Coping with Depression On & Off the Bike

Mental health issues touch us all, whether we want to admit it or not. And, unfortunately, most people don’t want to admit it. But here’s the reality: 322 million people worldwide live with depression. In America, between 2013 and 2016, 8.1 percent of people aged 20 and older experienced depression in a given two-week period—and the numbers are higher among women.


The facts

Depression is characterized by persistent feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or emptiness; loss of interest or pleasure; difficulty concentrating or sleeping; and decreased energy or appetite. Yes, we all experience these feelings occasionally, from breakups or job changes, deaths, or other life stressors, but if these feelings persist over two weeks or more, they may constitute major depressive disorder. But guess what? That’s nothing to be ashamed of! With 10 percent of American women experiencing depression, you are not alone, and there is help out there.

Handle With Care

To help battle the stigma associated with depression and other mental health issues, the Handle Bar formed Handle with Care in 2017 to start a conversation off the bike with riders and the community, peel away stigma, and get real about our mental health. From eating disorders to PTSD, the Handle Bar community has come together over the past year and a half to talk openly about mental health issues, share strategies for coping, and bring our voices out of the bike room.

One of these community members is Paige DeSisto, a clinical social work student and Handle Bar rider.

Paige will share her family’s experience with depression and coping strategies at the next Handle with Care event: Bike & Bark, a sweat-inducing, stress-relieving ride and discussion at Handle Bar Harvard Square on Sunday, October 28, at 1 p.m. We’ll recharge on the bike with a 45-minute ride led by Jill K., followed by healthy snacks from SOULFU3L and Nourish Your Soul, and an informal discussion with Paige on how to recognize depression in yourself and get help for yourself or a loved one facing their own mental health challenges. She’ll also share some tips on how to elevate your mood—hint: hitting the bike room works for us!

Bike & Bark

Where does the bark come in, you might be wondering? PUPPIES! We’ll be joined at the studio by four local emotional support dogs—Griffey, Benji, Rusty, and Penny—and their owners to hear about the benefits of owning a therapy dog. Besides the instant boost of a cuddle or a friendly lick, emotional support dogs can help people living with depression by providing companionship, a sense of purpose and responsibility, and unconditional love, which can be a true comfort when dealing with negative emotions. We hear Griffey the labrador loves belly rubs!

Depression is real, and it’s not as rare as you might think. Forty people enter the bike room each ride, all experiencing different emotions and facing unique challenges. Some may hit the bike to recharge or reconnect with themselves, others may practice self care by petting a dog, talking to a friend or professional, reading a book, or petting a dog. Whatever your method, we hope you’ll join us and Paige—and Griffey, Benji, Rusty, and Penny, too!—on October 28 to share these coping strategies, meet other members of the HB community, and face the stigma of mental illness together. Save your spot for Bike & Bark today! Click here to purchase.


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