Some say the sky is the limit. I say the mind is the limit. And my mind has a limit. We all have limits. This just happens to be mine.
For months and months and months and months I have been preparing for my trip to South America. I would be hiking through Torres del Paine National Park. Patagonia is said to be one of the most/last remote, breathtaking places on our planet. Backpacking for 10 days through glaciers and other beauty I've never experienced. Staying in hostels. Gaining an understanding of other cultures. Eating local food. Buying special gifts for my nephews and nieces. I've been reading up on Chile', learning Spanish, hiking, lifting, pushing myself, and dreaming the most life-changing dream...
...then I woke up in a panic. Heaving for air. Reality was hovering over my bed. Staring heavily into my eyes.
Over the New Year's weekend I went backpacking northeast of San Diego for three days and two nights. It ended up snowing/raining and I was so happy. I knew I would have to push myself and in Patagonia, weather would mostly likely be unforgiving. Almost constant winds, frequent, heavy rain. I read an article in which a girl told a story of how mud went up to her thighs during part of the hike.
On the first night of New Year's camping, rain starting coming into the tent. We had to adjust and figure out our next move. We were cold and wet. I was not sleeping. Sleep for me is like a selfie stick for Kim Kardashian. Without it, I won't last very long.
The next morning was beautiful. We dried off and headed out. For the majority of the day I led the pack. I couldn't believe it. I was always the last to cross the line during basketball drills, always the first to admit I needed a break during any physical activity. Never had I been the front runner, or in this case, the trailblazer. On top of that I had a heavy pack on my back. I was tired but during the hard moments I had two phrases running through my head in rhythm with my footsteps: "My body is strong and my mind is even stronger," and, "Capaz y fuerte," which means, "Capable and strong."
We made it to the last stop and relaxed in the tent. 3 of us. The other 2 had their eyes closed and were sleeping. This entire time I hadn't been hungry because I was nauseous so my food intake could have been a lot higher. Not getting enough food is another thing that spins me into hypomania. I relaxed on my back and starting reading a book written by someone with Bipolar 1. She was sharing her stories and there was a line that talked about having limitations.
I put the book down and had a very deliberate thought: I can't do this.
I covered my mouth with both hands.
I got up as quietly as I could.
I put on my hiking boots, down jacket, hat, buff, and raincoat. I started running down the snow-speckled trail. I kept looking back to see how far I was from the tent. I kept running. Kept running. My breathing was unsteady and shallow. I couldn't see the tent anymore. I stopped, looked up at the mountains in front of me and let it all go into the air.
I cried hard. I took my hat off, shoved it in my face, and screamed. Sorrow landed on me like a big, wet, down blanket. It came out in billows. I sat on a rock and covered my hands over my eyes. The fog that hung in the air seemed to share my sentiments. I slowly walked back and got back in the tent once I knew I had let everything out that I needed to let out.
We had a great time in the tent. We told jokes and laughed and it all felt great. The vast majority of the trip was refreshing. It was cold that night again. I didn't feel like I slept for one minute. We got up early, packed up and walked 11 miles. Night two of no sleep. The bell tolls.
I led the pack on the way back. As I was walking the trail I had a flashback. This is what the trail looked like when Jesus had to carry his cross. But I saw the flashback in a way that I thought I was the one that walked that trail. I was Jesus. I had a huge grin on my face the entire way. I lightly tripped on a rock and thought, Jesus fell more than once on his way to Calvary. I remember this happening to me.
I have no idea how I was able to stay in reality so well, but I did. The hike was challenging and I rose to the occasion once again. I was in pain but I pushed through. Not only did I push through, I thrived, I conquered. I learned big lessons on that whole hike. I could trust my body. I broke the bind of physical limits that had so easily wrapped around me as a kid. Binds I put on myself. I looked at the inclining, long trail, and had a very deliberate thought: "I can do this."
And I did.
I got home and all of the monsters knocked on my door. "Come in," I said, with my eyes tightly shut. I scheduled a next-day appointment with my psychiatrist. He was now hesitant. The next day (today actually), I met with my therapist. She was now hesitant.
After upwards of $1,500 spent on this trip, training, believing, reading, dreaming, the voice rang true: "Veronica, you cannot do this."
My heart is heavy. I am disappointed. But I know my journey to Patagonia had already started. I can half-ass order a sandwich at subway in Spanish, I have a new passion for being in nature, I know when I can, and I honor when I cannot. I've decided I am not going to Patagonia next month.
Knowing my limits is not a limiting realization. In the words of my mother, "Strength is when you are true to yourself." I want nothing more than to go on this trip. I've had to really assess this situation, and against my desire, I am in surrender. I trust myself in this decision. I've seen the strength I have. And letting go takes a lot of strength.
Yo soy capaz y fuerte.