The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is almost here! This Sunday, September 24th I will ride with fellow gents to raise awareness for Prostate cancer as well as mental health and suicide prevention.
What drew my attention to this ride originally was the idea of getting suited up and going out on my vintage styled bike. However after looking more into the Movember Foundation, I started reading stories about men dealing with depression and how 3 out of 4 suicides were men. That is a scary statistic and most men with depression do not reach out to others for help.
As someone who has struggled with depression I thought I’d share my story:
Five years ago I made the decision to get healthy, and to kickstart that process I had Gastric Bypass surgery one week before my 22nd birthday. It was a huge change in my life that completely changed the way my body processed nutrients, medications, and alcohol. It was a rocky few months and ended up in the hospital a few times for different complications. I began growing more and more frustrated that the decision to change my life and get healthy kept landing me in the hospital. During one of my stays I learned that my heart was not doing its job very well and had a resting rate between ranging from the mid teens to the mid twenties. If I were an accomplished olympic athlete this would not have been an issue, but seeing as I went from a 320lb guy to a 215lb guy something was not right. So at the advice of my cardiologist I had a pacemaker implanted in September of 2012.
Twenty-two years old and already I had to have a pacemaker put in. This hit me hard, a lot harder than I probably ever wanted to admit. Over time I got back into my regular routine, my heart now resting at 60 BPM. But as I slid back into my regular life, I started building resentments towards myself. I felt inadequate, I felt weak and I began to despise that my body was not capable of taking care of itself. Opening this door began to let other issues flood. Due to the pacemaker I was not able to go to Alaska and attend college there, the lack of closure with my parents separation and other insecurities were always on my mind. I slowly grew colder on the inside and allowed these resentments to boil over.
There were a few individuals I would talk to but I always felt ashamed for admitting I had issues. Rather than talking about my issues I tried to bury them. And the one thing that “helped” me was alcohol. Having gastric bypass, the alcohol affected me much faster. What would take 3 cocktails now only took a few sips to feel. As a young man in his early twenties this was a great thing, drinking had become cheap and easy! I felt more social, confident and for a while I stopped dwelling on past failures and insecurities. As time went on my drinking intensified, to the point where I was scaring my mom and brother. I began buying bottles of liquor and hiding them in my closet, pouring strong drinks and only drinking a quarter or half of it and passing out.
I drank because I enjoyed the feeling, I felt unburdened, I wasn’t beating myself up and holding onto my resentments, I was living in my own world free of worry. But in the real world I was straining relationships with my mom, I was not doing my best at work, and I was putting myself in harms way by drinking and driving, and poisoning my body.
My parents and my girlfriend told me I needed to stop, threatened with ultimatums, and did what they thought would shake me out of what I was in. They wanted me to see what I was doing and the toll it was taking. However I wasn’t ready to stop. I was “handling” my issues and myself in a way that working for me, but looking back I can see how wrong and how much of a jackass I was. My drinking continued off and on from 2013 until 2016, smooth talking my way into only drinking on weekends or only having one or two drinks and even hiding it altogether. At times I felt in control and that I had dealt with my depression, but it was an illusion I easily talked myself into. At this point drinking no longer helped with anything. While drinking I began to feel even more depressed and became even harder on myself. Rather than reaching out for help I sank deeper and deeper into my dark place.
Ten months ago today, I became clear headed enough and realized I needed to put an end to all of this. Unemployed, newly married and living at my mom’s I knew I needed to do something differently. I took my first steps into sobriety and took it one day at a time. It has been a difficult road, but by walking this path I have been able to pull myself together and make progress. I stopped using my resentments as a crutch and did the not so easy task of letting go of them. What amazes me is how much we burden ourselves, how we can carry so much weight by refusing to forgive ourselves. I found a strong support system in my family and with my wife, they were always there, suffering with me and waiting for the light to go off in my head. I am very blessed to have them still besides me today.
Depression is a huge weight that not everyone knows how to deal with. For us men and our man pride we are terrified of feeling weak. We all have an inner strength that helps us through the hard times, it may not be easy to find and sometimes we have to not be afraid to reach out for help. For me, simply saying that I am thankful to be here today is enough to ease my burden. I am not perfect, and I still make resentments, but I have learned to forgive myself and others. Depression may not be a subject everyone is jumping up and down to talk about, but it is a serious matter that we can all deal with in a supportive manner together.
So at the moment my Royal Enfield Continental GT does not want to start. I was stranded at work and tried everything to get the bike going. My coworker was able to kickstart it but I got overly excited and reved it up so he could hear the exhaust and it died. The battery is still good but the bike is not recharging itself. I'll be taking it in this weekend to see if my warranty covers the issue. I wont let this keep me from riding in September!!
I bought my helmet for the Distinguished Gentlemans Ride today. I purchased a Bilt Vintage Jet 3/4 helmet at Cycle Gear with a mirror bubble shield. One of the perks of working at Cycle Gear is my sweet discount. So far I have lightly sanded the matt black color away. I'll be primering it, then adding a red coat and a few white stripes on it. Not sure what decals I'll be putting on it but it will most likely be Royal Enfield Related. I will post pictures as I make progress!
The first time I saw the Royal Enfield Continental GT, I fell in love. It has a look to it that you don't see all that often. It may not be the fastest bike on the road, but you can't ride without a smile on your face. I am excited to take my GT and ride with others who feel the passion for cafe racers and classic bikes. Together we will ride to raise awareness for Prostate cancer, and men's mental health.
On Sunday the 24th of September, I will don my finest attire with my fellow men and women across the globe to join the fight with The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride to raise awareness for prostate cancer and men’s mental health. But before I press my tweed and polish my boots, I need you to donate what you can for this meaningful cause and help me reach my goal.
For your uncles, your brothers, your fathers and friends. Donate what you can, for their lives need not end.
Thank you for all the donations thus far!
Love ya bud.
To our awesome grandson so proud to be your grandparents. We love you.
Man, making the world a better place and looking classy as hell while doing it. Ride on sir!
Be careful and have FUN!!
I'm so proud of you!
Good luck with everything =]
A great cause! Good luck Steven :)
Best of luck to your cause!