I know. I dropped off the edge of the blog planet. I was completely unprepared for the letdown of the journey’s end, combined with another major depressive episode, and it almost ended me. So I surrendered. I let go and got help.
In the past six months I’ve learned much about myself. I have regained compassion, empathy, forgiveness, and equanimity. It feels good – good enough to find out if this stability I feel will continue as I experience new adventures. I’m armed with the knowledge that the feelings that come with the ending of great adventures are natural and that I have developed skills helpful in living through them.
The first spin I am taking these new coping skills out on is an 80-hour course to recertify my Wilderness First Responder license. The license lasts for three years and mine expires next month. When I first started thinking of signing up for the recert, I thought “it would be cool to do the course somewhere I haven’t been before. I could see new wildlife, explore new worlds, seek out new life, new civ… errr…” You get the idea.
A few autumns ago, I had the opportunity to drive through the North Cascades. It was a short car trip, but I’d gotten enough of a taste that I knew I would be back. I was stoked to find a WFR course offered at a non-profit learning center right inside the national park, called the North Cascades Institute. The course is a hybrid, with the first 40 hours done at home, online, at your own pace. The second 40 hours are at the learning center in the national park next to Diablo Lake and towering white-capped mountains.
Yesterday, I left Gaston and Uncle Sidney at the farm and drove the six hours to the park. Today was the first day of class. My anxiety level compared to the past two courses: maybe 20%, maybe even less. I even had the time for a short 40-minute run after class before it got totally dark. Well, the last 10 minutes were in the dark, but I didn’t really mind.
What I’m feeling now is gratitude. I’m thankful for the humans who have continued to love, support, and help me navigate through the thick of it, and thankful I kept going even though I wanted nothing more than to stop.
If tonight were six months ago, I would have been anxiously dreading and then the next day dutifully going through the motions of assessing medical emergencies, practicing splints, CPR, reducing dislocated extremities, cleaning and dressing wounds, and so on. I’m grateful that tonight is now. I’m into this. I’m looking forward to all of that now. It holds my interest. The next four days I get to hone my medical skills and prepare myself to be able to help people, and at the same time be outside, in the forest, in the mountains, by the lake, with the wildlife. Yes, I’ve got this.