A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

Camino Forum Donation

Mental Health Issues

beiramar

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Português, Camino del Norte, Fisterra,
All of the threads here deal with fisical health issues and I was missing a discussion about psychic problems and the camino.

I already did a camino and from what I experienced there and read in this and other forums, it seems to me that these issues are almost a taboo.

The reason for a peregrination often is unhappiness with the current living conditions and search for an inner change. So it might be almost logic that not everyone is profoundly equilibrated and in mental peace.

I found the camino more psychical than fisically demanding. A huge part of how you feel is decided in your head...

Would you recommend doing the camino to someone who suffers from a depression/ panic attacks/ or other disorders?
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
A very interesting question. As a social worker in mental health / psychiatry I would say it will all depend on your stress level and self acceptance. If one' s situation, wether it is medical or psychological, is stable and with the help of decent medication. If one has a helpline , a person who you can call at certain times or a companion/ buddy who you can talk to en route ( and who is equipped to help out ) I would give it a go. Stable mental problems or like stable physical issues : structure and time to rest, maybe use more private accomodations than albergues..., structure also in eating habits, staying away from alcohol. For example a stable patient with a depression who has enough selfknowledge can walk the Camino like a diabetes patient who could walk the Way. With extra caution and helpline but yes it is possible. I would not recommend the Camino for those patients with florid psychoses or someone in the early stages of a major depression.
Structure , structure, taking one's time and having a lifeline, compagnon de route...And assessment of the specific stresslevels.
 

+@^^

Active Member
hello beiramar
mental health issues are not easily discussed by those that are not sufferers
so if i told you i was an addict and bipolar
this might make others feel uncomfortable
.
there seens to be an elevation to heroism of those with physical disabilities doing the camino
but people generally look the other way when mental illness is spoken of
i am proud of having tackled the camino with my mental challenges
i also celebrated 5 years sobriety on the walk
a fairly big private victory for me
.
so if you want to raise this discussion in a public forum, i'm up for it
if not, youre welcome to PM me
.
so - if you are stable in your meds
and if you feel confident in yourself
and if your psdoc gives the go ahead
.
if not, you run the risk of having a wobble at an unconvenient time
and where you might not have access to meds of psdoc help
and in a language where you need to be able to express what youre experiencing
.
i took backup meds
+ a full script from my psdoc
+ a translation of the script into Spanish
+ a copy of the script emailed to myself
,
i knew that excessive physical or emotional exertion could possibly trigger an episode
and i wanted to lessen the odds of that happening a long way from my support base
.
other than some basic precautions
i am just a regular pilgrim
trying to make good
and find my way back home
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Eloquently said, tamtamplin. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

I think peregrinos are seekers. What we seek and how we do it is embedded in the context of our own lives and is certainly ours to share or not share.

We all love to go on about our physical complaints - blisters, muscle aches, tendonitis, diarrhea. Not so with mental health issues. The reticence for us not to dislose and others not to ask about mental health challenges is mirrored in society at large, isn't it? And you are, as tamtamplin points out, identified by that mental health issue once it's disclosed. So no, not much in the way of help on that front unless one is very brave. Although should a person with a mental health condition run into difficulties, we would offer aid and support just as we do for those with physical injuries.

I think all of us "walk" our own camino, in our own time, for whatever distance, and by whatever means necessary. I wouldn't presume to advise against walking a camino for anyone. That said, for anyone with either a physical or mental health condition, I would, and have strongly recommended that they consult with their physician prior to planning one.
 

beiramar

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Português, Camino del Norte, Fisterra,
As this is a quite anonymus context, I feel free to share what's bothering me.

SabineP said:
If one has a helpline , a person who you can call at certain times or a companion/ buddy who you can talk to en route ( and who is equipped to help out ) I would give it a go.
It was exactly that, what I most missed on the caminho I did... It was my first one, so I didn't know I might need it badly.

