June 22, 2022, could have been a very fateful date for me and my family. I came very close to having that date on the righthand side of my tombstone. My August Podcast is dedicated to my June 22, 2022 crash. Visual aids help tremendously when explaining anything moving and on two wheels so I would encourage you to follow the YouTube Link below for the specifics of the crash:
As I alluded to in the Podcast above, I experienced some back pain shortly after the crash. I do have a history of back pain due to “left-sided paracentral disc protrusion [that] flattens the left L5 [nerve] root.” As a result, I am no stranger to steroids, Prednisone in particular, to deal with pain flare-ups. I will not bore the reader with my medical history. Suffice it to say the low back pain associated with these flare-ups borders on excruciating and obviously keeps me off my bike as I cannot stand up or move until the steroids have run their course. The steroids basically act like super anti-inflammatories, allowing for movement in the impacted discs/vertebrae.
A curious thing happened while I was on this course of medication. Serious. Negative. Talk. Awful stuff. And when I say awful, it was stuff that you would not even say to your worst enemy kinda awful. I understand the power of the mind and both the power of positive reinforcement and the power of negative reinforcement. However, I literally could not muster a positive thought.
We all have an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other. This felt like my angel had gone on vacation and my demon found himself a megaphone! So, having nothing else to do (this course of steroids and forced inactivity was a record-breaking three weeks), I grabbed my iPhone and simply punched in “Prednisone and mental health” and lo and behold, there was article after article on mental health and steroid use. The Mayo Clinic advised that “the most commonly reported corticosteroid-induced psychiatric disturbances are affective, including mania, depression, or mixed states.” Um, Bingo!
Fortunately, my symptoms were short-lived and dissipated within a relatively short period of time. I was unable to find any strong research on what percentage of the population is disposed to such symptoms when using steroids. All I know is that I fall into that category of patients, which both helps and haunts me should I ever (and it is most likely) need another course of steroids.
Both of my personal episodes in PTSD (detailed in the Podcast) and Mania served an educational purpose in my life. I have had plenty of clients experience the very real consequences of PTSD following a crash. I was already aware of how the mind can react to the stresses of a crash. But I had never experienced it for myself.
The mania I experienced with steroid use was a bit of an epiphany as I was able to connect the dots to similar symptoms as I looked back on past episodes of steroid use. But what stands out most to me is that these conditions are very, very real, and often, totally outside of the control of the afflicted person.
With the steroid use, there was solace as I lay in bed knowing that the symptoms would pass. For many, the symptoms have nothing to do with medication and may never end – a cross that is born for a lifetime.
Endurance athletes are conditioned to “push through the pain” or “tough out” a workout or race. While these approaches may make for success in achieving athletic goals, they are not effective in addressing mental health conditions that are external to the athlete or the patient. Simply stated, there are mental conditions that are no fault of the patient and often require the aid of professionals. I am glad to see the stigma around mental health dissipate over my lifetime. And I am thankful for the insights on a personal level gained over these last few weeks.