For 17 years, I suffered in silence.
Scrutiny, every time I saw my reflection.
Shame, every time I undressed.

My only escapes from the incessant scolding of my inner critic were alcohol, drugs, and a heavy dose of powerful antidepressants that behaved not unlike the recreational uppers I was so fond of: sped up my heart rate, culled my appetite.

Here’s the rub: I was not depressed. Ask anyone who knew me then, or knows me now. I’m all smiles and laughs and songs and enthusiasm. I am, and always have been, absolutely in love with my life, the people in it, and the amazing things I get to experience.

One afternoon in my downtown Seattle apartment, after a particularly upsetting binge, with hot, salty tears streaming down my face and a steely gaze into my own reflection, I muttered, “Enough.” It took me another 5 years to unravel the deeply ingrained, tightly-woven fabric of believing I was not skinny enough, pretty enough, good enough, or worthy of love.

I didn’t heal through talk therapy with a psychiatrist. I didn’t heal through prescription medication or supplements. I didn’t heal through finding the perfect diet or working out or even getting my master’s degree in nutrition.

I healed in the mountains. I healed in the forests and lakes and meadows...without mirrors, or heavily styled, airbrushed models on billboards, or uni-size mannequins in storefront windows, or women’s magazines promising relief from self-loathing with their new, fail-proof diet plan. I healed in the wilderness, where animals and plants simply grow and explore and have no sense of shame.

This is an invitation. To come outside with me. To leave the manufactured stresses and artificial pressures of city life behind, to find out who you really are and to feel the freedom of being yourself. Everyone’s wilderness experience is different, but I can promise you this:

You are enough. You are beautiful. You are worthy of love.