Continuing on with featuring amazing women I know, this is Rin. We went to the same school, her mum was my favourite teacher, a strong woman that raised an equally strong daughter. I’ve always admired Rin’s tenacity and her multi-day trekking adventures. I asked her to write about her experiences, and if you’d like to know more about some multi-day hikes, check out these links, as recommended by Rin; Auswalk, Great Walks of Australia. If you are suffering from depression, believe you may be, or know someone who is, or may be, check out these great resources, Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute, and Lifeline.
I am incredibly honoured that Eliza has asked me to contribute as a guest blogger. We were both daughters of teachers in a small country town and as kids grew up on farms and worked just as hard at school as we did at home. And now our paths have crossed again. I was incredibly inspired to watch her journey from 12 runs in 12 months to placing 5th at the Wylde Classic on the weekend, she is one of my motivators. And this is my little contribution to her brilliant blog. Single. 34yrs old. High school Head teacher. Farmers daughter. Teachers daughter. Amazing Aunty. Great friend. World traveller. Overweight. Bush walker. Cat lady. Sufferer of depression. Crochet queen.
“I though it was normal to get a bit emotional”
I am all of those things. But of all of those things, in no particular order I would think the thing that has changed how I live my life now is living as a sufferer of depression. Like with life there are highs and lows, and with depression the wave can be much higher, and much deeper. I was told this in about 2010. Having always been a kid who sought my own fun, I though it was normal to get a bit emotional, or down but apparently the blues at that time in my life overwhelmed me. I had to find a way, and for me medication was not the answer. I knew I loved walking and one night I was with my mum at a View Club meeting in our small country town and two incredible inspirational women spoke about their journey of walking. They were local women. Sharing their journey of their walk across England on the Coast to Coast walk. I was inspired and thought if these women can do it, so can I. I walked once before in Germany. I was much younger, but no fitter, and I nearly died doing it. I was an exchange student at the time and I’m pretty sure my host family would still talk about it to this day. But we made it. Together. And I think that is the message here. What a crazy thought. I wasn’t talking about a small 5 km or a day walk, these were long week walks in solitary environments away from people. But it happened. These walks have happened all across Australia and there are plenty more to do, but the most powerful thing was getting others behind me, either in spirit, or in person and people came together.
“We had battled through and accomplished a fight alongside nature and the feeling was something I just wanted more of.”
My first walk was in Western Australia- the Cape to Cape track. 149km of track through the Margaret River region. My best friend came along and our love for walking was forged. Each day was a challenge. Our very first day the most- I usually always have a melt down on the first day saying how silly the idea is and I should never have started. I ran out of water, I drank my friends water, we suffered through shin high sand on an 8km beach, and we still hadn’t finished the walk. But when we sat down at the end of the day, we had made it. Together. We had battled through and accomplished a fight alongside nature and the feeling was something I just wanted more of. More than the walking itself was the scenery I’ve experienced. I’ve walked the Cape to Cape, I’ve done the Great Ocean Road (98km), I’ve done the Blue Mountains Traverse (76km) and the last walk was the Mornington Peninsular Walk (82km). And there are more in the pipeline. A few friends and I have locked in that Coast to Coast walk in England for my 40th birthday. So there is still something to work (or walk) towards.
“the sense of achievement was far greater than any mood that could get me down”
Best day I’ve ever had on track, and admittedly the most challenging, was on the Great Ocean Road walk ending the day on Johanna Beach. The weather is always to be watched on a walking week and we had some ideas what we might have been in for . But not all of it. As we set out a torrential down pour occurred. We all had the the opportunity to turn back. But I chose to push on. That day we only did 17km on track, a relatively short day on an endurance hike. but it was the most rewarding of all battling thunderstorms and lightening and ending our days walk with a blistering sand storm on the 2km beach. I could hear Lawrence Of Arabia playing in my head. I came away from that day having battled something bigger than myself. Greater than my own doubt. And more forceful than the person who lives in my head. Nature is immense, and it has my eternal respect. My body was sore, I lost a toenail because of that day in waterlogged walking boots, but the sense of achievement was far greater than any mood that could get me down, or the itch of a regrowing nail. So in all of this my battle isn’t my weight, which I’m pretty sure most people would look at me and say it were. It really is the depression. Planning a walk, knowing the struggles ahead, conquering those first day demons and having all the support in the world is the most positive thing I could hope for. People have sponsored me for the walking, allowing me to contribute this to Beyond Blue, people have been on practice walks, called me for pep talks and the hits of “like” of the Facebook page is always a nice feeling. There’s no nicer people than walkers I’ve heard many a time. It might just be true.
“I’m not meant to be able to walk 149km in 8 days, but it happened.”
As a walker I come to know that there is something bigger than us all, that makes us feel small, and it’s the ultimate in getting out there and having a go. I’m not meant to be able to walk 149km in 8 days, but it happened. I’m not built to climb up mountains or scale muddy downhill paths, but I do it. And it’s amazing. I get it done knowing that I have the support of friends and family and that there are bad days, and there are great days. but at the end of the walk I will feel an amazing sense of accomplishment and be able to wonder and marvel at nature. It’s an amazing feeling and if I can do it, you can too!