I had an interesting experience yesterday which I think will help me a lot in the future and by sharing the process I went through I think could help others who might have been in a similar situation.
So I was climbing over the mountains on the bike. It was another tough day of cycling with a lot of uphill through a very mountainous area in Portugal. This was my 8th day of cycling in a row in my first week back, I was starting to feel physically and mentally exhausted, it had been another tough night in the tent and it was now also raining.
I felt really low. The lowest I've felt since I came back. I also had a recurring dream the night before, which was still in my mind and I wasn't feeling to great mentally. As I was climbing up one of the hills I could notice myself starting to think some really dark thoughts.
I made the mistake of identifying with these thoughts and let them consume me, leaving me in a very depressed state.
So I'm cycling up the hill thinking what's the point of all this, why am I even doing this. The usual negative thought patterns and thoughts that appear when I feel low. How was I back here again? I'd been doing so well and had a great first week, feeling really happy and healthy.
Then I just said to myself, you know what? I'm not accepting this state of mind. I'm not accepting a depressive state of mind again, I know how to change this. And that's what I did.
I started to use the tools that I have created this year to take me out of a depressive mental state. One of the tools I use is something I call the environment check up. I basically analyse every area of my environment and what's going on in this moment that could be leading to me feeling like this.
So I knew It was my 8th day in a row cycling and I hadn't had any breaks. So I was physically tired. When I'm really tired that's when I usually always feel low mentally, so rationalising that improved things. I also realised that I'd been camping for 5 nights in a row in cold temperatures, getting very little sleep. Ok so that's going to have an impact too, leaving me even more tired. I then realised I'd also been outside for 7/8 days on the road, and the cold temperatures were probably having an impact too. So I knew there were environmental factors in play, and that I was really tired.
Already I'd taken myself out of the depressive state and had rationalised why I was feeling the way I was.
Then I started to focus on all the things that had went well this year so far. I'd cycled for 8 days in a row, I had cycled from Spain to Portugal, I've been hitting all my goals, been meditating, been reading, been offline, been sober and generally been in a great proactive mindset since coming back. I started to feel even better when I realised how great a start to the year I've had.
I then focused on all the things I was grateful for. I was grateful for my life, for the opportunities I have, the fact I was in a beautiful country, the fact I have great friends and family, lots of people supporting me and another few dozen things I was grateful for.
Then I listed all the things I had to look forward to and all the good positive opportunities I had. I was now on top of the world, the feeling I had was up there with the happiest of feelings I've ever had. I went from slowly crawling up the hill on the bike to cycling up that hill like I was in the final stage of the Tour De France. I had more strength, I had more confidence, I was cycling like my whole life depended on it.
I got to the top of the hill and let out a huge scream of relief. As I flew down the other side, I was breathing in the fresh mountainside air happy as Larry, feeling grateful to be alive, cherishing a real special moment.
Two or Three minutes earlier I was in one of the worst moods of my life. I was questioning everything and back in a dark place. But my actions and my change of thoughts and mindset prove just how easily we can take ourself out of these depressive states of mind.
You see, what I've come to learn is that we get what we focus on in life. Cycling up that hill I was focusing on all the negatives in that moment. The result was that I felt depressed.
However, when I changed what I focused on from negative to positive, I instantly felt happier and was feeling on top of the world again. It just goes to show that we are in control of our thoughts and the subsequent feelings we experience. If you don't like a feeling that you have, you need to look at the thoughts that are creating it.
Thoughts become feelings.
So next time anyone is feeling depressed, anxious or suicidal. Try to become an observer of your mind and your thoughts. What are you thinking about, maybe consciously or unconsciously that is leaving you feeling that way. Then try think more positive thoughts, take a brighter outlook, think of things you have in your life instead of what you don't have or try to think of all the opportunities and possibilities you do have in your life.
I'm massively focused on my mind and my thought's at the moment. We usually live our lives in a daydream, lost in our thought's, making the mistake that that we are our thought's. We aren't. Thoughts are just thoughts. Learn to take a step back from them, watch them without judgement and if you don't like what you see, try to think more positive thoughts.
That experience on the Portuguese mountain will live with me forever because anytime from now on that I ever feel depressed or suicidal, I'll just remember back to that time where I totally transformed my state within minutes. Going from majorly depressed to extremely happy.
We can all change our states with a change in mindset, thought patterns or through even changing our physiology. Yesterday was a great example of that, which I'll use as a reference point in the future and I hope some others can too
*We would just like to note that should you ever feel this low or suicidal you should always contact a mental health professional. In Josh's words he has "worked with an amazing team of mental health specialists who have broken down my barrier and are starting to uncover the real issues that cause me to think and feel the way I do". and that "Going on a spiritual journey within yourself is definitely one of the hardest things you can ever do. However it’s also the most rewarding thing you can do with your life, and if you want to change the way you think and feel it is essential".
Josh Quigley is a suicide survivor, cycling around the world to raise awareness of mental health. Attempting an incredible 50,000 miles across 80 countries. Through Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and then finally North America before returning home to Scotland. Join Josh in his journey to happiness via Facebook or his website here