SabineP said:
Stable mental problems or like stable physical issues : structure and time to rest, maybe use more private accomodations than albergues..., structure also in eating habits
Structure , structure, taking one's time and having a lifeline, compagnon de route...And assessment of the specific stresslevels.
You are so, so right with everything you said!!! I'm really happy about your answer, that helps me a lot. Being alone, I lost all my structure in daily habits (I don't even have a lot of structure at home :roll: ). I feel like your answer is one of the keys, to feel better on a future caminho. Thank you.

tamtamplin said:
so - if you are stable in your meds
and if you feel confident in yourself
and if your psdoc gives the go ahead
You might have a lot more severe background than I, but refering the part of the psychologist I disagree with you.
Psychologists are also just normal humans, they might have learned about behaviours and illnesses for some years at an university, but this doesn't make them persons able to judge everything.
First of all they don't really know you, they know an image you gave them; they possibly don't understand many things you tell, or just receive them in another way, according to their personal experiences; they possibily have no clue about particular activities you do/want to do.
-> What I want to say with that: I (personally) would never rely upon a positive/negative statement from a psychologist, in relation to something like a peregrination.
[I had a therapist with whom I talked a lot about my problems in relation to surfing, a sport that I exercise on a regulary base since many years. I only gave me absolutely shitty advices and after some time I found out he had absolutely NO IDEA what kind of sport we were talking about (which was important, dealing with fears of drowning in rageous sea etc.)]
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Beiramar,

Nice to read my words could be of some help. You are right of course that a psychiatrist / psychologist's personality is of great influence in the realisation of a good and fulfilling professional relationship between him/ her and his client ( I personally do not like the word patient because a person with mental issues is more than " just " a patient ). Then again psychiatry is not an exact science. In this view a cardiologist or surgeon has an easier job. Eg. : High blood pressure can be solved with this or that medication but with mental issues it is much more a question with hit and miss when it comes to finding the right meds.

Edit : also regarding structure. It may sometimes be boring to have a predictable life but the structure you gain with this makes it possbible to organise your life more and again lessen the stress. And limited physical excercises ( including walking ) have definitively a positive outcome on one's mental wellbeing.
I hope you will keep finding gentle and understanding people on your way...
If you want to pm me regarding some issues I'm here. Cheers.
 

Arn

Moderator
Staff member
Beiramar observed: I found out he had absolutely NO IDEA what kind of sport we were talking about (which was important, dealing with fears of drowning in rageous sea etc.)
This is so very true and that's why it's important to find a psydoc that can relate:

As a Marine, I'm already convinced that there's nothing I can't do given the proper resources and authority; therein lies the problem. Who does a Marine, or any military person, go to when there's the possibility of stress related issues? What we find is that PostTraumaticStressDisorder is the most common issue, therefore the psydocs treating that are basically just wearing the uniform (Navy for Marines) all other services have their own medical branch.

What all psydocs can relate to is a basic understanding about stress, it's origins and usual treatment.

When I was flying there was a scale of stressful incidents with related points: Getting engaged/married/divorced 100 points. Buying a new house/boat/car 25 points. Getting a traffic ticket that morning 50 points. Having a fight with your significant other 25 points. Losing a loved one 100 points, etc. Any single incident, or combination that resulted in 100 points...you were grounded for that day and sent to speak with the psydoc as a way to vent, or upon relating the situation further treatment might be needed.

Day to day combat is a whole different ball of wax. It's said that combat is 95% boredom and 5% stark raving terror. Pretty accurate. The key is how well you're trained to accept those things that can add up during even the boring times: being away from loved ones for months at a time, not hearing from them on a regular basis, impending birth or the death of a close family member. All these add up.

Some of us, who worked in specific arenas where the normal 95 to 5 % is reversed, we had psydocs that initially came from a similar background and then became doctors. For example, the Medical Officer on my carrier had started his military career as a Marine officer and served in combat. He completed his obligation and returned to civilian life going to medical school and then returned to active duty. All my men were comfortable with him because he could relate. In another organization I was part of there was only one medical officer we could talk to; not only was he a prior Army Ranger, he had all the clearances needed to allow us to spill our guts without reservation.

