There have been so many different events in my life that have made me who I am today. My struggle began in my 9th grade year and took until my senior year in high school to figure out how to overcome my problem. The summer before my senior year I was sent to Minnesota to live in the woods, in solitude from the world around me. I spent thirty-two days hiking the Superior Hiking Trail, working on understanding myself and working on overcoming my challenges and problems.
While I was at wilderness, I discovered I was suffering from depression.
Depression is defined as "a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason (Dictionary.com)." What I was experiencing was a constant state of sadness, my entire junior year of high school I had to live it with it everyday. I didn't go to classes, interact with other people, I was always sleeping because I was so sad. I didn't know why, what it was from or how it started-- it just happened. Some days I felt fine but in general I was always sad. Other people who I have talked to and told my story to don't really understand how depression can impact someone mentally and physically. It feels like you're constantly drained of all feelings and emotions. You feel empty, alone and in my case I didn't tell anyone about my feelings because I didn't realize it was a problem. I wasn't even aware I was depressed until I went to wilderness.
The wilderness program I was sent on was Soltreks. Unlike other wilderness programs that are based heavily on the physical part, Soltreks was different; the basis of the program was therapeutic. During those thirty-two days I went through probably the most painful part of my life. Everyday I suffered, I suffered because I was trying to understand who I was and I didn't want to face the truth. My entire life I have been running away from the truth--the truth about myself. I realized I didn't understand who I was, and I spent this time learning about who I truly was and how to overcome my problems.
After leaving Soltreks I was given a prescription for an anti-depressant. Taking this medicine as well as finally learning about me changed my life. With this new knowledge of myself and the help of the pills my life began to change. I was no longer sad; I no longer wanted to be alone. I finally began living my life without that constant state of sadness. This past summer was some of the best days of my life and it only continues to improve.
Sadly I can't tell you I am completely okay, because I am not. There are still days where my past comes back to haunt me and I feel sad. The point I am trying to make is that I was able to help myself just by taking some time to understand who I was, understand my feelings and emotions. Depression can be beat--it just takes time, the correct mental thinking and the will power to overcome it.
This essay was written by a former student of Soltreks as a College assignment. Permission to publish was granted by Lorri Hanna, Executive Director of Soltreks-MN, Two Harbors, MN. www.soltreks.com Phone: 218-834-4607