Acute depression was killing him. He had an option to surrender. But instead he did something unexpected and found an amazing cure for his depression.
His name is Tariq Shakeel. A 28 year old accountant and tutor from New Delhi who get excitement from nature, forests, hills and rivers. And here he shares his an amazing story of how he got over acute depression by going on a motorcycle tour to a biker paradise — Kingdom of Bhutan!
“A ride for my life”
Depression is a disease, just like any other. You hear? People can give you support. But you have to treat yourself. This is what I was told by my councilor. And I was put on medicines.
Every depressed person has his or her own story of combating depression. So the same thing may work for few but not for others. My story is something weird. I decided to fight against it by doing what I am Good at. Ride. A ride for my life…
I didn’t have a set goal while I was riding. But I wanted to explore the world’s happiest country. Bhutan is a mountainous country. Nested in Himalayas, More than 60% of its area is still forest covered. It’s a land of History, Mystery, and culture. I can relate myself to nature very well. That is the reason I wanted to take my bike on a trip. I wanted to live there. Be there. A depressed person does not have control over their thoughts. Biking gave me that freedom and control. Freedom of thoughts… to explore. To stay. To be the one.
Talking about inspirations, Biking trips have always been an integral part of my life. Since my childhood days, my dad used to take me along on long bike trips, which encouraged me to take a step further and ride across borders. So there I was Cruising through the thunder dragon land.
The trip from beginning to end
My initial plan was to start from Delhi and cross Lucknow via the longest expressway Agra Lucknow expressway of whopping 550 kms. Next day reach Silliguri via Muzaffarpur and cross the Indo-Bhutan border and enter Bhutan via Phuntsholing. Then Cruise across Bhutan starting from West Bhutan and going towards east Bhutan – the route plan was Phuntsholling – Thimphu – Haa – Chelela pass – Paro – Tigers nest – Thimphu – Dochula pass – Punakha – Chimi Lhakhang – Phobjika – Gangtey – Trongsa – Chumhi – Jakar – Tang valley – Ura Valley – Jakar – Trongsa – Tingtibbi – Gelephu(border city) – Silliguri – Lucknow – Delhi.
I had the option to ship my bike from Delhi to Siliguri and then ride to Bhutan or to start itself from Delhi to Bhutan. I choose the latter. So I set the starting and ending point as Delhi. Indo-Bhutan border was around 1600 kilometers. I entered from Phuntsholing and took my exit From Gelephu on the other side.
The real inspiration
Throughout the journey everything was memorable and specially for me because I was in a very bad condition just a week before the trip. My hands used to shiver, and my body used to shake. I was not weak, but I was that low on my confidence.
For me the real inspiration is Bhutanese people and their devotion and loyalty towards their kingdom. Every one followed rules. The generosity, the sweetness, the charm of people out there for each other, the dedication towards work, all these were very inspiring.
Funny thing was that I had to eat rice for continuous 5 days. And I ate red rice even for my breakfast. Funny, isn’t it?
Memories out there waiting for you to live
The biggest challenge was handling my own self. I was shattered and hopeless.
Every morning during my trip I had to get up and remind myself that look out, there are memories out there waiting for you to live. You are a fighter. Find yourself. Be a Spartan.
The most beautiful memories, which I had while riding through the roads to almost no roads, I could actually see the clouds floating through me and sometimes below me as well. Just like a Fairy world.
This 14 days journey changed everything for me. From dancing to the beats of a local club in Trongsa to roaming aimlessly in the plains of Bhumthang valley, from staying in karma lodge in Paro to a typical traditional homestay in Phobjikha, from local vegetable markets to eating cheese dishes or Dashi. From kids playing football to men playing archery, everything was so fresh and full of energy. It seemed as if they were screaming and shouting at me for hiding myself away from nature and at the same time with the warmth they were trying to convey me that no matter what happens how you end up in your life, you will always turn towards us and we will never let you down
I was going to change and I was going to change for good.
The best experience I can say is watching the tsechu (festival) in Bhumthang. Mask face dance with traditional songs are still in my memory.
Whenever you are in problem, throttle it out
My goal was to let go of what I am, and emerge in something new. So I might become something what I really am. To prove the saying – Whenever you are in problem, throttle it out.
I was suffering from depression, and I am not ashamed about it. I am not ashamed about it just like any other person suffering from any other illness or disease. Depressed people feel incredibly guilty about this. While I was going through depression, every next person told me to come out of it. This approach backfires. It’s hard to imagine how a person who was depressed would not try to come out of it even if they could. But I have.
This journey was entirely different from what I thought it would be. Nature is pure mysterious and always giving. And so was I. Time and again people have shown their true colors and selfish side to nature but it always gives back the pleasure and the beauty of being with it.
“Anxiety dissolved in the cool crystal clear waters of the numerous rivers and lakes”
I left a piece of my heart in this forbidden kingdom of Bhutan. I would definitely visit it again.
This 14 days journey changed everything for me. The way I looked upon my life and myself has taken a leap.
Rolling on Thousands of kilometers of tarmac, I had plenty of time to think about myself. When you are in depression your thoughts are like a pendulum oscillating between the two phases of life, but when I was looking at the world through the visor of my helmet, the world seems so different. I was right there in the moment. For that moment everything just seem so easy and all my problems vanished in the thin air of kingdom of Bhutan. Depression transformed into excitement and anxiety dissolved in the cool crystal clear waters of the numerous rivers and lakes.
You must have heard that “motorcycling is the best medicine”. I felt it too..!
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