The AT and the Trek helped save my life
*TRIGGER WARNING: THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE*
I’m coming back from a very strange weekend. I won’t be elaborating much on the details as they pertain to my personal life but I will be sharing this story as it relates to the AT. I’d like to include a trigger warning as this post does discuss thoughts of suicide and a brief stay in a hospitol. If these things trigger bad memories for you, I’d ask to not read what is discussed in this blog post. My hope is this post can raise awareness for suicide prevention, both on-trail, in the hiking community, and anyone who I can help.
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
Substance Abuse Hotline: 1-800-662-4357
If you feel as though you or someone you know is in danger, please call 911.
To pair it down in the simplest way, I traveled to metro-detroit to say goodbye to some friends before I left to hike the Appalachian Trail. I was having a massive fit of culture shock. I got to see a glaring HD vision of how some (not all mind you) college students live their lives. It was appalling to say the least. I was taught a lot of valuable lessons but the main one was this:
College was not the right path for me out of high school
I needed to find myself first before going to college.
During the past six months I’ve learned my values and started to have a better relationship to my highest self. Some people call also call that a relationship to God. You may call it a relationship with the Universe. It could be possibly called a relationship to the Earth. Allah. Whatever you call it. It’s all the Same Thing, Different Font. We are not what divides us, we are what unites us. We are all not so different as we all think we are. Regardless, I knew that the college path would have taken me father from my highest self. How did I know this?
I suffered a mental-health crisis
Part of the experience that I had while I was in Detroit involved me being brought to a dark place. I place I’ve known before and I know other people have also been far too often. I wanted to end my life. In a manic state in a hotel parking lot after attending a frat party, I called 911. The operator calmed me down and officers came to my location and I was taken to the hospital. I knew I needed time to rest and write. That’s exactly was I did: I wrote.
Why did I write?
I knew myself. I knew what brought me joy and happiness before all of this happened. What was that? It was my closest friends, my chosen family. It was the love they surrounded me with. It was my biological family back home knowing they loved and supported me. It was Writing for the Trek. My plan to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. I spent 36 hours in this room. I made a makeshift desk out of my toilet chair and my table thst they had provided me at. I wanted to write and the hospital staff gave me paper to write. Markers to write. I wrote. I journaled ab0ut what happened. That’s what I had to do to get myself out of this dark place I found myself in. Guess what?
I’m here. I’m alive. I am writing. This is thanks to all of my friends who love and care about me, the good vibrations and prayers they were sending me subconsciously. It was thanks to the actions of Oakland County first responders and the staff at Troy Beaumont hospital. I felt loved. I felt secure. I am loved. I am secure. I knew I had a purpose and that’s what kept me going. Writing for Trek and hiking the Appalachian Trail is what gave me purpose in my life again. That being said, I’d like to share with you guys something I wrote in the Troy Beaumont hospital. I hope it resonates and helps someone struggling to understand the importance of maintaining good mental health, both on-trail and off the trail. Remember, no matter where you are someone is out there who cares. I care. I value you, the person reading this. This is what I wrote in my darkest hours.
“The artist Lorde once said, “Everybody wants the best for you, but you have to want it for yourself.” I always understood that phrase, but I never truly understood it until now. That’s the thing about mental health care. The mind. You are truly alone in one’s own mind. You are inside your mind all the time. Some people see their mind as a prison, as a torture chamber from which you cannot escape. They are right in that you cannot escape, but they are wrong about it being a torture chamber.
You can change it. The mind is a temple. It is a house. It is a home. If you do your housekeeping, maintenance, and sometimes give it a fresh coat of paint, it will be a great place to live in. Now, sometimes we have fires, accidents, or other things happen in our houses. When that happens, that’s why we have insurance, that way we can repair the houses when they get damaged.
If you don’t have insurance, you still live in a house with damage. You get uncomfortable. The rain gets in; the snow gets in; the birds get in. It can get unbearable, so you may try to get out. That’s the thing though, you can’t.
All we can do is reset and rebuild. Guess what! It’s your house. You can build it however you want to! It can be a massive mansion or a simple little cottage.
Some of us are very good homebuilders by ourselves. Sometimes those accidents happen, but you know how your house is built. You know how to build the walls, where to put the decorations. You know how to put your home back together.
Often though, people are not very good at building homes. It’s pretty hard. There’s a lot that goes into it. They may use other things to build their homes. Things like straw, cardboard, or maybe will try to jerry-rig parts of their home. It makes their house ‘angry’, ‘fearful’, ‘confused’, ‘frustrated’.
No matter what home we live in, we all live on a street. Some streets and neighborhoods have different people living in them. Becauses all of our homes are different, some people may need help rebuilding their homes. Some more than others. My way of rebuilding will be different than other people’s ways. That is fine. We all build our homes differently. Like me, we all need a safe space to rebuild our homes. For me, the AT is like a homeless shelter. A street that is full of shelters. Sometimes people bring their own, some people lay on the ground, some people lay in the pre-built ones. Sometimes we need shelters. From the rain. The snow. The birds. The wind.
We are all Homeward Bound in our own way.”
I’ll leave you guys with a song that’s helped me through many dark times in my life.
I hope it can help you guys, too.
12 days until Springer.
“you’ll get better soon
‘Cause you have to.”
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