I heard a interview with a vet and climber once who described the appeal of alpinism as "all of the good parts of combat, without the shooting or any conscious thing trying to cause me harm".
Skydiving sounds similar, if shorter in duration than 3 weeks on K2 or something.
I get a similar benefit from flying small airplanes — the intense focus on every detail is like a forced meditation: you CAN’T be depressed because there’s no room in your thought for it.
The feeling for me continues several hours after flying or climbing — you feel almost weightless and you are very deliberate in your actions (driving after flying finds me less impatient, much more spacially aware and just calmer.)
I am only speaking for me, but I feel there is something too this — not just for depression, but cyclothymia and mania as well.
High altitude meditation!
Never heard that from a tandem first time jumper, only those that made it their lifestyle.
Never heard of a tandem jumper saying that, but then, how big is my sample size?
I did MFF and got my A License and stopped jumping because I honestly didn't enjoy the community.
I assume you are talking about flying an typical small airplane?
You can learn to paraglide for well under $2k.
I'm never happier than when I'm flying. I can see how a similar effect happens to sky divers.
"When I decided that I too must pass through the experience of a parachute jump, life rose to a higher level, to a sort of exhilarated calmness. The thought of crawling out onto the struts and wires hundreds of feet above the earth, and then giving up even that tenuous hold of safety and of substance, left me a feeling of anticipation mixed with dread, of confidence restrained by caution, of courage salted through with fear.
How tightly should one hold onto life? How loosely give it rein? What gain was there for such a risk? I would have to pay in money for hurling my body into space. There would be no crowd to watch and applaud my landing. Nor was there any scientific objective to be gained. No, there was deeper reason for wanting to jump, a desire I could not explain. It was that quality that led me into aviation in the first place — it was a love of the air and sky and flying, the lure of adventure, the appreciation of beauty. It lay beyond the descriptive words of man — where immortality is touched through danger, where life meets death on equal plane; where man is more than man, and existence both supreme and valueless at the same instant."
 The Spirit of St Louis, Charles Lindbergh, 1953
He had one bad landing and shattered his leg. Apparently paramedics have no sympathy for people who injury themselves jumping out of a plane. He did jump for a few years after recovering from that. His roommate screwed up a landing and punctured his lung when he slammed into a stop sign (ironic, right?).
My friend stopped jumping. He has two kids now, and he said that was part of it. He was worried a bit about getting pulled into that culture for the rest of his life, but he knew older sky divers who didn't party all the time and do insane amounts of cocaine (I hung out with some of his sky diving buddies and dear god, do they love their cocaine).
But he had a few other friends die in jumps, and he started contemplating who he was and why he dived. He's now a band director at a community college. Now that he has his own program, his kids, his wife, he just realized it wasn't for him any more.
Cheapest therapy ever, ~$200. Everything in life gets the reset button. Just so happy to be ALIVE. I kissed the ground on my return, haha.
A friend asked how long it lasts, personally was about two months, but there are still residual effects years later.
As to the article:
I found my cure with skydiving, the complete and utter helplessness and giving in to the powers that be made me loose my depressing desire to (believe that I can) exercise control over everything, which would never really work, which would make me feel inadequate, which fueled my depression, which let to less power to control, which... you get the idea.
While skydiving I know I've given up control (on a controlled moment) and that helps me deal with other moments where I observe that same loss.
As to your comment:
Since I have kids, I do not feel I can risk my own live as much since they somewhat depend on me and I owe them my presence. Thus I stopped doing it regularly (once a month) and now only do it when I need it (once a every year up to once every 5 years). That's "how long it lasts" for me.
But getting back in the saddle last year after a long hiatus and using it as my primary means of transport has done wonders for my state of mind. (And my wallet for that matter, which relieves stress, which then comes around to state of mind again.)
I've got more than enough storage to go grocery shopping, I've got music through my helmet (Sena doesn't have much competition, but I don't have many complaints) and I've got nice warm clothes so cold is not an issue.
I do miss it on days when there's snow on the ground or low visibility, but around here that doesn't last more than a few days, a week at most.
Sometimes I use the bike that way on purpose, not to go anywhere but simply to improve my mood. A quick run out east on the highway, up to the mountains and back, will usually knock me out of whatever loop I've got stuck in. I think it has something to do with the way that you have to stay present, immersed in the moment, aware of everything going on around you; there's still some room in the brain for higher-level thought, but you have a base of calm presence to work from.
When I was getting my license, I asked another pilot how much money it would take.... "All of it."
Though probably less scary than skydiving, it is still considerably scarier than most things people ever encounter in everyday life. And you can't quietly shy away from it, either, the way you often can from social situations or intimidating opportunities or novelty in real life; you're standing there on the platform, everyone is watching and cheering you on; and success is binary-- either you jump, or you are shamefully lowered back down to the ground (which is still probably not much less scary anyway).
