Nature has always been able to bring me back to my center. Whenever I have felt anxious or unsure, I have gone outside. I never understood why I had such a calling for the outdoors or for the exploration of the unknown. Something about physically putting myself in a different environment has always lead to a strong sense of gratitude for my life- as if there is something more I am to do. To me, it was always as if Mother Nature herself was whispering in my ear to keep going, to keep fighting, and to keep "Chasing the Sun".
I suffer from a multitude of mental and physical health issues. Everything from depression, PTSD and anxiety, to my more physical ailments like Chiari Malformation 1 ("Chiari"), and Empty Sella Syndrome. All of these issues do affect my body daily but primarily my mind suffers the most. For those of you that do not know, "Chiari" affects a lot of my physical mobility- things like numbness, severe migraines, and light sensitivity. Empty Sella Syndrome effects my pituitary gland. In your brain, you have a sack where your pituitary glad should sit but in my case, I have sack filled with CSF(cerebral spinal fluid) which shows up as a whole in your head if you ever go to get an MRI. There is a cluster of cells that sit at the bottom of that sack and "act" like my pituitary gland. Meaning I naturally suffer from a hormonal imbalance. As I got older, I discovered that the imbalance is a cause for some of my other mental and emotional setbacks. I had a very invasive brain operation to help correct my "Chiari" when I was 17 because I was dying. It literally hurt to move or exert my body in any way. Sneezing, laughing, running, jumping, and it even hurt to poop! Any exertion! I would get severe pain in my head and it crushed me. I did not want to move, I did not want to be around people because laughing and smiling was too painful.
After all my surgeries (I also had 2 surgeries on my ovaries.) and trying to get the hang of my early twenties, I realized I was depressed and struggling to keep going. I started training hard, intermingling between CrossFit, powerlifting, yoga, and spin. I loved it all, my physical health blossomed and my confidence grew to new heights. I had never felt so beautiful but my mind...my mind is something I am constantly going to have to work on because of past trauma and because of my physical limitations.
Whenever I can change my environment I am able to change my emotions. I have to start by acknowledging myself fully and identify how I am feeling. I have to then truly accept that I am hurting. That in itself can be hard. Next, I have to figure the why or how I am hurting. Did someone else make me upset or is this a self-inflicted stressor? This is only the second part but it is always been one of the hardest for me because what if it is a self-inflicted stressor? Then that would mean that I did not make the best decision for myself or maybe I offended someone else. If someone else is the one causing the harm to me, I have to accept that for what it is. I have found that, usually, if I am so terribly upset by one direct person it is because it is probably someone close to me and that can be a hard pill to swallow. Because we all have choices, sometimes the ones closest to us do the most damage.
After I have acknowledged and accepted the feelings and their causes, I have developed a way of learning to let it go and I use my love for the outdoors to do so. I take a deep breath, I accept it, and then honestly lay it to rest. Not just put it in the back of my mind and not deal with it. I make peace with myself and the situation.
I step outside and I become mindful of my surroundings, I pay attention to all the sounds, smells, and what I see. I make a note that the world is huge and that everyone has issues of some kind and I am not alone in what I am feeling. I continue to deep breathe and I slow down. I let the wind or the current carry the heaviness away. I stay in nature, my safe place, until I know I can continue on. Because I use nature to help heal it has allowed me to have a new appreciation for our planet. We need to care for her because she cares for us.