclosed spaces as fear held me in its iron grip. I desperately wanted to wrestle back control of my anxiety.

What began as a way of avoiding panic attacks has become my primary form of transport and my daily dose of therapy

Related: Why cycling is great for everyone – not just cyclists

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