• Domestic Rider
  • Country: va
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Okay so here's part of a story from a while ago from where Alex Rasmussen talks about his depression after he stopped riding. I have summarized or translated the most interesting parts. The whole article here

Alex had finished work as expert commenting a Giro d'Italia stage last year when he had unraveled and fainted in his car in the parking lot. When he came back around he phoned his wife who directed him to a psychiatric hospital. Alex had already felt unease and that something was wrong for a couple of months before this episode.

- I don't want to say that I considered suicide. Missing will to live is what I want to say although perhaps it is the same thing. I did not want to get out of bed in the morning. I was stuck with the thought 'no one will notice if I am not around tomorrow'.

- I had a family and a sweet daughter but felt I needed more and that caused me to walk around with a depression and not own up to it. I knew it would come around because ex-cyclists had warned me about the fear of not being important anymore. I was not a cyclist anymore. What was I then? But even if I knew it would happen I could do nothing.

He wanted to tell his story to help other athletes. At the hospital he had hesitated because it had been hard to him to face that he was ill and needed to stay for some time in a psychiatric hospital to get better.

- I was really close to saying 'okay, it's fine' and leave. But I forced myself because it was not the easiest way. I felt I would have been a coward to walk. It was very unpleasant but sometimes in life you choose the harder way because it is the best solution.

Once inside the doubts had returned when he saw a schizophrenic woman ramble about seeing russian soldiers outside the house. After the first examination it was decided that Alex had to stay in the open part of the hospital. He was prescribed antidepressives. Later he was also diagnosed with ADHD and was prescribed medicine for that as well.

- From when my career had ended until the day I was hospitalized I had stayed in a deep black hole. I had thought it would pass or I tried to ignore it. The depression was most of all a result of a crisis of identity. When I raced my last track race in 2017 it was a great salute. And the next day no reporters or anyone called. Suddenly your telephone is dead and it was like that for a year. It was crazy hard to handle suddenly not being that cyclist. I felt a hole in my stomach and thought that it did not matter if I was here or not.

When in hospital Alex had noticed how the ADHD had contributed to worsen his state.

- In my career all aggression and excess energy had been used on cycling. My ADHD really come to the surface when I finished even though I had had it since childhood. I was frustrated and stuck in that state and could not stay inside of my body. And the depression made me not want to go cycling so that was a vicious cycle.

During his stay in hospital Alex had talked to a nurse every day and also had appointments with a psychiatrist.

- I talked to them about anything. Cycling, childhood, parents. I think I could have talked to anyone, you, a friend or a third person. It was just about talking about my problems and accepting. I thought for the psychiatrist it was about asking me about suicidal thoughts so if something happened they could say 'I had asked him'. I was annoyed that they focused on that also because it was like they were not serious and thorough but more because they had to do that.

He did not like being hospitalized more than anything else because he felt he did not fit in.

- In the open ward I could go out if I told them I did. It was a depressing place because it was full of people that were ill and obviously worse than I was. No one were like me, no one I could talk to. The others stayed in the common area drinking coffee and lemonade and eating cake. It was a little like visiting your grandma. So I stayed with myself because I did not want to be there at all.

- Then if I talked to the nurses they could not relate to my situation. They were like 'can't you just get a job'. They did not say it like that but they could not understand what I had come from and why it was so important for me to stay important. I should be grateful because I had a family. They said things to me I knew well and try to tell myself also. But when you still fell emptiness it's a selfish feeling in some way. It was hard.

Alex left the hospital after one month there. The medicine and talks has had the necessary effect says the doctors. He continues to talk to therapists but now feels ok so much that he has taken a break from that for a while. He is still medicated for ADHD but does not use antidepressives anymore.

- I'm much better now than last year. But I have no illusions. I can fall again and regress but not as hard as a year ago. If I start to feel things I will start treatment again. I think it's an ongoing process. I have to only take on so much that I can handle it and pay attention to my mental health.

Even compared to the other lost talents like Guldhammer and Mads Christensen and the ones who made it I think Alex had more talent than anyone. He had real power, like destroying equipment level power, and style. He could do mass sprints but mostly chose not to for lack of heart for it and because he had so many other skills. The best race for him was probably Paris-Roubaix but he only got to try it one time. He missed out on a time trial victory in the Giro because of a puncture in the last kilometre. That Alex was treated so badly by CSC is some real evidence of the stupidity of the directors there and it's such a shame that he could not find some other team that believed more in him. He is excellent on tv in studios before races or commenting races, is funny, draws on his own experiences, great knowledge and has nice stories, just really good.
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