Hello, remember me? You might have noticed that I’ve not been around for a while. Maybe my absence went completely unnoticed? Thankfully though, from what I’ve read and witnessed over the last few weeks, I’ve seen that some people did notice, and those people may have helped to start pulling me out of my rut.
In 2022, something happened, something that I still can’t really explain to people. Only a few have actually understood because of their own similar personal experiences. Back in October 2022, my brain just seemed to give up, I couldn’t handle the simplest of things without fear of a huge negative reaction in my head. At work, my brain would hear words from people, but those words didn’t get processed. Things weren’t happening, I couldn’t settle, tasks weren’t being completed and plans weren’t being fulfilled, I didn’t know what was wrong. I was hugely irritable and prone to explode at the stupidest little problem. My mood was rock bottom, often spending entire days deciding what to do then getting to the end of the day with nothing done at all.
So I dragged myself to see a GP for the first time in 30 years. After consultations, phone calls and assessments, the verdict was in, Moderate to Severe Depression and Anxiety!
I’m now living in an entirely new world, with everything pivoting around Mental Health, including PHQ9 and GAD7 assessments and some catastrophising thrown in too!
Two months off work followed, and eventually I left altogether in early 2023. And that is where we are today.
Why did it all go wrong
As the proverb goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!” All work and no play is also a sign that your work/life balance is wrong. For several years, since the start of Covid, I ploughed all my energy into work. As a bike recycling charity, we were classed as an essential service – and demand was high. This led to all sorts of pressures; at the start, there was always a constant thought about how long we could go on for. There were fewer donations and the global bike parts pipeline broke down with basic parts becoming impossible to source. I was the main driving force during this period – it was draining, with long hours and constant decision making eventually leading to chronic burnout.
Normally online trolls can be silenced with a single sentence. The reason they can be silenced quickly is that they have nothing more about them other than the stupid initial comments they make. They find it difficult to expand on their own stupidity, and normally when they are challenged they retreat back under the rock they crawled out from.
I’ve accepted for years that I’ve put myself out there, on the internet, as an expert in my field. When you do that, you become a target. The visibility you create attracts negativity and challenges. For whatever reason, jealousy or whatever, some folk just like to have a pop and to bring you down.
Normally, the positivity I receive vastly out ways the negatives.
However, when your mental health is affected, when your mood is so low, and you cannot deal with things as you normally would, the small and insignificant things become the biggest problems. Your brain sees everything in a different way and it’s very hard to keep your perspective. Small but prolonged troll attacks from the end of 2020 built up in a poorly brain that wasn’t in the best place to deal with them .
I stopped engaging with anything other than work. My SBDU Facebook page ground to a halt and I stopped all interaction with Retrobike (best decision ever!) I let hundreds of my SBDU emails go unanswered and couldn’t even face seeing my own bikes. Everything I was working on with my bikes stopped. I’m well known for my precision and attention to detail. My workbench and work area is always kept ordered. But here is how it looked in October 2022 at the height of my problem, a year after my last blog post. When I see this picture, it really shows me how low I got.
Compared to the norm – the image below was probably taken approx 2019, one of my busiest blogging periods, but still maintaining a really clean and organised workbench.
The Last Bike I Bought
October 22nd 2021 was the date of my last post, approx 500 days ago. It was a few words about SB95, a beautiful early and different Reynolds 531 SBDU frame with Nervex Pro lugs. So what, you might ask, happened to 2022? Where did that year go? Apart from being almost non existent on social media for 16 months, I did buy one bike in March 2022, but had no motivation to blog about it, even though it is an absolute gem of an SBDU bike. The desire to put my fingers on the keyboard just wasn’t present. I bought it, brought it home for these pictures and then took it to work. And for almost a year, it stood next to the shop counter. I’ve not bought a bike since.
SB1948 is an early 1978 61 cm Reynolds 753 special order that I bought from the original owner. It retains all the original components apart from the pedals. It’s a unique bike with special request paint and gearing that suited that original owner.
It is still as I bought it almost one year ago. I’ll do a slightly late ‘New Arrival’ post in the next few days.
Where Am I At Now
My SBDU Collection
I’m going to slowly have a fresh start. That means I’m going to move some frames on, not all, but some. I’ve purposely collected different examples of Reynolds tubing and SBDU frame features in order to push my blog research. Many of these frames have served their purpose well; I’ve got my images and measurements and the frames are now just hanging up.
I’m going to do this slowly and at my own pace, carefully picking the frames that are going. I have some duplicates and some that I will never get around to working on.
Some have already gone, SB8851, SBW9262 and TI40-192
I’m going to hang onto my favourites, and also those that have significant historical SBDU provenance. This is a massive shift for me, and it has all been brought on by a need to do things differently.
Not having the pressure and stress of work has given me time to focus on myself – I’ve had the ‘me time’ recently that was missing from the heavily work biased work/life balance I used to have. My workspace is starting to look much better and has instantly been easier to work in.
I take after my dad, he loved buying new tools, and I have always had that same urge. I think I can easily put any professionally equipped workshop to shame. And it’s not a case of ‘all the gear and no idea’ – one option I have is to turn my tools and mechanical knowledge and experience into work.
Where’s My Head At Now
I’m nowhere near 100%, you can’t quickly recover from the place I was at. I have to be very careful everyday and not overload myself because I know I can sink quickly.
Karen has been amazing and she has allowed me to do what I need to do to get myself together. Leaving work was a huge decision and she fully supported me during that time.
I’m going to continue to keep a low profile on social media, with respect to getting involved in threads, but I’ve started to open up again to answer messages. I’ve actually just spent an evening giving SBDU advice and info which is something I’ve avoided for a good while. I’m also going to eventually get SB1948 blogged.
Above all, I’m more positive, which is good!