The Art Of Getting Over It (TAOGOI) is all about working to get over the mountains in our minds, I just happen to do that best when hiking on literal mountain sides. I suffer from PTSD from various traumas I’ve lived through. The pen name Taogoi comes from when I was trying to tell my grandmother more about what I've gone through. My family had known I had been sexually assaulted at 15, but I had never told them about the abuse that came afterwards. When I tried to approach the subject of trauma she told me, "You really should get over that by now. It's getting late, you should go." That was the last time I ever saw her.
After she passed, I couldn’t hold down a job and fell into a deep depression. My husband at the time encouraged me to finally hike and I took that leap of faith. I found long distance hiking to be extremely meditative. It allows me to have as much space as needed to go through the maze of my mind. The fresh air sharpens the mind and the repetition of each day helps create a sense of calm and purpose. Wake up, bathroom time, wash, coffee and something to eat when finally packed up.
And then, the great daily walk begins. With everything I need, plus some extra comforts, for a few days. At first, it took me a while to get packed up and get everything figured out inside the backpack. Slowly, I got better as I figured out my gear and how to Tetris it. I got better and better the longer I stayed on trail. It was that type of consistency helped my confidence go up. I started to drop weight by figuring out what I didn’t use and leaving it in a hiker box when there was one at a resupply point (a place to buy groceries and shower, like a small town). It’s definitely a process to figure out which items need to be upgraded or just plain let go of.
The further I went, the lighter I felt emotionally, as well. The hard work of walking everywhere on foot, day in and day out, and to be rewarded along the way with incredible views gave me inspiration to write and explore the deep valleys I’ve neglected in my mind. It gave me strength to know that I earned those views and I was getting physically stronger the more I hiked. I was no longer afraid that the thoughts and feelings I had to process were not going to stop me from doing what I fell in love with.
There is something about being surrounded by nature and being able to isolate that really helps me to find peace. Nature doesn’t try to hide the harshness of life. It has the ability to show how intense trauma can be beautiful and breath-taking. The water erodes landscapes and shows its destruction, but is also used to put out wildfires. There is a cycle to everything, and everything has the power to inspire and end lives. There is so much to learn if you give yourself enough time out there. In our lives, where every city tree has been planned out and everything else is an advertisement, it’s healing to just be with the wild.
I’m definitely not the first one to realize how much hiking and nature helps improve mental health. I want to inspire people who feel like they can’t function because of everything they have gone through, to go out and push themselves in ways they never thought they could. I had no experience in the outdoors, I did a week long girls camp when I was 12 and that is definitely not the same type of experience at all. If you want to heal in nature and you don’t know how much time you need, I recommend looking up hikeformentalhealth.org and seeing about going on your own journey for a more confident you.