Stepping back to step forward

by Lorna

I joined Anna for an overnight retreat after feeling like a bit of guided introspection would do me good.

Jo Tennant Photographs

I used to be good at taking time to understand why I reacted certain ways, how I felt about people and situations. But after a period of depression I have found this really quite difficult. Too much time on my hands when I was unemployed and struggling with my mental health meant I could easily get into negative thinking. Understanding what was wrong didn’t feel helpful when I also felt completely unable to do something about it or see a way out. I developed lots of techniques to not let myself dwell on anything.

After retraining and a new career I expected to get back to normal, strong and resilient. But 2 years and 3 jobs down the line I was still using these techniques to pretend to myself that everything was fine. Anna’s suggestion of an overnight retreat came as I realised it was time to face up to the fact that something wasn’t fine.

Firstly, as a relatively experienced outdoors-person, arriving to something that had been totally arranged for me was bliss! I didn’t know what the plan was for the next 24 hours and I didn’t need to. It was a lovely mix of talk around the fire and solo time – walking or sitting in the lovely forest. With Anna’s help we got to know each other and found our connections, whether light and fun or a little deeper.

Being surrounded by positive and supportive women, who each also had their own strengths and challenges was both relaxing and inspiring. The quiet forest setting was perfect for solo wanders and time to let the brain settle without distractions. I spent an hour lying in a hammock looking up at the treetops, letting my mind wander places it hadn’t been for a while. I can’t say I had any revelations there and then but even starting to explore what was making me unhappy was a big step forward. We finished the second day with a hike and a swim and I went home feeling… open?

Over the next 2 weeks or so I faced up to an uncomfortable truth – the job I’d spent a lot of time, effort and money on, and pinned a lot of hope to, would likely never be quite right for me. But much to my surprise, once I accepted this, a solution was not far away. Now, a few months later, I’m preparing to start a new job and full of excitement and hope!

To step back to step forward, book your own WanderWomen experience here:

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