On a physical level, the best outcome of my pilgrimage is that after 22 years I have been able to go off anti-depressants.
I don’t mean to judge anyone who takes SSRIs, not at all. We are all trying to figure out what our lives mean and how best to live.
It wasn’t the Camino alone that helped me ween myself off them. I also had the help of a mind-body therapist who continues to offer suggestions for passing through anxiety and panic, the two main symptoms of the depression I have experienced off and on since childhood.
If the medications work, then take them. But after more than two decades on various SSRIs, I had fluctuating blood pressure and strange head rushes that led to near fainting, symptoms that have now disappeared since I went off the medication.
I attribute my peace of mind to the days and days of spending six to eight hours outdoors, walking and meditating. Even though the heat in Georgia can be unbearable, I continue to walk.
Each day is a new challenge in maintaining a balance of body, mind, and spirit. I’m tottering on a fragile tightrope of sanity, but walking and writing continue to be my medicine.
About 8 or 9 miles, from Burnt Hickory Road to Dallas Highway at Kennesaw Battlefield Park, then on to the visitor’s center and back to Burnt Hickory.
Creatures I noticed:
Dragonflies, ants, butterflies, various birds, including two giant vultures, a wee toad, about the size of my thumb pad, a chipmunk, many squirrels.
I stood still and listened to the cicadas in the trees and the grasshoppers in the tall grass. There was very little breeze, and the trees were still and silent, their leaves dry and weary from the heat. The noise from the highway and the passing trains at times overpowered the silence of the woods.
It was a heavy, humid trek. I encouraged myself to keep walking by remembering the way I felt toward the end of my walks on the Camino–with sore feet and tired legs, I still managed to make it up those steep inclines. You can do this, I told myself.