It’s a perfect day for riding. Temperatures in the high-70s, low-80s. The humidity is low, the sun is bright, and there are no clouds in the sky. But I did’t want to ride today.
They say that PTSD gets worse before it gets better. Since arriving in San Francisco, I haven’t wanted to take off on nice days. In fact, I mostly have ridden on foggy and colder days.
September 11, 2001 in New York City was a day much like today. Not a cloud in the sky, warm and sunny. I’ve been in this motorcycle-riding heaven of a town for nearly five months and though I’ve been aware of my sadness on nice days like today, it finally came to a head. I’ve felt depressed before on nice days. This depression got worse and today it got so bad, nothing helped but lying down. I tried prayer, on my knees and crying tears of frustration and asking for forgiveness. I spent time with my dog. I tried preparing a tasty lunch. I thought I was going to have a productive day when I woke up this morning. But after stepping outside into the perfect weather, life did not feel worth living.
The depression grew as morning became afternoon. Finally, after lunch and praying, i lied down to take a nap. But I couldn’t sleep. The sadness still grew.
Four months ago, I learned a technique called TIPI. It’s a French acronym. The idea is that with every emotional difficulty, there is physiological sensation. We can not concentrate on both the emotion and the physical sensation at the same time. So, in the moment we feel the emotion, if we close our eyes and observe our physical sensations and let the sensations do their thing while continuing to observe our bodies, the emotion will dissipate.
Since I could not nap, I started paying attention to my body’s sensations. The only thing that felt prevalent was the squeezing sensation in my chest. I focused on it and then sought other physical sensations. The squeezing subsided and there was no other physical anomaly. What was left was the warmth of my hands. I opened my eyes, the depression lifted.
Yesterday, I could not think clearly. I could not read simple things like menus. I was in no condition to ride. The last time I rode in this state, I almost went through a red light. My mind was exhausted and constantly elsewhere, not present. But at this moment I have clarity. There is hope again.