Depression and Wilderness, Part 2: Wilderness May Not Be Enough

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Depression and Wilderness, Part 2: Wilderness May Not Be Enough

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    Travis Leanna
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wisconsin

    First off, I'm sorry for your loss of a good friend.

    I missed this article the first time around, and I've not read any of the other replies, so my apologies if I'm repeating anything. This reflection touches on one of the most important and influential aspects of anyone and everyone's life– the human ingredient.

    We strive to be self-sufficient, successful, eminent monoliths in a world of social and economic pressures that reflect only the preservation of image, greed, profit, and material worth. It's inescapable, and impossible to ignore, and we can focus our attention and energy on positive and worthwhile endeavors, but no matter how fast we run, there it is nipping at our heels.

    What keeps us sane? What keeps us smiling? Ironically, what does those things also creates the very abyss most of us are simply teetering upon each day. It is our fellow man. Our flesh and blood. Our kin. Our savior (we'll leave out the spiritual aspect for now, as it is too encompassing a topic to cover) is our tormentor. Humans.

    How do we balance this? We run away to the wilderness to escape, yet something is missing. We as humans were not built to be alone; rather, we were meant to coexist in harmony with each other and the wild world beyond our doorsteps. But we know better. We run away from human contact to 'escape' the darkness it brings…yet we need it. Shortly after shedding the depressive societal confines, we begin to mentally reach out to those that we love, and we want them to share our time.

    So there's our Catch-22. We run to the wilderness to escape, refresh, and cleanse, but often cannot fully do so without that which we run away from.

    I have this romantic idea of how wonderful it would be to (metaphorically) get lost in the mountains and spend time by myself absorbing all that nature had to give me. It's such a strong ideal that it doesn't go away, no matter how much logic I throw at it. And that logic is my acknowledgment and realization that when I'm by myself, I want those I love, namely my wife and good friends, to be there, sharing it with me. I NEED them to be there. So the sadness I seek to escape simply materializes in a different form.

    Is there an answer? Is there a way to lust for a wilderness escape and fully enjoy the fruits of such a separation? When it comes to the human ingredient, I am pessimistic. We as a society are a plague, and will be of our own destruction. But I don't lose hope. I have those I love, and those who love me. It is also the human ingredient.

    Indeed, it is a dichotomy no one can claim to fully understand, but only hope to balance.

    wayne R Clark
    BPL Member


    i'v had depression as a result of twenty years of getting over chronic fatigue. i was so cripled i could only walk a few minutes.
    i had to pay close attention to my diet. no processed food, only natural wholefood.
    and gradual return to exercise. too much exercise can exacerbate depression, its about finding the balance… i find its better for me not to exercise every day, i ease off the volume and intensity exercise weeks before a multi day trip and i feel better for it on the trip…

    BPL Member


    I join the chorus who are appreciative to Ryan for bringing light to the shadowy subjects of depression and suicide.  It needs to be talked about more openly.  The stigma makes people suffer in silence and exacerbates the problem.

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