Recovering mentally - advice?-
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Dec 2011

    Recovering mentally - advice?

    So I'm back on my bike again (I came off at speed on a hill on the way to work ten months ago and the bike spun and smashed me in the mouth, breaking my front tops and knocking out my bottom three, cutting my lip open and giving me concussion and severe whiplash). I'm 90% better back-wise, swimming and doing yoga and football and all that, but I'm struggling a bit mentally and was wondering if you guys had any tips.

    For instance, tonight I was heading down a hill near my house and half way down I suddenly had a freak out, I suddenly saw myself flipping over the front of the bike and smashing into the ground. I froze completely, I felt sick and terrified, and although I managed to keep control and get down the hill (with my brakes on full pelt), I felt anxious until I could sit down and have a drink a bit later! This has happened a few times - mostly on the hill where I did it, but I push through it each time, though it's a horrible feeling.

    I'm not sure whether continuing to ride (I've been back on for about six weeks to two months now) will do it or whether I need to see a psychologist, or go on a 'cycling confidence' course or something.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    i'm not a psychologist, but a few thoughts on my own experience breaking my arm:

    -when in such a situation, try to force yourself to visualize the successful out come (for example, visualize yourself smoothly reaching the bottom of the hill and braking to a complete, controlled stop)
    -afterwards, try some deep breathing exercises to try and calm the anxiety
    -additional safety gear--for me, a full face helmet and knee pads have helped my confidence quite a bit. my friend make fun out of me, but i absolutely don't care

    hope that helps
    94 Specialized Rockhopper

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: dickeydoo's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Take the more challenging sections slower than you normally would and ease back into things. Take baby steps and gradually pick up the pace along with getting on the harder trails. your confidence will come back! Good Luck.
    You will be scarred for life if you click my avatar

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    You got this bro!!!! It's just gonna take some time to build up confidence again. I started mtb because I wanted to push my limits and see how far I can go. It's almost like your 'limits counter' has been reset. Time to start increasing that counter! Take it slow and you'll be back in no time. Like others have said, visualize your line and take it confidently.

  5. #5
    El Pollo Diablo
    Reputation: SnowMongoose's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    +1 on Full face + knees.
    Hell, your thread makes me want to wear my FF at all times.

    Armor up, start riding again.
    The more you ride, the more normal it will feel, the less opportunity your brain will have to freak out and try to kill you.
    I'm back on the bike after rupturing my spleen (on my dirt jumper) last month, so I feel some of your pain. Jump back on, try to focus on how damn much you wanted to ride since the accident.
    (that's how it was for me at least, cabin fever big time)

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Just give it time. Getting all queasy and nervous doesn't help the actual riding, it makes it more dangerous. Take up hiking and swimming for the next few months, maybe you got back in the saddle too soon. Don't force it. Heck, take off a year, whatever, the bike will still be there.
    Wait your turn, take your turn, cover your azz John Correia

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    I had a concussion at the start of 2011.
    I had a lot of anxiety issues and it didn't help that I worried a lot before too. I just remind myself that everyone's moving on in life and I can't sit there worrying at letting that limit me from the things I enjoy.

    I'm now back at Judo and getting back into Mountain biking again. It took me a good year to get over the fear of hitting my head again.

    Life goes on and you'll get over it, do it at your own time man.

  8. #8
    I always bleed like this.
    Reputation: PoorBehavior's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Your body let's you know there is a problem by making you feel pain. I think it is the same mentally. I don't mean that you have a brain injury, just that your mind is telling you that you are not at the confidence level that you should be for what you are doing. The slow down, take baby steps advice is accurate I think.

    Earlier this season I went off of a log. About thirty feet long it is a fallen tree with the top 1/3 chainsawed off. It is on the trail, not crossing anything, been on and off it more times than I can remember. I was not paying attention and slipped my tire off the side with a couple of foot drop. Slammed my shin hard, bruised my thigh bone deep, bruised my ribs, put my right hand down instinctively and watched my fingers bend back so far I knew that I broke them, broke the skin on my forearm and hit hard enough on my shoulder that I got a contact scab and no more wide pullups do to the crackling in there when I try. It was the only hit I can remember that made me instantly nauseous. After, I collected myself and realized that my fingers were sore but fine and everything else was minor, (hopefully the shoulder will come around).

    My accident was nothing compared to yours, and I have had mental issues all year now crossing bridges I never gave a second thought to before. I have 40 static line jumps below 1000ft, most at night. I still occasional use high explosives. I am not usually affected by things like this but I am now. I figure that I just need to ride more, get more time on the trail and when I come to something I am not comfortable with I walk it and screw anyone who cares.

    I am not trying to hijack the thread and make this about me. Just want to point out that you are not the only one, it is natural and you are going to have a recovery period that is not totally under your control, much like a physical injury. Good luck, keep riding, and as MLK said:

    "If you can't fly, run. If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, crawl, but by all means keep moving."

  9. #9
    Rep Power Infinity +2
    Reputation: brad72's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    I agree with the others and just take it easy for a while. Anxiety is your brains response to what it perceives as a threat and obviously the injury you gave you a big jolt both physically and mentally. A bit like if you were attacked by a big dog. Next time you see a dog, big or small, or hear a dog growl you will get that surge of adrenalin and panic like it was the first time, and it will take time to get over that. Your brain is just doing what it evolved to do, protect you from danger, except the danger isn't a woolly mammoth or Sabre tooth tiger, is is gnarly hill.

    Go for easy rides and rides you enjoy. It will take a while to get back the pre accident confidence but it will come back. It's all about desensitising yourself to that threat till the threat is no more. If you get really stuck see a psych. It is amazing how in a few visits they can transform your thinking and give you the right tools to get over your problem.

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