What Goes Up…..

….must come down.  This gravitational truth hit me with some force this morning.  I was taking part in the Capital to Coast charity bike ride – something I have done ten times in the last eleven years.  It is a hilly 61 mile route from south London to Hove – which is where I live – on the South coast.

I know the route pretty well.  9 miles into the ride we tackle a short, but steep climb up Epsom hill.  This followed by a long downhill sweep.  As I changed gears and relaxed into the descent I was hit with the shattering realisation that I have been on a pretty steep emotional descent myself over the past couple of weeks.  The road rose ahead of me once more to be followed by another steep descent.

Cycling up and down hills – a pretty neat metaphor for a mood swing disorder, huh?  I don’t think so.  The descents are exhilarating, the climbs give me a wonderful sense of achievement.  But today the descents whizzing through the Epsom Downs were full of foreboding. I kept pedalling, nonetheless, despite the sudden jerk of emotional turmoil that drove a spike through my thoughts.  Winston Churchill ( a sufferer of depression himself) once offered this advice: ‘When the going gets tough, keep going.’. And that is exactly what I did.  I was joined at this point on the ride by a whole host of other philosophical thoughts, aphorisms, sayings and guidance.  ‘Stay in the present moment’ – something that is important to do when cycling at 25mph down a hill with blind corners and other riders in front and behind you.  That was no good.  Mentally, the present moment was full of painful realisation.  My personal motto: ‘And this too shall pass’.  Well, yes, my stable, buoyant mood of several months standing has evidently passed.

Mentally, I felt like I had nowhere to turn.  A man even fatter than me, riding a heavily laden Brompton fold – up commuter bike passed me with ease on a hill.  A father and his young daughter eased their way past me on their tandem.  My feet were turning the pedals, my fingers were changing the gears, but my mind was lying in a ditch by the side of the road.

And then there was a short, heavy shower.  I told myself it wouldn’t last, and it was over as abruptly as it had started.  My mood recovered somewhat at that point, but there’s no denying it’s going to take more than  a bit of sunshine, a sit down and a nice cup of tea to put me back on my bike again.


Let me do my work each day;

and if the darkened hours of despair overcome me,

may I not forget the strength

that comforted me in the desolation of other times. May I

still remeber the bright

hours that found me walking

over the silent hills of my

childhood, or dreaming on the

margin of the quiet river,

when a light glowed within me,

and I promised my early God

to have courage amid the

tempests of the changing years.

Spare me from bitterness

and from the sharp passions of

unguarded moments. May

I not forget that poverty and

riches are of the spirit.

Though the world know me not,

may my thoughts and actions

be such as shall keep me friendly

with myself. Lift my eyes

from the earth, and let me not

forget the uses of the stars.

Forbid that I should judge others

lest I condemn myself.

Let me not follow the clamour of

the world, but walk calmly

in my path. Give me few friends

who will love me for what

I am; and keep ever burning

before my vagrant steps

the kindly light of hope. And

though age and infirmity overtake

me, and I come not within

sight of the castle of my dreams,

teach me still to be thankful

for life, and for time’s olden

memories that are good and

sweet; and may the evening’s

twilight find me gentle still.

Max Ehrmann (1872 – 1945)

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One Response to What Goes Up…..

  1. Caroline says:

    Hi Nicolas, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you to take your time and be patient. You know that it will get better and you will pass this phase albeit that it is hard to “ride it out”. Stick with it and stay strong. Take care, Caroline


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