Here at Wilderlife, we’re collating Victoria’s diaries, photos and videos into a digest. Today’s post is a sidebar: a reflection from Victoria whilst working on Stanfield Hut.
Walking with her seven-year-old daughter Emilie, together they are raising funds for Federated Mountain Clubs and telling stories about the mental health benefits of time spent in the wild places of NZ, as well as the importance of protecting those areas for future generations to enjoy.
He was there when I woke this morning, my black dog.
I’d barely opened my eyes when I spotted him, curled up in the corner, watching me with his tail working a slow thump on the floorboards. I guess he’d been tracking me for days, nose to the ground, sniffing out my trail, and now he was here again. I should have known. The signs were there, the low mood, the tears building up behind my eyes, the restless thoughts all leading back to that dark place inside myself.
I just thought he would have given up following me all this way – the chopper ride at least should have shaken him off.
If I’d been home alone I might have just closed my eyes and rolled over in bed, but we were four days into a hut restoration project and I had shit to do.
Working down by the creek, cleaning moss and mold out of the lengths of guttering, the constant rumble of the water helped drown out the Dog’s growls. He gave up and went to curl up under a tree, the occasional flick of one ear the only sign he was still awake, watching and waiting in case I sneak off out of sight.
I was trying to remember the last time I laughed deep from my belly. The last time I felt overwhelmed with joy. That dog has been sucking it all out of me, hiding in the shadows of my sad and lonely soul. I’m reflecting on how sometimes I feel my mental illness is due to a lack of mental fortitude, which is unfair given you wouldn’t say a person with diabetes or high blood pressure could or should just think themselves better. I’m going to visit a doctor when I get back into society, to get some help to shake this dog off my tail.
Nature is healing – it’s 8:30 am and I’m sitting by a beautiful creek that’s been my happy place for the past few days, the guttering is clean and I’ll go find myself a new job in a moment. I’m not going to curl up and hide in my bed all day, weeping quietly into my pillow and wishing the world would swallow me whole.
But sometimes you need a bit of extra help to put the dog back in his place.
Victoria and Emilie are walking the Te Araroa over the 21/22 summer season. They are raising funds and telling stories about the mental health benefits of time spent in the wild places of NZ, as well as the importance of protecting those areas for future generations to enjoy. To see all their stories, visit wilderlife.nz/adventures_with_emilie/ and follow them @adventures_with_emilie on Instagram and Facebook.
90% of the funds raised are donated evenly between the Mental Health Foundation and the Federated Mountain Clubs of NZ Mountain & Forest Charitable Trust. 10% is going towards some of the expenses of walking the trail.
If you’d like to help them out, please donate via their give a little page.