This may be a whole different view of the main thread, but I believe it relates to Biermar's key insight.

One size psydoc doesn't fit all. For some of us the day to day can be a battlefield and we will all relate to it's stresses in different ways. Sometimes we can recognize the on coming threat to our mental well being and effectively deal with it. Sometimes more intervention is required, be it a support group, a trusted family member or the right psydoc.

Walking the camino in all it's guises: spiritual, religious, cheap vacation, etc. provides an opportunity to test our physical condition and inner/outer self. For some of us it's magic the Way it all works.

The hopeful end result is that we return to that stable, safe and nurturing place we internalize as Home!
 

beiramar

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Português, Camino del Norte, Fisterra,
Arn said:
When I was flying there was a scale of stressful incidents with related points: Getting engaged/married/divorced 100 points. Buying a new house/boat/car 25 points. Getting a traffic ticket that morning 50 points. Having a fight with your significant other 25 points. Losing a loved one 100 points, etc. Any single incident, or combination that resulted in 100 points...you were grounded for that day and sent to speak with the psydoc as a way to vent, or upon relating the situation further treatment might be needed.
That point scale sounds interesting to me. It might help to keep calm, when you feel really bad, without anything severe happening.

For me: Caldas de Reis-> Padrón at 30ºC + several nights of bad sleep before + not able to eat anything+ feeling lost: in that moment 50 points

I couldn't escape the vicious circle of thinking that I urgently needed rest and on the other hand being unable to let loose on my thoughts about things to come on the next hours/days.
And so I couldn't manage to rest and recover and felt completely desperate.

Today at the "Camino Xacobeo" group at Facebook they asked
"After finishing a stage, what does a pilgrim do in the afternoon?"
Somebody answered sth. like: "After having a shower and a nap, eating and relaxing with the new friends I made on the way. Getting to know the place we are and having some cool beers and a good time together."

And I thought: That's exactly what I wanted, or where I wish to go, but I just couldn't relax and make it happen.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
I found this drawing in my journal from my first Camino, and these notes. It pretty much says it all... about why I was walking. Would I call this a mental health issue? Absolutely!

I did eventually "find me" but it took several Caminos to do so. It's a continuous job, but the redundancy of walking the Camino, the peace, the certainty of what I would do next day, the kindness and understanding of most other peregrinos, the TIME I had to clear my head... all these things helped on my journey to healing, which is still in progress:
 

Attachments

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Really interesting and valuable thread here. As a mental health professional (I am a psychotherapist and clinical hypnosis practitioner) I would say that the Camino would be excellent therapy for someone suffering from depression whether that is chronic or reactive, but there are some caveats. Walking alone is therapetic. Walking with a close knot group is therapeutic. Walking alone but either avoiding or wanting to be part of a tightly knit group when access seems difficult can be very difficult. It takes time to "listen to the Camino" and to learn how to trust others to be sensitive to your moods. Some people are better avoided. The motley collection of the pilgrims in The Way are a case in point. Initially, I found it hard to be sympathetic to the woman in the film: she seemed to have such sharp edges that it is hard to imagine anyone venturing close. And as for the writer I detested his self-centred usuary to the end.
Tom's character, however, is "EveryPilgrim" and was someone I would love to have walked with.
The difficulty as far as I have seen (responses to my recent questionnaire have definitely borne this out) is not getting over those inevitable days when you snap at a fellow pilgrim and start to feel sorry for yourself: those are actually all part of the process. The difficulty is when you get home and find that life isn't like the Camino. This is especially true if you go home too soon.
This is exactly why I have been working so hard to open the Post Camino Sanctuary (cf THREADS) near Muxia so that pilgrims at the "end" of their Camino have time to reflect alone and with others, and/or with a professional (namely me) if they feel they need it. And also to "work" a little at everyday and country pursuits, or do a bit of aimless walking or listen to the sound of the river, or the waves on the beach.
One thing I would caution, and I believe it was mentioned above, DON'T leave your meds at home, and DON'T think that just because you are feeling pretty good on the Camino that you can cut them in half or not take them at all. BIG mistake. Maybe you won't notice the difference straightaway, but you sure will a couple of weeks later.
Hope some of this helps,
Tracy Saunders
http://www.pilgrimagetoheresy.com
http://www.headstartcentres.org
 

