"Time for a Change"
In 2014, I retired from the Navy as a wounded warrior. My body was racked with pain from several chronic autoimmune diseases and I was bedridden for years.
On a bright, warm summer day in the Shenandoah Valley, my family stopped at a trailhead to experience the grandeur we heard so much about while living in Virginia.
I couldn't make it past 100 feet.
The pain in my body, the fear of the trail, the uncertainty in the wilderness stopped me dead in the forest. I couldn't do it.
After our summer adventures, my family packed up and moved to Western Maine to seek better medical care for my illnesses.
Within 3 months, I was once again staring at a white blaze. I was once again taken by fear, pain, and uncertainty...and I broke down in tears. All I wanted was to walk, to hike into the trail, to find the peace I'd heard so many stories about... but I couldn't.
I couldn't for several reasons...my body was destroyed from years of chronic pain, autoimmune issues, ineffective treatments, prescription opiate addiction and mental health disorders. I was my own worst enemy and I was destined to become part of the "22+ veterans a day" who commit suicide.
My life needed to CHANGE.
In May of 2016, I made a promise to myself. I was going to tackle at least ONE trail listed in the MATC guide. For weeks, I drove to Rangeley and attempted Piazza rock. When I wasn't on that trail, I was hiking on Maine Huts and Trails system (Carrabassett Valley) to gain strength and confidence.
In June 2016, I started and finished Table Rock in Newry. When I stood out on the rock overlooking Old Speck, I crumbled to the ground and sobbed liked a child. I made it! I MADE IT!! That's all my heart could say.
It felt like years of addiction, pain, depression, anxiety and PTSD slowly started to lose grip on my soul...
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