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Mental health/hillwalking

Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby 3peaker » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:18 am

My mental health suffered greatly after suffering a heart attack back in December 2017 - 2 days after celebrating my 60th birthday and 2 days before Christmas. The following 10 long days in hospital did not help my mental health - I had a very small window above my bed in hospital and I sat on the bed looking out with a great deal of depression wondering whether or not I would ever get out and back to walking in the hills.
Fortunately I escaped from the hospital just into the New Year and spent the rest of 2018 regaining my health and fitness - this included my mental health and overcoming depression knowing in the back of my mind that one day I would be able to get back into the hills. It took some time but eventually I managed a slow walk up Snowdon later that year with a couple of friends and a number of walks around the Peak District. Earlier in 2019 I managed to climb up Helvellyn via striding edge with a group of friends. This was a mighty leap forward for myself in many ways and gave me a great deal of confidence in my own ability not only to enjoy walking in the hills, climb and scramble along a difficult ridge but the benefits to my mental health and having a more positive outlook to life rather than a very negative one that came along after my heart attack.
At the time of heart attack I only had 10 munro`s to complete my first round of munro`s and this was the only thing on my mind for 18 months of rehab and fitness training - I guess it did become an obsession to return to Scotland and complete my remaining munro`s.
I am pleased to report that the remaining 10 munro`s have now been climbed during April & May 2019 finishing off with Ben Challum (also known as Malcolm`s Hill) on Sunday 26th May sadly in terrible weather conditions - reason enough for returning in the future to climb Ben Challum again on a good day.
I enjoy the hills because of the freedom that they offer for free in this crazy world, plus the enjoyment of being part of a walking group or the lovely solitude if walking on your own and the way that all of life problems & issues seem to melt away in the hills and mountains.
My thanks to all my friends for their support and Stepping Hill hospital, Stockport for looking after me and my 4 brave friends who managed to climb Ben Challum with me last Sunday- not forgetting my other friends who found the strong winds, heavy rain & low cloud not very enjoyable and turned around at various points. We all returned safe for a night of celebrating in Tyndrum and Crianlarich. Life in this old ticker yet.
Regards Malcolm
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby Krystalized » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:49 am

Walkinmyfootsteps wrote:Healthy body healthy mind.
Easy four words but it’s a winner


Couldn't say it better. That's the main reason I started hillwalking.
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby scotsmist » Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:29 pm

I had my first heart attack when I was 37. I worked too hard, too long and under too much stress as a self employed software engineer. I had my second heart attack seven years later.

I smoked a lot of weed, drank a lot of caffeine, didn't eat sensibly and got annoyed all the time. When I turned 40 I started drinking an occasional single malt. It was not long after I had my second heart attack and had a stent put in. Came home, quit smoking, drinking and took a long hard look at my life. My father had just died and my long term relationship was suffering. I was forced to move home twice in a short time and then in 2015 my relationship ended and I lost my family.

I bounced around and went from one shag to another, started drinking more, smoking weed again and let my life go to hell. Although I wasn't depressed I was very sad, lonely and spent a lot of time alone with the dog. 30 years earlier I had started walking the west highland way, but never finished it, so myself and the latest lass decided to give it a go. Wild camping and carrying all our gear. It went dreadfully and we split up. Just before christmas we split for good. The next February the dog and I walked part of the WHW, camped and had a great time in the snow and cold. I was hooked.

For the next year I walked long distance trails, walked mountains and spent a lot of time on Arran, camping in the glen or on the summits with the dog. A year later my dog died.

The rest of that year was ****. The day after my dog died I walked the WHW again. Then again in September and again over christmas and new year. I was a right bah humbug. In between the walks I started on the mountains but found myself losing interest. It wasn't the same without my wee dog and I struggled to complete many summits.

While I was at the top of the devils staircase on new years day, a friend messaged and asked if I had a dog yet. They had a 5 year old collie who needed one on one and would I like to meet her. I did and we walked 20 miles home together the next morning.

