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A Personal Story by Albert Highe, someone living with Kennedy's Disease
I used to participate heavily in many sports, and now it is very difficult for me as I lose strength and control over my body. There are three things that have helped me combat depression.
My dog, Buster, contributes to number one and number two. He is a great companion and loves to be with me and play with me no matter what I look like to myself. He makes me laugh. And we all know that laughter is the best medicine.
His second contribution comes from his need to get exercise. 10-15 years ago, I used to take our former dog running with me and take her on walks every evening. Buster is only 2-1/2 and he needs a lot of exercise. I can't take him running or for walks. However, I sold my road bike which I can't ride safely anymore and bought a mountain bike. Now, I'm not going to ride up or down any mountains. However, the mountain bike is set up much differently than my road bike.
The road bike had narrow tires, a short wheelbase, drop-down handlebars, gear shift levers below my knees, and large frame so I couldn't put my feet down while I was in the saddle. You couldn't design a bike that was more inclined to throw its rider to the ground. In contrast, the mountain bike has a smaller frame (I even bought a frame size smaller than typical for someone my size) so its easier for me to get my leg over it. I also keep the seat height lower so I can place my feet on the ground while I'm still sitting in the saddle. It has upright handlebars so I can sit comfortably erect. And the large tires and long wheelbase makes it very stable. The gear shifts are built into the handles, so my hands never have to leave the handlebars. There is a nice three mile loop near where I live where I take Buster for walk/runs every other day. Without Buster, I would rarely leave the house. Because he depends on me for exercise, I get out of the house and take a slow ride on a flat dirt path. The path borders on a wildlife preserve and parts of it hug the San Francisco Bay. It always lifts my spirits to be outdoors, in the Sun, along the water, and moving, faster and farther than my body could manage alone.
The third activity I use to combat depression is to start my own business. I don't have the strength to work at it more than a couple of hours a day. However, I am very goal oriented and leaving work created a large hole in my self-esteem. With the business I can set modest goals for myself, control how many orders I take, and take my time to work when I am able. It provides a sense of accomplishment, at least for now.