New meaning to ‘being high’

Marc Schroeder camps out in the Kashmiri Himalayas during his pilgrimage
Picture: Supplied

Mountain trekking helps ex-East London man overcome addictions, depression

Trading in his luxurious home, sports car and R100 000-a-month salary in search of fulfillment and inner peace following substance addiction, an East London-born man turned author now spends four months of the year hiking through the Himalayas.

While Marc Schroeder, 39, may have had it all in his fastpaced, money-driven lifestyle, he gave it up after battling depression and a drug addiction for more than 10 years.

Schroeder – who was afforded a quality education, matriculating from Selborne College in 1996 and going on to obtain a BCom honours degree in economics from Rhodes University – details his hardships in his first novel, Sleeping with Dogs: A tale of madness.

The self-published book will be released next month and is dedicated to his three dogs he had to give up for adoption – which, he said, was the hardest thing he faced during his downward spiral.

“I have always been encouraged to play it safe throughout my life and it didn’t work out for me in the end,” Schroeder said.

“I landed a job in finance and made loads of money and ticked all the boxes for the suburban life, but I became heavily depressed.

“I felt like I let myself down somewhere along the line.

“Like a lot of young people, I experimented with drugs and [this] highlighted that my life was not good, and I hit depression.

“I struggled with this for a long time.

“Everything was looking good on the outside. I had a great house and a sports car, but inside I was really dark and it got worse, to the point that I thought I was going to die.”

Schroeder said the turning point in his life came about at his brother’s birthday party in Johannesburg, about two years ago, when the amount of alcohol and drugs he had become accustomed to, caught up with him.

“We were drinking shooters and this one neat shot of vodka had me coughing up blood,” he said.

“Something told me to go to India, because if I continued this lifestyle I was afraid I would not see my forties.”

He resigned from his job as a financial adviser shortly afterwards and four months later started a pilgrimage in India. There he met a tour guide and started up the Kashmir Trekking Company.

Following a passion of his, he decided to write the novel in the hope the book could inspire others to step out of their comfort zones and chase their happiness.

“The only thing I had to show for my life was the fat salary,” he said.

“I was earning more than R100 000 [a month] and I was 110kg.

“I started hating myself. I knew something had to change.

“I hope this book will have a positive outreach to people.

“I don’t want to be judged but I think, ultimately, it is a positive story,” he said.

“It has taken a long time to get to this point for the book to be released because I wanted to do it all myself.

“I finished the book last year in October and the editing process took the longest,” Schroeder said.

“But I hope to write more books and inspire more people.”

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