Scaling Mountains - Overcoming Obstacles (and New Englands peaks) During the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Scaling Mountains - Overcoming Obstacles (and New Englands peaks) During the Covid-19 Pandemic

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During the pandemic, I was lucky that I didn't lose anyone close to me. I know many people around me and in the world who watched their loved ones die from COVID-19. It has also had long-lasting health effects on many people as well. It is an ongoing conversation because people are still contracting the virus daily. Lockdown was a surreal moment for many in our ordinarily fast-paced world. The entire world stopped, and for once, we couldn't rely on our usual entertainment and schedules for distraction. This led to the development of new habits, which, unfortunately for me, were not just board games and binge-watching Netflix.

Alcoholism had been at my doorstep since my senior year of high school, with my dependence on the substance worsening as the years passed. This is a genetic condition, and I have had countless family members struggle and die because of substance abuse, mainly alcohol. When the pandemic hit, I drank nearly every day, and this continued during lockdown with my roommate and a few friends. Not only was this dangerous because of the spreading pandemic, but it also worsened my mental health. Soon, my college shut down, and I had to move back home, where my substance abuse continued. My relationship had fallen apart when my ex moved back to India as he was on a student visa. The drinking and emotional isolation/strife led to a breakdown wherein intrusive suicidal thoughts plagued me. Something had to change; one night, I quit all substances and contacted my PCP about a mental health evaluation. I know my diagnosis was wrong, but it got me on the medication I needed to forget the intrusive thoughts and piece my life back together.

My saving grace was my father and, eventually, my friends, who decided to pick me up and give me a distraction. This distraction became hiking mountains, a shared hobby of previous substance abusers. The chemicals released in the brain during these hikes and the physical exercise filled the void alcohol used to. It served it and began to heal the void left by years of mental health struggles and abuse. Like in this picture, the world's problems and my own seemed small when I was on top of a mountain. Not only that but also hiking is a very social-distance-friendly activity. The love for hiking fostered in my childhood was rekindled during the pandemic and remains one of my favorite things to do. My father and I are attempting to walk up all New England's notable peaks.

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This item was submitted on October 12, 2023 by Reese Donaldson using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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