Arn

Moderator
Staff member
As Tracy indicates and offers: detox and decompression are key to reestablishing a connection with what others may consider "reality" now that you're home. The day to day on the Camino is different from that back at home and at school or work. For the most part, back home, the days are the same, the activities unremarkable, etc.

On Camino, you have a goal and, as long as your wheels work, it's attainable.

Biermar mentioned not being able to eat or sleep. I'd offer that due to the number of days spent on the CP compared to the CF...she never really got into a comfortable rhythm. She was just working out the kinks when POOF...she's in SDC and it's over.

I love this thread!
 

beiramar

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Português, Camino del Norte, Fisterra,
@annisantiago: I liked your drawing a lot. I also wrote a journal on the caminho, but I never felt like drawing, so I have no funny stuff to show.

@arn: my nickname actually is "beiramar" nothing to do with beer ;) "À beira-mar" means: "On the ocean shore" in portuguese.

And considering the Caminho Português/ Caminho Francês differences: I think on the Camino Francés there are a lot more pilgrims walking alone and open themselves.
The distance of the way might be the reason.
On the way I did, the Caminho Português, almost all pilgrims walk in groups, because it's a relatively short and easy way. In some albergues I was actually the only one on myself amongst 40 or more pilgrims, all with their wifes/husbands/ friends.
So even while walking I often felt I would interfere their privacy joining them.

@Priscillian: I already answered you in another thread about how much I appreciate your project. It sounds a really perfect idea to me and I hope everything will work out right for you to open that Post Camino Sanctuary.
It could be a place, where pilgrims could find a space to talk about their experiences/feeling during the caminho in a way that you don't have in the albergues.
Almost everyday on the caminho I thought it would be great to use the "empty" hours of the afternoon to gather (just who's interested of course) to have some discussions apart from blisters and turning on/off the light. (I don't know how to express really what I want to say in english, hope you understand from the context of this thread though)
 

+@^^

Active Member
imho
the decision to walk the camino is a big one
for anybody
and not just for persons with mental challenges
and i think that i owed it to my family especially being away for 6 weeks doing 1000 kays of the vdlp
.
and so i spoke to experts about footwear etc
and i spoke to my experts about my mental health
.
so for example their counsel included the following:
tam, youre taking lithium
lithium requires decent intake of salt at the same time
you will be exerting a lot and sweating in the 40 deg C temperatures
make sure to up your salt intake
also have a blood test immediately before departure (to measure the lithium levels)
and immediately on arrival back home
if the lithium levels are outside the agreed range
see me asap
if you feel weird on the walk, take this spanish translated script to the closest pharmacy
and ask for help
this sounded like sensible advice to me
.
because along with lifestyle, exercise, diet, sleep hygene and meds etc etc
i consider my dispensing psdoc + my talk psdoc to be closest to me
so my relationship with them is longstanding
and of absolute trust
to not have sought their counsel would have been irresponsible
so too the advice of others in my support group
.
so i might choose to ignore somebody's advice about a piece of gear
but not my psdoc when it comes to mental health
as i said
imho
 

ksam

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese '08, Frances '11, del Norte '14, Invierno '16, Ingles '17, Primitivo October 2018
This has to be one of the most beautiful threads I've ever read thru. Pilgrims are the most amazing people I have ever met. You here are some of the finest...most open...thank you all for what you've shared here. Your incredible openness is astounding. IMHO...your some of the best of the best. I have to forward this to a friend who needs to read this..and I had no proper frame of reference to help or make that particular connection, except for simply loving this person very much...and now I do, thanks to all of you. From the bottom of my heart, Gracias.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
Beiramar:

If you are looking for opinions, this is the place. In regards to the Physical or fiscal aspects of the Camino.

