Mental Health and The Outdoors

Mental Health and The Outdoors

I'm depressed. 

It feels weird to say that, and definitely to write it to strangers and the multitudes of people that will read it, most of whom I'll never know. The truth is, I don't like to share when I'm struggling. 

I've been doing the things that normally help me. You don't go to counseling for as long as I have and not have a pretty hefty tool bag, stocked with all the tools you need for getting out of a funk. But, here's the thing, this time, the tool bag isn't big enough and it isn't working quick enough. I've been in this space for 3 months and have made little to no progress. 

I've done the things. Drinking tons of water. Getting outside. Running. Being active. Trying to enjoy my hobbies. Reading. Eating clean. Indulging. Getting good sleep. Sleeping in. Getting up early. Breathing exercises. Meeting with a friend. Watching a comfort movie or show. Getting away. Staying put. 

I've done it. 

And I'm stuck. 

Our community, the outdoor community, likes to talk about mental health. In fact, I would venture to say we speak more openly about mental health in our community than most. But we share about it after the fact. We love to say, "Wow, last month was tough, but I'm feeling more myself now." Or, "I have really been through it, but this is how I made it out."

We like to talk about how the outdoors healed us. How the fresh air and the green grass helped us ground ourselves. We love to tell of our toes in the sand, the waves crashing and the sun in our face. And those experiences are important. 

But, we don't like to talk about our struggling mental health in the present. We don't want to share when nature doesn't heal us and we spend time outside only to come back in and lay on the couch, sweaty, exhausted and no better than we were when we stepped foot out the door. We feel like we've got to have it together before we share the struggle, but here's the thing, that's part of the stigmatization of mental health. We wait until we're "cured" or "better" but part of destigmatization of mental health is sharing in the here and now. As cliche as it sounds letting people know, "I'm not okay. And that's okay." 

When people get out of their struggles we call them brave and talk about their grit. 

But I say, going to therapy. Getting the medicine. Sharing with a loved one. 

That's bravery. That's grit. 

To look someone else in the face and be vulnerable enough to share the inner pain. That's pretty freakin' remarkable if you ask me. 

Share when it's painful. Go back to therapy. Get the meds. Do what you have to do to bring yourself back and don't you dare feel like your pain has to be secret. Your people need you here and they want to know when you're not okay. Share your struggle.


You're too important not to.