I wake up on the road in intense pain. I don’t know what’s happened. Who are these people? Where am I? Why is my right shoulder killing me? But it’s only when I get home from the hospital that the extent of my injuries start to emerge. I can’t read, I can listen to music, I can’t be around my family. What is happening?
The injury makes me reflect on what the load on my brain was like before the accident. I’m a journalist, my head’s full of work. I manage our household, wrangle our kids. My partner’s frantic running his arts organisation. I still keep a busy social life. I love late nights out in hectic loud bars drinking with friends. But after the accident I can’t do any of this!
Finally, I get a diagnosis. The doctors tell me I have what they’re calling ‘a mild traumatic brain injury’. And there’s not much that they can do about it. They encourage me to just accept my situation. Then, some friends invite me on a bushwalk.
I’m racing towards the finish line. I’m almost better! I try to get back to my normal life, but something’s still not quite right. And then, all of a sudden, things start to unravel. Surely this isn’t happening. I’m nearly better, remember? I find Cait Ward, who had similar experiences after being hit with a lacrosse ball.
I’m depressed and anxious and the headaches are back. I have to dose myself up on nature again. I wouldn’t have considered heading into the bush alone before the accident. But now I’m known for turning up to school pick-ups in shorts and hiking boots. But why has no doctor told me to use nature? Or even encouraged me really?
The doctors are saying they want me to go back to work…gradually. But I’m not sure. I’ve lost my confidence. My rehab specialist says we won’t know until we try. He means I won’t actually recover properly until I go back to work. The neurons that fire together, wire together – he keeps saying.
While you wait for season two, here’s an inspiring story from a father and daughter about their first backpacking adventure. As they hike into Utah’s Bryce Canyon in late November, things don’t go according to plan. But they both emerge positive about being pushed to the edge by nature’s unpredictability. This story comes from HumaNature, a Wyoming Public Media podcast that tells real stories about humans in the natural world. You can find them wherever you get your podcasts, or humanaturepodcast.org.
A quick update about what’s been happening since we released season one. We’re planning for a second season but need your help. It’s about how getting off screens back outside and into the natural world can change the brains of young people.
Indie podcast Out There explores big questions through intimate stories outdoors. In this award-winning episode, producer Sam Anderson goes hunting for the first time and finds it confronting. And as a vegetarian, so did I. But Sam explores his questions around what it takes to pull the trigger. Are we all capable of it? And if we can take a life, what does that say about us? How does Killing an animal change us?
Coming soon: A narrative documentary series about how going out into the natural world changed my brain. Music is Trail Runner by Blue Dot Sessions (www.sessions.blue)
This narrative podcast series recreates the intensities of my experience, using rich sound design. Loud cafes, bars, social gatherings, my kids – all were unbearable. But the sounds of nature had the opposite effect.