In regards to Peregrino's sharing their personal struggles, (Physical, fiscal, addictions or other challenges), I am even comfortable with that. That is their choice.

I do not, in my opinion, believe this is a forum to search for answers to mental health challenges one might face. While there may be qualified responders in this forum to do so, I do not believe this is the place for that type of advice.

I agree with your statement. "The reason for Peregrination often is unhappiness with current living conditions and search for an inner change". Those and many other reasons are the motivation behind many Peregrino's walking the Camino. That said, someone with more severe challenges, "depression, panic attacks or other disorders" such as you mentioned might be better served with face to face professional help. Someone who is not only Professionally trained but also competant. Not everyone who is a Phsyciatrist/Phsycologist or other mental health practitioner is necessarily good at what they do.

I wish you well in the pursuit of your answers. While I do not believe this is the right forum, my opinion is just one of many here.

Ultreya,
Joe
 

beiramar

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Português, Camino del Norte, Fisterra,
I never asked for help considering my personal case, nor am I the person that suffers from "depression, panic attacks and other disorders".
I just wanted to open discussion on this topic, because I wanted to share opinions with other pilgrims.
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
jpflavin: with respect I think you are no doubt unintentionally somewhat stigmatising and marginalising mental health issues by saying that "this is not the place to discuss them". I don't think that anyone was discussing mental health issues. I think some pilgrims were agreeing that such things as depression and panic attacks can be just as prevalent on the Camino as bedbugs and blisters, but that these things are "not spoken of" here. My own feeling is it is this type of thinking which causes those who do have a proclivity towards anxiety or depression to bottle it up. Why not discuss it here? This section is about "medical issues on the Camino": depression, anxiety are medical issues, caused by an imbalance in the brain's neurotransmitters. Correctable through medication and cognitive and behavioural therapy, or maybe just a walk in the fresh air! The idea that somehow they only happen to "emotionally unbalanced" people went out with the last century. Mental issues are just as physiological as physical ones are and therefore DO belong here in this very courageous thread.

The Camino will cause anyone to become introspective, that is one of its beauties, and if the pilgrim has come because they are at a crossroads in their life - and this is often the case - depression, doubt, fear, anxiety may surface. If they do in an atmosphere of common caring and sharing then ALL involved may benefit. We are talking about common aspects of mental health here (20% at least of the population will experience a majorclinical depression in their lifetime: 1 in 5), not something needing extensive medication or hospitalisation! In my experience, pilgrims are by and large VERY supportive of each other at such normal times as when the Camino becomes a bit too much. And it happens to all of us. The help a pilgrim can get simply by being loved and accepted along the Way is infinitely superior to that given by any "mental health professional": and I am one!
http://www.headstartcentres.org
 

PILGRIMSPLAZA

Active Member
beiramar said:
Would you recommend doing the camino to someone who suffers from a depression/ panic attacks/ or other disorders?
A very good question which I had to deal with in my job in a tourist club giving information to our members on pilgrimage.
Around 1994 when the Dutch Pelgrimspad was issued one very special pilgrim became my role model and source of inspiration. She walked from The Hague (then also her town) to SdC and back in 54 weeks. In our company magazine she wrote how on X-mas eve she knocked on the door of a convent and was sent away: completely soaked, starving and desparate. At the time there were no cell phones. She's been back to SdC and Spain several times but now has 'disengaged' completely from the subject so we don't talk about it anymore...
So, when new pilgrims phoned more often and I got to know them a little better and noticed that they wanted to get rid of certain mental problems that are discussed here, I would tell from experience that these problems could get bigger instead of smaller on a pilgrimage, and then what...?
Once a young woman kept calling almost daily with all kinds of questions and problems. Her name was Daphne and she sounded like a Daphne and I bet she looked like a Daphne. I got the impression that she did not really want to go so I advised her to talk to her father about her plans and she never phoned again. I still wonder what happened...
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Putting my money where my mouth is (and there is a foot or two in there already as most of you already know), I just posted this on Facebook. I think it is highly relevant to this discussion:

via Refugio Acacio E Orietta
Something occurred to me while watching this video: If 2012 will be the beginning of a new world consciousness - and I think it will - then The Camino is a short cut. Ultreia y Suseia todos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdI-C-e-fU4

