‘Sea kayaking helps my recovery from depression’

Steven McKenzie reports for BBC Scotland:

Nick Ray has lived with severe depression for about 20 years, but finds relief exploring Scotland’s coast in his sea kayak.

The 57-year-old is open about his struggles with mental health.

On Twitter he describes himself as a depression sufferer and survivor, and suicide prevention advocate.

His own experience of depression has seen him end up in hospital on several occasions, including last year, and make an attempt to take his own life.

Nick says being outdoors – especially kayaking, a pursuit he took up about 35 years ago – plays a huge part in his recovery.

‘I feel very much at home in the outdoor realm and at ease with myself,’ he says.

Nick grew up in Zimbabwe in southern Africa and would join his father for adventures in the bush, and has worked as an Outward Bound instructor in Africa and Britain.

Nick moved to Scotland about 20 years ago and with his wife Karen, who is from Glasgow, has a son and a daughter. Nick and Karen live in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides.

“I love living in Scotland,” says Nick. “It has thousands of miles of coastline to explore.

‘There is a sense of wilderness but you are usually still within reach of a settlement or a small house.

‘Exploring Scotland’s coastline I get that feeling of being somewhere exotic.’

In his kayak, Nick says he finds metaphors for his experiences with depression.

“When I am paddling against the tide I know in a few hours I will be helped along by it,’ he says. ‘In terms of depression, when I am really struggling I know it won’t last forever and better times are ahead.’

He adds: ‘When I am out in the kayak I can focus on the present and enjoy a moment, and not worry about things in the past or worry about the future’ …”

You can read more (and watch an associated short video) from here.

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