How Hiking Helped Me Face My Depression
By Joslynn Romero, Girls Who Hike New Mexico Ambassador
I grew up in a small town in northern New Mexico surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. My parents enjoyed the outdoors camping and fishing were regular activities for our small family. I loved being outside in the dirt I was your typical “tomboy” girl. After my parents split up when I was 7, I moved in with my maternal grandparents. My grandmother was sick and I took over helping around the house, being outside didn’t happen much anymore.
When I was 11 years old I started to have negative thoughts about myself. These thoughts were self destructive and often self limiting. I was walking around constantly thinking and telling myself I wasn’t good enough. I started self mutilating around the same time- it gave me a sense of control when I thought that I had none. When I was 19 one of my best friends passed away in a hunting accident and 6 months later my maternal grandmother passed away. These negative feelings were multiplied exponentially and almost a year to day of my grandmothers passing I overdosed and was admitted to the intensive care unit. I left the hospital against doctor’s orders and was back in class on Monday morning like nothing had even happened.
I always felt ashamed of my actions and would still continue belittling myself because of this. In 2017, I got accepted to nursing school and underwent some major life changes I moved from Southern New Mexico back to the North and began this very demanding program. At this time I was suffering from major anxiety resulting from the uncertainty of the choice I had just made. In November of 2017 I planned a trip to Page, Arizona with a friend to see Horseshoe Bend, Glenn Canyon, and Antelope Canyon. During this trip I had just spent most of October crying and not getting out much. I remember sitting in front of Horseshoe Bend and just feeling this overwhelming feeling of wholeness, I had never anticipated that something making me feel so small would start my healing process. I hiked to Spencer Lookout in Lee’s Ferry, Arizona and for the first time in a very long time I felt alive. Being in the quiet open space allowed me to hear my inner voice for what it really is, STRONG.
When I returned to school I started meeting with a therapist once a week and began to really work on myself and all these negative thoughts. Mental health in today’s society has lost some of its stigma but it is nothing to feel ashamed of. People just feel things differently and that is what makes each human experience worth hearing. I have done multiple hikes since November and every time I step foot on a new trail I feel like I am rejuvenating myself in some way. Becoming a member of this group has only furthered my ability to heal, and I am thankful for this opportunity I have been given. The National Suicide Crisis Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255, this number is available 24 hours a day. I just want people in the trenches of depression to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel as cliché as that may sound.