I didn't think of that experience of being very important, but it occurred to me recently that many people have never had that experience-- of being very scared, but pushing through it. It resets your baseline for fear, and it shows you what you are capable of. It is, I think, important training for the skill of managing any strong emotion, but particularly fear.
It is a kind of experience I think everyone should have in their life, ideally early on.
Not sure I'd trust a parachute without proper testing.
It often feels like falling out of a plane.
Although when skydiving even when everything goes perfect you still hit ground at pretty high speeds. It must be hard for spine and joints and probably can also cause some daily problems especially at later age.
No, that's not right. If you can land well, it's certainly no harsher to your body than jumping off a step. If the wind is light then you might have to run a bit. That's all.
Source: I have made hundreds of parachute landings like this.
You might be thinking of round parachutes, which today are not used by sport skydivers.
Skydiving - 1/150000 per jump.
At least according to:
I think the only cure for depression is death. Too morbid?
You manage depression with behavior and therapy. You can attempt to treat some of the symptoms with drugs. You can break out of a rut by trying new things. But curing depression... like once and for all? That's not realistic.
"Sky diving helped me get out of a depressive episode," or "Skydiving helped me stave off having depressive episodes..." would be more accurate.
Lately I've been trying to see it from a different direction: What am I really looking for when I harbor suicidal thoughts? Escape, and more specifically: Freedom.
It's not that I WANT to die; on the contrary, I want to live forever! There's too many things I want to do and see. I want to get off this planet and learn what's beyond. But I can't, and in the back of my mind I feel there's no point to anything. I like to create but nothing lasts forever. So I'd be content with just being able to explore and discover as much as I can, as long as I can.
Skydiving definitely gives a sense of freedom, as well as some degree of control – I could choose to throw away my parachute and splat on the ground – but I suppose the rush of physical sensations might make one feel alive enough at the moment to not want to die just then..
There is a nice book, "Listening to prozac", written by a psychiatrist who originally believed everything can be cured by therapy, but finally admitted that some people need to stay on anti-depressants for the whole life, since the source of their depression is neurologic.
If the sense of depression doesn’t cloud over a life anymore, they both amount to the same thing.
There’s nothing trivializing about that. It’s just an individual’s story of coping, recovery, and hope.
Over time, the high changes -- from a feeling of "holy shit I'm alive!" to a much more sublime appreciation of the sensation of freedom while in freefall. You're not just dropping like a stone: every surface of your body becomes an aerodynamic control surface, and you feel like you can do anything (except, er, go up). That feeling of freedom never seems to diminish.
I've made two attempts on my own life in the past decade and I'm incredibly grateful that I didn't get the realistic 'cure' I was looking for in those brief moments; in fact it could barely be considered a cure at all, especially if you believe in things such as karma and reincarnation (and this is true for many folk).
Acceptance gives you the opportunity to enjoy your life while still being aware that there are times and situations where you really struggle and you've got to take care of yourself through them. You can take various steps to pull yourself out of the rabbit hole, even if only for a while, and get a better understanding of how you can manage your triggers or become more resilient to them. It might be a lifelong struggle, or you become resilient enough that you can deal with the dark moments really well or even sidestep them entirely by noticing certain feelings coming up. This means you still feel like a human being with a full spectrum of emotions without having them medicated or repressed out of existence.
The key thing in stories like these is that often the person suffering the depression (or similar mental illness) is motivated to do something they would never have thought of before (or been too afraid of). It's not really staving anything off because if you reframe it, what you're seeing are these creative, beautiful and inspired acts to embrace life like they never did before. Travelling, skydiving, adventure, art, music, going to the cinema alone, meditating, volunteering...
These remedies are otherwise known as 'being alive' and they're an incredible reaction to the often temporary desire to shuffle off the mortal coil. And what's better is that you can very easily enrich the lives of others as well as your own in the process, no matter what darkness is lurking deep inside you. If, with your depression or your mental trauma, you manage to live a full life anyway, then wasn't that as good as a cure, if not better? It's even better than managing it.
This is just how it feels for me anyway; I've been dealing with complex PTSD for a long time and, in the most twisted way, I can say that my life became far more enriched through my efforts to work through that. In that sense I think seeing death as the only cure is an insane trivialization of the matter.
That window is incredibly important.
When you release the root cause of this stuff it often resolves for life.
One way of describing it is this folks aren't in a contracted or defended state due to the current context of their lives.
Psychedelics (used responsibly) can help to face the emotions (and past experiences) that the psyche has been holding back and supressing (thus depression).
There are numerous access points to shift these patterns, but psychedelics and non-ordinary states work (like Breathwork) have proven to be very effective in my life and in the lives of many I know and work with.