Olympic track cycling champion Victoria Pendleton has lifted the lid on her battle with depression and the surfing trip to Costa Rica that helped her banish her demons
Pendleton recalled the moment she was sitting down with enough drugs to take her own life and the negative spiral of events that very nearly made her do so.
The 38-year-old revealed how her mental health began to deteriorate shortly after returning from failed attempt to summit Everest in May last year.
A bout of hypoxia meant that Pendleton was forced to turn back on the trip she had spent the last 18 months training for but it was only the tip of the iceberg.
Following the breakdown of her marriage’ the double Olympic champion was diagnosed with severe depression and prescribed more drugs in the form of tranquilisers and sleeping tablets.
“It was an accumulation of factors'” she said in an interview with the Telegraph.
“I went from this full-on environment with avalanches breaking above my head’ jumping across crevasses where you might die if you fell in to coming back here’ to a property I was potentially selling because I needed to move on with my life.
“I didn’t really have security in where I was living’ what I was doing next’ the whole divorce’ how I was feeling about that. It just overwhelmed me.”
“It must have been about 6.30am and I had been awake for hours.
“I remember lying there with tears rolling down the side of my face. Not really crying but just feeling a sense of hopelessness.
“I was so low. So helpless. And I just thought: ‘I don’t want to see tomorrow.'”
It was at this point that Pendleton considered taking a drug overdose but after calling her former psychiatrist at British Cycling Steve Peters’ was convinced otherwise.
“I’m so grateful that he picked up. Because I don’t think I would be here if he hadn’t'” Pendleton admitted.
Having given up on using drugs to aid her recovery’ she decided to take herself surfing in Costa Rica last August’ which proved to be a turning point for her.
Pendleton’s epiphany moment came after bumping into a few fellow surfers and having the simplest of exchanges.
“We were floating out back. And they were like ‘Is there anywhere else you’d rather be right now?'” said Pendleton’ who has since become a patron of The Wave Project’ a charity which uses surfing as therapy to help young people suffering mental health issues or from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“And I remember looking back at the jungle’ over this crystal-clear water’ in the early morning sun’ just going’ ‘You know what? This is pretty good.'”
“I know I’m in a fortunate situation that I can go off to Costa Rica and do what I did. Not everyone is that lucky.
“But that doesn’t change the fact that taking yourself outside your comfort zone could play a massive part in getting yourself back on track.
“There are other ways [than drugs] of getting yourself out of a very uncomfortable’ very dark place. By doing something physical’ something outdoors. Something challenging. Taking risks.”
Read the full interview here: telegraph.co.uk
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