I woke up this morning feeling really down for some reason. I didn’t exactly get a solid night sleep and when I did get up I was restless and irritable. All I could hear was the trying sound of a happy young couple laughing about something I didn’t care about and deciding what time they should make bacon sandwiches in the morning. I decided to pitch in an actual campsite last night to help ease my transition from couch potato to returning nomad, but i realised this morning that as much as I wanted that it turned out I hadn’t the strength to deal with happy campers first thing. Nor did I want to do my morning business in a cubicle that had blatantly already been visited (and destroyed) by a builder (probably) who, along with the eye watering stench of his mid-morning dump, had left his copy of the sun and a can of glade on top of the system. I trudged back to my tent after a highly unsatisfactory poo and decided that I should probably pack up and leave immediately.
“We just realised we saw you on the telly!”
One half of the happy bacon couple had recognised me and decided to say hello. She approached my tent and flashed me a friendly smile before inviting me over to their tent. Before I knew it I was sat in a chair, engaged in conversation with her and her partner, George, discussing hitch hiking and how great it was to be outdoors and drinking black coffee and eating bacon sandwiches and it was all just really fucking lovely. All of sudden, everything was alright; I was excited to be there and eager to start the day. I finished my sandwich (which was excellent), took one last look at my map and packed my tent away. When I left I thought about my mood, and tried to clear a few things up.
I think last night when I heard Kat & George (which are their names) talking, and this morning as well actually, their natural free-flowing conversation made me think “I can’t do that”. I think that a lot, and it always sort of bums me out until I join the conversation, then I realise I can do that and it’s absolutely fine. I don’t know why but my instinct is to retreat from interactions, even though I generally enjoy them. There’s still a residual feeling of worthlessness I can’t seem to shake: it’s stickiness is impossible to scrape away entirely and makes me feel shit about things I feel like I can’t do, but actually can. The wonders of depression hard at work.
I know I should probably be talking about all the amazing hills and streams and bridleways that I smashed today but actually, it feels more right to talk about what went through my head this morning. The good thing about walking in the countryside is that you’re forced to address certain thoughts and, generally, if I think about them for long enough i can begin to make sense of them. I walked 13 miles along the Pennine Way today and for the most part, I thought clearly. I managed to work out why I felt like I did this morning and forgave myself for feeling like shit by the time I reached my first sheep. The rest of the day was great.
As great as walking, running, whatever, is for your mental health it’s unlikely to sort out your problems entirely. What it can do, I’ve noticed, is give you time to process certain things in an environment that’s free of synthetic distraction. The realisation that I might never be fully okay was a welcome one this morning because it was paired with another realisation that; as with good feelings, bad feelings also pass. There’s nothing I can do about it, so why stress. I also realised that streams are the perfect place to strip off and have a full naked body wash if you’re alone(ish) in a quiet(ish) area and have soap, but that’s another story.
Ultimately, I had a great first day back. The Peak District is exquisite and I can’t wait to push on and see more of it tomorrow.
Lastly, songs that entered my head for no apparent reason today include (but were not limited to):
The Wrote & The Writ by Johnny Flynn
The World Is Our _ by This Will Destroy You
All That She Wants by Ace Of Base