A note from Maman on the Trail:
Meet Jesse, a human of the outdoors. Jesse lives in Brampton, Ontario and gets outdoors with his girlfriend and friends. Here is his story…
On his time outdoors…
I’m either running the trails or hiking them. I get out as much as I can. My girlfriend joins me on a few hikes a month, and I also trail run with a friend two or three times a week.
My love for the outdoors all started when I was a child. My father always made sure me and my sister appreciated Mother Nature and all that she has to offer. He would bring us on day hikes through various Provincial Parks in and around the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). My life as a child was mainly spent outdoors and I am forever grateful for that.
On using Vitamin N to combat mental health issues…
Between the ages of 18 and 25, I spent little time outdoors; instead I was partying with friends, forming some bad habits and unknowingly developing an anxiety disorder.
I often felt very nervous or scared for no apparent reason, multiple times a day, and I thought I was losing my mind. My heart would race and I would sweat profusely. I was in a very negative state of mind and I would sometimes feel like I was going to start to cry for no reason at all. Essentially, I was depressed. The funny thing is I would never end up crying, I would just quickly leave wherever I was fearing that I was going to start crying. There was never a certain situation that would trigger an attack, they were all very random and came from nowhere. Eventually I was diagnosed with panic disorder.
Instead of taking anti-depressants prescribed by the doctor, I heeded my father’s suggestion that I try spending time outdoors hiking and bike riding. In my father’s teenage years, he often struggled with anxiety, and he headed into nature to find relief. So when he found out that I was struggling with panic disorder, it was the first effective tool he could provide me with to help deal with my issues. At the time it wasn’t a definite answer to my problems, but it was a good place to start.
On the first day that I reconnected with nature I was already feeling small signs of relief. But it took a good three months to really start feeling like myself again. I should add that it wasn’t just nature that helped cure me, although nature was the biggest part, I also had help from a psychologist. The psychologist helped me to better understand what was going on inside my mind, and he gave me a couple of coping tools to use that really helped like deep breathing and meditation.
But I strongly believe that my disorder was healed through the power of Mother Nature. Each time that I went out for a hike or a bike ride I could feel the anxiety melting away. It may sound unbelievable, but Mother Nature freed me of my panic disorder, and I have such a deep appreciation towards her. I feel as if she saved my life.
On making the most of time in nature…
So now, with a second chance at life, I have been spending every chance I get outside. My girlfriend, Kasia, and I are currently hiking the Bruce Trail from end to end. We started in Niagara two years ago and we are currently in Kimberley, Ontario, which is just west of Collingwood. Along the way I have always been snapping pictures, first with my cellphone, but now with a better quality camera that allows me to be more creative.
Nature has gotten me into photography, it has freed me from anxiety and it allows me to live an active healthy lifestyle. Spending time outdoors has given me many benefits, such as getting exercise, sleeping well, discovering new places, meeting new people who share similar interests, and I have an increased amount of energy throughout the day. I also find myself reading a lot more books about adventure and the outdoors. How could one not love it?!
A little Q & A…
Q: What is your go-to adventure snack?
A: Chocolate Chip Clif Bars.
Q: What piece of gear do you never leave the house without?
A: My cameras: a Nikon P610, if I am hiking or just exploring, and my Go Pro, if I am trail running.
Q: What is your favourite nature quote, and who said it first?
A: “Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt.” ~ John Muir
Q: What one piece of advice would you share with someone who is wary of or new to the outdoors?
A: It’s not the mountains ahead that will wear you down, it’s the pebble in your shoe. Just get out there and enjoy. There’s nothing to be wary of!
For more of Jesse’s stories and adventures, you can follow him on Instagram, @Jec2200.