Why I got naked in the Lake District
For the better part of the past two years, I have been trapped in the dark claws of depression and I feel like the story of how the events in the video at the end of this post came to be wouldn't be complete without a bit of backstory into how this all started.
My depression started a bit over 2 years ago, though this is something I only came to realise in the last few months. It all started with what was at first misdiagnosed as a minor back injury, which in effect was a full blown hernia in my lower back which in turn left me in immense amounts of pain and incapable of living my day-to-day life. When your body can't move and you are in fact trapped within yourself, the mind can venture to some of the darkest places possible to "entertain" itself. If like me you have a good decade or more worth of trauma and abuse lurking just under the surface, then boy oh boy is your mind about to have a fucked up field day with you. And that is exactly what happened to me, but it happened so gradually and so slowly that it took a full year and a half for me to not only realise that I was depressed but to also admit it to myself out loud.
Admitting this truth to myself only made me sink deeper and deeper into the dark ocean of my depression. It's really quite harrowing to realise that you are your own worst enemy. Depression is a completely self-inflicted condition where we convince ourselves that we are not worth the earth we walk on. It's a scary and excruciating place to be when you realise that you're not actually safe in your own body. If I can't be safe with myself, then where can I possibly turn to?
Even as I am writing these words, I am not completely sure of how to express the harrowing state that is depression. I currently lack the vocabulary to fully express the extent to which my depression has torn me apart from the inside. This is also not what this post is about and this was just an attempt to give you the reader an idea of the mindset I was in during the next part of my story.
So seeing the state I just couldn't manage to get myself out of, Bae my forever unwavering rock of a man, decided on attempt #3867 to cheer me up and bring a hint of joy to my life even if just for a moment. His latest idea was to whisk me away on an impromptu road trip across England to the Lake District. And thus we set off on a sunny May bank holiday weekend to the north of England, him breaming with enthusiasm as always (where does he get it from?) and me a dark shadow traipsing behind him with 0 oz of joy in sight.
The road to the Lakes took us through the Creswell Crags, where we made a pitstop, late afternoon having left London 4 hours earlier with two more hours of driving ahead before reaching our destination. Though we left a sunny London behind the closer we inched towards our destination the mistier the roads became and there even came one point where we were completely wrapped in a thick veil of mist. It's as if nature could sense the doom and dread in me and tried to match my mood by cloaking the road ahead. The crags which were set in a gorge formed all the way back in the last ice age greeted us with this view:
I'm not sure what more I could add as I believe this completely unedited filter free picture does a better job than any string of words I may be able to tie together. This ended up being just a taster of the wonders I was about to discover once we reached and started exploring our ultimate destination. Now let me tell you something, if like me your entire knowledge of the UK is centred around your life in London then please do yourself a favour and get out of your bubble to go and explore further than the M25 because this island is hiding some true natural gems.
That long weekend exploring, hiking, climbing and running naked in the Lake District is probably the most magical thing my depressed brain has done so far this year and one that will stay with me for as long as I'm alive and able to remember. We've driven through landscapes that seemed to be from another world, climbed some of the steepest peaks and got to see some of nature's masterpieces up close and personal. We crossed rivers narrow and wide, encountered waterfalls one higher and more impressive than the previous, we drove winding roads and barely missed colliding with other cars coming on from across a bend ahead, we swam in freezing cold deserted lakes and shared the roads for miles on end with just sheep, cows and the occasional chickens.
One of those hikes took us through a beautiful area of mixed woodlands, a dark lush world quite unlike any I had ever seen in England. Our path took us climbing along a magnificent gorge dripping with mosses and ferns and we could feel a heavy rainforest-like humidity rising the higher we climbed. All the while we were following a river upwards in search of the waterfall it emerged from. Throughout the entire hike, I couldn't help but be in tune with the nature that was surrounding me, welcoming me and soothing me beyond anything I had ever felt.
For the first time in a very very long time, I was able to tune out my brain and tune into the frequency nature was presenting to me. I could hear and truly appreciate a multitude of birdsongs, the pure and crisp smell of air purified by lush green foliage emerging after a long harsh winter. For the first time in a long time, I was at peace and my brain was so in awe of all the wonders it was trying to process that it didn't have the time to serve me with the usual self-beating I had become accustomed to.
As we finally reached high to the pool Stanley Glynn Force plunged into, there was nothing left of the depressed soul that had started the journey earlier that day. There I was in front of a masterpiece of nature, with the man I love and who truly deeply loves me back and no other human in sight for miles. There was no sadness, no hurt, no doom or gloom, no judgment of myself, no self-hate, no hate for the body that had carried me this far and had undergone changes I had so many issues grappling with.
There was just me and him and nature. And in that moment, all I could think of was to strip down to my birthday suit and plunge into the pool that seemed to be calling for me. I felt a strong need to be one with the world that was enveloping me, the world that for that moment in time, right then and there was all I seemed to know. And that's exactly what I did.
It was freezing cold, it was sweet and it was exactly what I needed to do at that exact moment in time. It was one of those things I would have regretted for the rest of my life had I not done it, and no matter if I ever returned there later in my life, the experience would not be the same because I wouldn't have been the same person. And that ladies and gentlemen, is how I bore it all in a waterfall in the Lake District.
My spontaneous skinny dip inspired another completely crazy idea just moments after coming out of the water. Bae and I decided to stay an additional night. We scoured a quiet village town on a Sunday afternoon for an inflatable mattress, pillows, duvet covers a disposable bbq and ad-hoc camping equipment. Living in London we realised that we tend to take access to shops at random times very much for granted, but the will was strong and we managed to gather all our required equipment and supplies. We then drove for the third time through the extremely high and winding roads connecting Hardknott Pass and Wrynosse Pass to the mars like deserted landscapes of the Hard Knott valley. We parked our car on one of the peaks almost 400m above sea level, put the back seats down, inflated our newly acquired air mattress to fit snug into the boot and back of the car. We turned on the bbq, popped open a bottle of wine and enjoyed an impromptu glamping trip in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by goats and the resounding silence of the night. After dinner, we cuddled up in our made up car booth tent and dozed off while counting the bright stars and with the full moon shining brightly above our heads.