They say you never see a motorcycle in front of a therapist’s office. Most of us, in fact, freely admit that there are days when we just ride to stay sane, and that sometimes the only place life makes any sense is inside our helmets. In this episode, I talk with someone who has put that to the test more than most. Cat Martin is a lifelong rider and a riding instructor who recently endured a series of painful losses in her life. She talks candidly about continuing to ride through that pain, and what your motorcycle can – and can’t – do for you when the chips are down.
Besides teaching, Cat Martin is an active member of Toronto’s burgeoning motorcycle community. You can follow her on Instagram at @bikercat13, and meet lots more of the cool people who ride the streets of North America’s fourth largest city. One such cool person she mentioned was @wobblycat, whose travels are also worth a follow.
When we talk about our bikes as therapists, as Cat and I did, most of us are talking about getting through tough times and bad days, but there are some riders out there who are chased by the black dog every day. Google offers up more than 8 million search returns for the query “motorcycle and depression”, so it’s impossible to suggest a definitive one. Especially interesting reading are the forums, where riders are amazingly frank about what their motorcycles mean to them as they fight their difficult and personal battles. Here’s a random example from ADVrider, and here’s one from Reddit… but there are many, and that says something all by itself.
Among motorcyclists, the most prominent advocate for mental health is arguably the Movember Foundation, though it focuses its work on men. Nonetheless, Movember and the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride have brought the difficult subject of depression into the conversation in our community, and hopefully will inspire more ways to support riders who suffer from it regardless of who they are. You can learn more about the Foundation’s work here.
An important closing thought: Your bike might help you stay sane, but if you’re in a crisis, riding it is only going to make things worse. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or showing signs of clinical depression, park your bike and get some help. You won’t be sorry, and that bike will be waiting for you when you’re ready for the road again.
If you enjoyed this episode’s playlist recommendation, you can learn more about The Weather Station here. Their music is available on iTunes, among the other usual places, and ‘Kept It All To Myself can be found here.