Backpacking with Anxiety and Depression

I went backpacking for the first time this weekend, and I’m not quite sure how it went. Part of me is proud I did it. There were so many bugs, and we hiked 21 miles in two days. I’m impressed with myself. I got irritated once when lunch was awful, and I was exhausted, but five minutes later I was fine. Other than that, I was great. I had fun. Anxiety and depression stayed level for the most part. Even though it stayed low- it did not mean it wasn’t lurking in my mind this entire weekend.

Here’s the thing, I’m not a big chef. Cooking does not relax me, and I do not enjoy it. Cooking outdoors is no different. Plus it’s harder because of the different stoves and bugs trying to suck all your blood while you are trying to cook. Then there are the dishes. Trying to know what water I can or cannot use. How clean is clean? Where do I dump water? Am I doing this right? So – I avoid it. If I think too much about cooking and cleaning – I stress out. This sounds like such a “cop out, ” and I get it, but it’s hard for me to get up the willpower to do it. I get scared that I’m going to mess it up, so I do not even want to try. I helped with the tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and hanging our food, but not with cooking. So I failed to help him and failed to communicate why. I did not help not because I was lazy or thought he should do it all. I didn’t help because I felt paralyzed and was scared to. I played it off – but it didn’t change the fact that my anxiety was behind this.

Let me back this up with explaining why this bothers me so much. As always, it comes back to believing I’m not enough and comparing myself. I wish I wouldn’t do this, but here I am. I’m not as good as those “backpacking girls” or the other girls he camps with. I’m a failure. I’m not worth it. I suck. I should have done better. All the other girls would help or do it themselves. He will leave now.

image1 (23)But I still did it. I survived this weekend. I was able to be surrounded by eight other people and be okay with it. I was able to not jump down my boyfriend’s throat about something small. I didn’t complain about the bugs or how tired my legs were. I just pushed through. Yeah, my anxiety and depression showed up at times. That lunch where I was incredibly irritable. Or when I couldn’t bear to help with cooking or cleaning. The first night I almost had an anxiety attack due to intrusive thoughts – but I handled it. Or the negative thoughts that ran through my mind that I was able to push aside. All these are pieces of the trip. Anxiety and depression will continue to be a piece of me. It did not ruin the journey. I did not cry. I did not run away. I had fun and did it.

I was nervous for this weekend. I was scared what my anxiety and depression would do. This just goes to show, that yeah maybe anxiety and depression will always be a piece of my life and lurking around in my mind, but it doesn’t have to control me, and I can still have a fantastic adventure trying something new.

My point is do not let your anxiety or depression, or whatever is, stop you from doing what you dream of. Take your time, but you can get there. You can have an amazing adventure and enjoy yourself. You can move past your fears and anxieties and not have it control you. It took me a while to get there. I remember before other trips like this I would have anxiety attacks just thinking about it, but not this time. It’s a learning process. You figure out your triggers and your fears. You learn. You have patience. You do your best. You know your limits. You move forward.

5 thoughts on “Backpacking with Anxiety and Depression”

  1. Slyvia, I’m thrilled you were able to get away on a weekend backpacking trip. I have to say that hiking, backpacking, being out in nature, that’s my therapy of choice. I didn’t start out that way. The gear was confusing, I was out of shape, there were bugs. I was anxious about so many things. But after awhile (usually a week for me), the anxiety and depression that normally haunts me faded into the periphery.
    Sounds like it was an adventure for you Sylvia, and that you enjoyed the majority of it. But most importantly, congratulations! You peopled AND played out in the woods!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gabe! Thank you so much for your comment – sorry it took me so long to respond. I have yet to backpack longer than two nights. I’m also so glad I had close friends who knew what they were doing also thank GOD for bug nets. So proud of myself for getting through that weekend and looking forward to more – maybe eventually a week!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was such a wonderful read thank you so much for sharing! I really relate to every single thing you said. It’s so frustrating to feel anxious and depressed when out in nature. Im glad that you weren’t too hard on yourself and still had a wonderful time! Definitely following your journey! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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