I'm back in the hills, back on the summits, walking the ridges, camping in the glens in all weather. We've been island hoping and she loves the tent. Laughs at all my jokes, never argues and is happy to be in my company.

For me, the hills started off as my carrot and stick but after the loss of my dog they became my stick, I had lost my carrot. I couldn't bare being in the places we had enjoyed and I didn't have the heart or motivation to try new places.

Thanks for reading. Glad I finally found the courage to tell someone. Now life is a bit better when you have something to love.
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby nick70 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:12 pm

Scotsmist I have 4 cats at home, but I also love dogs so much and would love to have one to accompany me on walks.

The time our pets have with us is all too short, but in time we DO remember ALL the good times with them.

And for the record, your new Collie looks a cracker. I wish you both all the best in all your walks together :D :D
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby wee black dug » Thu Nov 07, 2019 6:55 pm

That's a fine - and to my mind - brave post, scotsmist. More power to your elbow, and the dug's paw.

Cheers for sharing.

:)
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby Manwaeadug » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:15 pm

Scotsmist - Smashing looking Collie. :)

I've got a wee Patterdale (well, he's kinda big for a Patterdale tbh), still only a pup and full of energy; next spring he'll be going into training for WHW etc by doing a few shorter walks and some overnight camping. He can be a wee bugger at times (a pup and a terrier....what do you expect :lol: ) but when I settle in for the night I know that come rain or shine that the wee fella will jump up beside me, coorie in, and all is good in the world. :)


Watched an outdoors programme on iplayer last night where the fellas never completed their 'tour' of lochs on Rannoch Moor. It ended with the following words (paraphrasing a bit but I reckon folks will get the gist of it) 'we might not get where we want to go in life, but if we have a few good meals and a few laughs along the way, it might not be all that bad'
I kinda like that sentiment.
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby spiderwebb » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:31 pm

Scotsmist, you've been through tough times, but I fully understand the difference a dog makes. I too lost my hill companion some years back and miss her still. I think the beauty of a dog or other pet for that matter, is that they do not judge, do not care about your mood, and are quite simply just there without demanding anything from you, walks and care accepted. The downside, as has been mentioned, is that they are not around for long and maybe that's why their loss has such a huge impact on us.
Good luck to you, and my very best wishes :D

My Holly

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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby scotsmist » Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:50 pm

nick70, wee black dug, manwaeadug and spiderwebb thanks for taking the time to reply. Love, peace and happiness.
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby mynthdd2 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 10:54 pm

that really is an honest and reflective post - I guess all of us feel really crap sometimes and the outdoors seem to be cathartic - a dog I don't have but by gum Im really tempted now - cheers mate

ps a border collie is my best wish!
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:00 pm

There are some fantastic, inspiring stories on this thread about how the hills (and dogs) are our friends - helping people beat depression, anxiety and stress.

A book could be written about this subject (maybe it has been?...)

Two things have puzzled me over the years:

- why do there seem to be more mental health problems around these days?

- why does the outdoors help?

I did a post a while ago (on this thread, maybe?) with my first thoughts on it. But thinking about it more, the answer has become a bit clearer to me, I think.

It occurred to me the other night, when the word "Angst" came up in conversation. I remembered that the word was first used to mean what we now call "stress" or "anxiety" by the Danish writer Kierkegaard, back in the early 19th century.

Kierkegaard said that animals suffer fear, but in response to specific dangers. "Angst" is much harder to deal with, because it is unfocused. We feel bad and struggle with life - but we don't know what to do to feel better.

Like animals, our minds evolved to deal with very scary risks. Modern society has eliminated most of those risks, which is good. But, our brains are programmed to be on a constant look-out for danger.

Our brains' alarm bells still ring - but we don't know why.

Plus, we get bombarded with information telling us to buy this, look at that.

In the blink of an eye (in evolutionary terms) the human species has changed its whole environment. Our brains haven't evolved to deal with this.

No wonder that, for many of us, the outdoors is our therapy!

