If everything goes according to plan (which we all know it never does), this post will be publishing itself while I am at or on my way to this scenic location, Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga National Park.
I was attracted to this particular location when I read on the Internet that, in addition to access via a 1.75-mile hiking trail, the falls could also be reached using a wooden boardwalk from a nearby parking lot.
This easy access appeals to me because I have balance problems and sometimes use a cane, as well as because I seldom leave the house and have difficulty walking any distance. My husband encourages me to get out and walk, reminding me that exercise is good for depressive episodes, but just getting out of the house for doctors’ appointments and a few errands leaves me with no spoons for recreational walking. It’s a pretty dreary life, though there is a nice window in my study, through which I can see shrubs and trees, the occasional hummingbird or squirrel, or that stupid bird that sometimes flies straight into the glass and bonks itself silly.
There were actually tears in my eyes when I mentioned the expedition to Dan.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
“Would you drive a long way with me to do something that requires very little time to do?”
“What do you want to do?”
“See this waterfall,” I said, pointing at the screen. I explained about the parking lot and the boardwalk.
“How far is it?”
“Near Cleveland. About three hours. Each way.”
It sounded ridiculous even as I said it. A six-hour drive to walk a very short distance and look at a waterfall.
“We could stop along the way to get something to eat. Or we could pack a picnic. You could bring your camera and take nature photos.”
I needn’t have worked so hard to make it sound attractive. Getting out of the house to go see something scenic and outdoors is something my husband has been longing for us to share.
Naturally, as soon as we agreed to go, my brain went into overdrive, doing my usual job of trying to anticipate everything. We would need to GoogleMap directions, of course. We would need some kind of waterproof bag with cold packs and bottles of water. Bandanas to moisten and wipe our sweaty brows (the temperature will likely be in the 80s and I don’t do well in heat). Bug spray. My cane and maybe a walking stick for him. At times like this, I tend to plan the Normandy Invasion.
This is a ridiculous idea/plan. After the last month and a half I’ve had, it’s a wonder that I’m not just crouched in a corner going beeble-beeble-beeble. But if it works, we may make the same drive in a few weeks to go to a horticultural center and canopy walk, if only so I can make the old, bad joke (You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think) and we can meet up with some Cleveland-area friends we haven’t seen in far too long.
So. Getting out. Exercise. Nature. Relaxation. Fresh air. No computer access. Potential socializing. I don’t know whether these things will have any actual positive effects, but I like to think that my therapist will be proud of me.
Never mind that there are plenty of places nearer – even locally – to walk short distances and see nature. Never mind that my therapist often recommends that I take baby steps. This is a baby step. For God’s sake, I used to be able to hike in the Adirondacks. To travel. To Europe. By myself.
I don’t know why I was able to do that then, but can’t now. Bipolar disorder didn’t strike me suddenly, after I had done all those things. Maybe back then I was better at functioning. Maybe life and bipolar had not yet overwhelmed my ability to cope. Maybe I was in remission (or whatever they call it). Maybe I was hypomanic. It’s a mystery to me.
But maybe, just maybe, I can take this baby step toward reclaiming some of the things that used to bring me pleasure. It’s about damn time.