I knew about post trail depression from research and word of mouth on trail, but actually going through it was another animal completely. Re-acclimatizing back to society could explained similarly to that culture shock feeling one gets from the first week back from an abroad trip, though it lasts way longer than a week and hurts a little. I for a while over-valued my worth. With all the energy I had, I felt like I could move mountains, to put the overvaluation into perspective. At least it was better than prior to the trail when I was undervaluing myself, but as a consequence, I for a long while had not been able to fulfill my goals for the first five months back from the trail, longer than I would like to admit to myself, trying to take bigger bites off of more than I could chew.
When I got off the trail, I had big plans, but too many and too big, easily getting discouraged in the process. I wanted positions that I did not have the skill level to acquire. For example, I wanted to start a food product business idea without ever having any business experience.
Discouraged, there have been times I felt lost with direction, idling. I’ll have all this energy to do something, energy I do not know for sure would stay for long but due to my lack of direction and fickle self, all that valuable energy and time has gone to waste. Even now want several directions, but I know I need to focus on one and follow through, despite the moments at times I feel I as if I am following blindly. I want to grow as I was growing on the trail. I want to escape into the mountains. I want to go back to my economically comfortable job. I want seek a career in travel. I want more face time with people. I want more outdoor time. I want to travel young while I am still physically capable. I want to stick to the state of constant growth, without hiccups, without my impatience, without wasting my time and money on something that is ‘not me’ too long, but that is life, the reality of the matter. That being said, I need to remind myself to focus on what I can control, the “little goals,” and not get discouraged when I am unable to accomplish a goal too large. Despite the desire for trying out different directions, I know, I do not have the luxury to be trying multiple different directions. Weighing out my options, I eventually choose a direction. I decided to pursue further education. I am also now perusing a Master’s degree in Computer Science via a Data Science track. For work, I took a job as a stocker at Target, building up what I can in reputation while I more carefully look for opportunities in the data science niche.
I know how this blog reads, but I am not sad nor depressed. I simply thought I would be much further along in my life than I am currently. While discouraged at times, life is so much better than pre-trail. I feel liberated. I am finally in control of my life and have goals. Control wise, I have noticed something interesting in my behavior. I used to be very self-consciousness of my external appearance and worried constantly with no off-switch. Specifically, worried how I would look through the eyes of another person, and now I operate without a worry of how I look to another. I can finally be myself, obstacle free. As to how this change happened, I cannot name a specific date, but I think it had to do with spending time with myself distraction free. Maybe I got so sick of myself on trail, that I had no choice but to change.
Another change which I believe relates closely to the previously mentioned behavior, is that I am less organized. I used to be extremely organized and would feel unbalanced if I was not. While still very capable, from the many years of experience, I no longer feel the unbalance. Despite enjoying the internal peace, I no longer have the innate desire to stay constantly organized, making the rest of my life, quite simply put, difficult.
Prior to the trail, I used to day dream about traveling, now the majority of the time if I am daydreaming at all, I will think back to my experience on the Appalachian Trail. I definitely miss the life style, but more, the distraction free environment. I love my tech, but if you don’t use your phone for example as a tool, one can sometimes get caught up in the not urgent, not important quadrant of your life, wasting valuable time. Despite the days of being in constant pain, I miss the peaceful days alone with my thoughts, without service, hearing sometimes only the wind blowing in my face. I have a better idea of how to block out certain noise, but no where close to where I would like to be.
As for hikes, I have hiked since I have been on trail and do plan to eventually post about my travels when I can. If you would like to see the photos from any of my hikes earlier, here is a link to my Facebook. Fair warning, I do not add people I have not met in person, though if you would like to just see my photos, all my travel photos are public.
Welp that pretty much summarizes my life, post-trail, up to this point. Oh, website wise, I updated some information such as its layout, updates, new pages, gear, links. Aside from the new information, I am in the process of evolving the blog into an outlet of personal thoughts, travels (past + future), and life. Updates will not be regular as I would like due to the number of more important life tasks such as grad school, but you as a reader can at least always count this website being live to reference whenever needed.
2 Replies to “Post Trail depression is real.”
Hey, Macon– You don’t know me but I have been friends with your uncle, Bob Carlton for many years. I thought your blog on post-trail depression was open and honest, (and applicable to shorter hikes, too). While I can offer no solutions to it, please know that those of us who have never thru-hiked the AT view your trip with a great deal of respect. Regardless of what you do with the rest of your life, that hike is something no one can take away from you.
I very much appreciate your feedback.
I have a slightly different opinion now that I have re-acclimated back into a direction. I now feel that while going through the readjustment, I had also had been going through a burst in maturity, separate from the trail. The trail tremulously changed me as a person, for being as young as I am, but I am also in the process of maturing as a person.
Thank you for your feedback. 🙂