Tim
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby Cairngormwanderer » Fri Nov 08, 2019 3:56 pm

This post seems to have had a bit of a revival. When it started there was a reporter got in touch with some who responded and it resulted in a large interactive piece on the Scotsman online. Never posted it at the time as I wasn't sure (and am still not) about being featured so prominently, but, hey, there's nothing in it I feel I should be ashamed of, so if it's of help to anyone...
https://www.scotsman.com/interactive/munros#main-page-section-0
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:44 pm

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:There are some fantastic, inspiring stories on this thread about how the hills (and dogs) are our friends - helping people beat depression, anxiety and stress.

A book could be written about this subject (maybe it has been?...)

Two things have puzzled me over the years:

- why do there seem to be more mental health problems around these days?

- why does the outdoors help?

I did a post a while ago (on this thread, maybe?) with my first thoughts on it. But thinking about it more, the answer has become a bit clearer to me, I think.

It occurred to me the other night, when the word "Angst" came up in conversation. I remembered that the word was first used to mean what we now call "stress" or "anxiety" by the Danish writer Kierkegaard, back in the early 19th century.

Kierkegaard said that animals suffer fear, but in response to specific dangers. "Angst" is much harder to deal with, because it is unfocused. We feel bad and struggle with life - but we don't know what to do to feel better.

Like animals, our minds evolved to deal with very scary risks. Modern society has eliminated most of those risks, which is good. But, our brains are programmed to be on a constant look-out for danger.

Our brains' alarm bells still ring - but we don't know why.

Plus, we get bombarded with information telling us to buy this, look at that.

In the blink of an eye (in evolutionary terms) the human species has changed its whole environment. Our brains haven't evolved to deal with this.

No wonder that, for many of us, the outdoors is our therapy!

Tim


Cairngormwanderer's Scotsman article in this thread seems spot-on to me. Especially this quote, which expresses what I was trying to say above - but much more eloquently!

"I believe our minds are honed by evolution from our hunter-gatherer past to enjoy walking through hills and glens, canoeing along lochs, camping in peaceful surroundings and sitting around campfires.

"This stressful mad rush which life has become since the Industrial Revolution is too much for our primordial minds and can be very unhealthy for us. A balance needs to be found between working in the modern world to enjoy the benefits of progress and relaxing in the real world of quiet hills, lochs and heather." (https://www.scotsman.com/interactive/munros#main-page-section-0)

To illustrate, here's my own screensaver pic of my kids. When I took it my son was listening to his iphone, of course...
IMG_0061a - Copy.JPG
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby iangpark » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:32 pm

Cairngormwanderer wrote:This post seems to have had a bit of a revival. When it started there was a reporter got in touch with some who responded and it resulted in a large interactive piece on the Scotsman online. Never posted it at the time as I wasn't sure (and am still not) about being featured so prominently, but, hey, there's nothing in it I feel I should be ashamed of, so if it's of help to anyone...
https://www.scotsman.com/interactive/munros#main-page-section-0


Cheers for posting this, I'd have missed it without it!
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby mynthdd2 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:14 pm

Whilst I accept the timeline of a hillwalker/mountaineer my main sadness is that I cannot physically do all the big stuff I used to do. Totally agreed that I should adapt to old age limitations (I am chronologically 63 but my knees are easily 163) and the fact that I cannot do all the stuff that I have done for so long is hard to take.

I really do not want to adapt (self esteem?) so much that eg I do the Northumbrian Coastal Path along with dog walkers and (yes very decent) shufflers which taken together is seriously not helping my mental wellbeing

Further, I look at all my hillwalking kit and sigh... so I should just pull up somewhere remote in my Landy and admire the view hoping that the magic of the great outdoors will get through to me somehow?
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Re: Mental health/hillwalking

Postby madprof » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:16 pm

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote: - why do there seem to be more mental health problems around these days?


A lot of the rise of mental health issues is down to greater awareness. It is recognised more easily and people speak more openly about it (good!).

In my lifetime it has gone from "you're just wallowing in your own self-pity/you're a weirdo" to "mate it's OK we all have problems, I'll try and help".
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