Everyone has a “health journey” – maybe mine can benefit yours. Here’s my story, the discoveries that changed me, and the guidance and education that brought me to them. My hope is that sharing my experience will encourage anyone else facing similar challenges.
Life Before The Reset
In early 2017, I came to Skyterra for a ten-week stay. It was a big commitment, but I needed big changes. At the time, I was struggling mentally and physically with a mix of old trauma and new grief.
A little bit of background – I had experienced a tough mental and physical health episode as a teenager. At that time, I tried everything to recover: 12-step programs, therapy, physician recommendations, medication, mental health facilities. I eventually stabilized, but in 2016, my father passed away. The loss spurred unhealthy coping habits that created new wounds and reopened old ones.
I had been in a dark place before, but it was much worse this time. I would have gone anywhere, done anything, or paid any amount to feel better. So I threw myself into Internet searches and stumbled upon the idea of a wellness retreat. I wanted to improve my body, but more importantly, help heal the broken heart and spirit at its core.
I found Skyterra right when I needed it the most. The staff members and the experience as a whole taught me more valuable lessons than I ever expected.
Lesson 1. Balance
My first week was a rough one; I started over-committed and tried to do too much (against the advice of staff). When we walked, I tried to run. If we had to do 20 sit-ups, I went for 30. I threw myself into too many high-intensity classes, thinking, “If I get thin all my problems will fix themselves.” I overexerted to the point of illness.
With the support of my health coach, we found a more suitable schedule that incorporated more relaxation, mental health sessions, stress management classes, and outdoor recreation like fly fishing (really, it's fantastic for your peace of mind). Grounding yoga practices and restorative meditation made a world of difference, too.
Lesson 2. Wisdom
At the start, I had a lot of un-learning to do. So many of the physical and mental health “rules” I thought were true turned out to be totally bogus. Once I abandoned what I thought I knew, I began to understand. Little by little, I stopped seeing my body as a dungeon I was trapped in and started to see it as a home I could be comfortable in and continually improve.
Through conversations with staff, lectures, and activities, I began learning about my body, how it works, how to listen to it, how to take care of it, how to learn from it, how to love it (even when I still want to improve it) and noticed a new comfort in my own skin.
Lesson 3. Peace
Still grieving the loss of my dad and racking my brain with ‘what ifs’ and regrets, I needed help sorting out all of the thoughts and feelings moving through me. Over the course of my stay, classes and one-on-one sessions helped me learn to miss my dad without letting grief take over everything. I learned gratitude for what we had and acceptance for what we did not. I found ways to honor my dad in my new healthy life.
There’s still more healing to do, but I would not have arrived at my current sense of peace without the guidance to change my understanding.
Lesson 4. Self-Compassion
Sorting through layers of emotions brought me face-to-face with an underlying truth: I had terrible self-image. But with the help of staff and support from other guests, I broke the cycle of fixating on the negative.
I had spent a lifetime assuming the worst about myself. When you see yourself like this, the self-loathing never ends. I'm learning to stop comparing myself to others and to see my own positive characteristics. This is self-compassion at work.
Lesson 5. Perspective
The team encouraged me to choose a goal as a capstone experience at the end of my stay; I chose a 20 mile-day of hiking. I knew it would be a challenge, but one I could face by making a plan and following through. Still, I doubted myself. I thought the staff was overconfident in me. I thought I wasn’t going to be ready. Everything was going to hurt and I would be bored.
When I completed those 20 miles, in good physical and mental shape (hours before I thought I would!) it represented my whole new perspective on life.
As my stay ended, I knew I was ready for a life change. I ended up joining the Skyterra team again, this time as a staff member.
I frequently get asked, “Skyterra – what’s that?” It's the place that gave me my life back. It’s a place of healing where the staff helps you understand your starting point, the things you’re doing right, and ways to improve in areas where you need help. They worked with me to grow mental, emotional, and physical wellness so I could feel comfortable in my body and start loving the life I have.
If the path you’re on is anything like mine, I encourage you to take the time and effort to invest in yourself. Life can get better, and you deserve it.