I’ve always loved camping – it’s something my family and I have enjoyed since I was only a few weeks old. My summers were spent amongst the trees, in the shade of the Rocky Mountains. I loved the feeling of running my hands through the dirt. I loved the shock of cold that my body felt when it met the mountain run-off water. I loved ending my days wrapped up in a blanket, in front of the fire, looking at the stars.
The mountains will always be where my heart lies.
Unfortunately, my relationship with the mountains grew distant when I developed TN. The serene, isolated environment that I cherished became a place that I could not thrive in. The unpredictability of my body required a controlled environment with a hospital nearby. Nature left me exposed and vulnerable to elements that could hurt me; a gust of wind or a drop of rain could send me to my knees in pain. Camping evolved from treasured solitude to a source of anxiety. At that point, because I had already lost so many of the things that I loved due to my illness, I had numbed myself from feeling any further loss.*
However, I know that this disease will likely be my forever. There comes a point when you need to decide what activities are worth the pain. Yes, I could spend my whole life inside my house where there’s a lesser chance of setting off pain, but what kind of life is that? I deserve joy and fulfillment just as much as the next person does and my illness does not change that. So, over this last year, I’ve been trying incredibly hard to get out of the house and live. After an outing, I can suffer for days (and even sometimes weeks) afterwards, but it is critical that I do it for my mental health.
So! I went camping! Of course, the anxiety was still there, but the experience was everything I dreamed it would be. The dirt, the water, the fire, the stars – I was able to experience everything I used to, be it modified sometimes. It took me a couple days, but I eventually found the balance between rest and play. I spent lots of time in the trailer and ended up completing 6, 300-500 piece puzzles and 2 books. I also spent lots of time outside, taking in the serenity of the wilderness. I kayaked, I hiked, I swam, and I even got a slight tan! I’m still incredibly vampirish, though, so keep your expectations low!
So while I didn’t get a break from pain on my holiday, it didn’t stop me from relaxing, making memories, and taking LOTS of pictures….. beginning now!
*I’ve been trying to write a blog post about mental health and my time spent in the psych ward, but it’s an incredibly emotional topic for me and it’s taking me a long time to work through it. All I can say is, physical pain will always be accompanied by mental pain and it is so, so important that you don’t neglect your mental health.
Love you guys ❤️
Editor: Lindsay Fortin