I am going on an Outward Bound Canada course in September. “What is the Women of Courage Course? The Women of Courage course is an exciting, 8-day wilderness program created for women who are involved in the process of healing that follows the self-acknowledgement of an experience of abuse.”
I have been on a W.O.C. course in Ontario in 2005 and it was amazing. This one is happening in the Rocky Mountains beside Banff national park. It is an 8 day wilderness backpacking course. I have not done any serious backpacking since I was 16 years old and I was 100 lbs lighter, so needless to say, this is going to be a challenge in more ways then one.
Yesterday I went down to Victoria to get a pair of good backpacking boats. I got them and am in the process of breaking them in. On the way back from Victoria I was thinking how nice it is to get a very good quality boot for my course, and how nice it is to have the right boots, and not have to settle with “good enough” ones that would not do the job. I then started thinking about how important it is to have the “right tools for the job”, be it work or play. Then I started to think how this is also important in mental health matters.
People with Dissociative Identity Disorder are,on average, in the mental health system for 7-12 years before being correctly diagnosed. That’s a lot of time spent with the “good enough.” In my case, nothing seemed to work for long, because there was no correct diagnosis, no one knew what the matter was. It was not until May of 2003 that I was correctly diagnosed, and once that happened I had the right tools to help me and my journey began. I was being offered the right tools, to learn the right skills, to have the right support to help me get to where I am today. I don’t need to tell you how this has made all the difference in the world to me and my family.
I have spent the last week preparing for my course in September. I have been walking around the area with a back pack with 20 pounds of gear in it. The first time I put the pack on I could not believe how heavy it was, I have to work up to 45 pounds. The next day it was a little easier and I slowly increased the distance.
Yesterday I got my new boots and last night I went for a walk with them, pack and all. Oh my, does it ever make a difference, these are great boots, great grip and amazing support and very, very comfortable. In fact, after the 4.6km walk this morning and 5 km walk this evening I can honestly say that my feet were the only comfortable part of my body.
These boots are going to play a very important supporting role on my course. They will be supporting my feet, which will be supporting my body as I carry a 45+ pound pack over hill and dell and who knows where. Like the supports I have for my mental health, these boots will carry me along this 8 day journey of discovery. And like my mental health journey it will take time, time to build up my stamina and strength to carry 45 pounds for a great distance, this will take time, and I’m sure I will get frustrated, have moments where I think I cant make it and give up, but like my mental health journey, I will make it.
I look over at my boots and I think how far I have come. There was a time I was lucky if I could step out of the house, let alone go on an 8 day wilderness trip. Like back then, all I could do was put one foot in front of the other, not knowing where it was going to lead. But unlike back then, I dissociate less and less and I am looking forward to staying in the present during this course and being able to remember all of it. That is a gift.
I am excited, I am nervous; I have some trepidation and wonder what the Hell I have gotten myself into. But I will do it none the less.
As I prepare for this Outward Bound course I wish you all the best on your journey, be it physical or mentally. Be it taking on something big, or trying to make it to the next day, let alone the next hour. No matter what your journey is, I hope you have the right equipment to help along the way. Be it big or small they all have something in common, they all start with the first step!
Those are my thoughts for today and I wish you well on your journey.
Cheers and be well
PS- here is a link to the Outward Bound Canada program