Beautiful video and soundtrack: "Whatever life life will do; I am here for you..."

http://www.pilgrimagetoheresy.blogspot.com
http://www.pilgrimagetoheresy.com
http://www.headstartcentres.org
 

Beverley

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2009, Camino Portuguese 2010, Del Norte 2011, Pamplona to Burgos and Santiago to Finnesterra 2012
Hey Pris Ijust viewed the video, thanks for posting it. I did my third Camino this year alone, Del Norte , and realized how different walking alone is. I loved meeting the wonderful people I met and I truly felt the message of the Camino through solitude. The lovely message on the video "Think of me..." not me as me-Bev-in-this- post, but "Me" as the Camino, is so comforting when back home. In my personal experiences of my Caminos coming home is difficult primarily because there are few here who appreciate the value of solitude and no one close by who has experienced walking the Caminos of Spain. Thanks Ivar for this forum.
I too suffer from depression, managed well by meds for over 20 years. I hope that some who read this thread understand that life continues to expose us to all kinds of challanges and at the same time all kinds of gentle healing opportunities. The Camino is for those who search, not necessarily for a cure, but certainly for insight into one's self through solitude as well as companionship with self, others and Spirit.
We all have baggage, we all take it with us, some are fortunate enough to leave it on The Way, most of us bring it back but in a new light. We are our own healers.

Blessings
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I get clinically depressed. I was that way when I last walked the Frances, and I found it a profoundly lonely time.
Much good came from the experience, but I know how harrowing it can be when your mental condition isolates and alienates you from the merry, sweet, mystical pilgrims around you -- they are having the time of their lives and are really connecting to one another. You are walking the same path, seeing their joy, but have a few feet of insulating numbness between you and them. Very sad.
People more profoundly depressed would find it intolerable.
You may NOT find peace or release or friendship or recovery out there. Do NOT go to the camino looking for any kind of healing, or you will be disappointed. Don´t expect anything from it.

The healing comes when you quit trying. Even then sometimes it doesn´t happen. Sometimes not for another few months, or years -- or in a form completely different from what you expect.

If you are really ill, think twice before taking on the camino. It is a really difficult undertaking even for people who are healthy. You are putting yourself into a strange and challenging environment, and you may not be able to handle it. The Camino is NOT for everyone, no matter what the jolly people say... and there is no shame in stopping if it gets too much for you.

That is why there are "puertos de perdon" all along the track for people who cannot continue. They show that the Lord still loves you and there still is grace for you, no matter how far you walk on whichever trail -- that God is a whole lot bigger than Santiago, and you don´t have to "achieve" anything to win his love. That there is special grace for his children who suffer this way.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
I do not believe "My Opinion" in any way stigmatizes or marginalizes mental health challenges. I also "in my opinion" do not believe that depression and panic attacks are as prevalent as bed bugs and blisters (possibly a bad analogy).

I do believe that depression, panic attacks and other mental health challenges require a different type of treatment than blisters or bed bug issues. That treatment, in my opinion, should be delivered by trained professionals like the medication which is dispensed by a professional.

It is still my opinion that this is an issue for patient and trained professional unlike a blister or bug bite. A topic when discussed in an opinion forum could unintentionally be harmful and as I stated my opinion is one of many here.

Ultreya,
Joe
 

beiramar

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Português, Camino del Norte, Fisterra,
jpflavin1 said:
A topic when discussed in an opinion forum could unintentionally be harmful and as I stated my opinion is one of many here.
I don't think anyone has written anything that could be considered as harmful to others, so far.

If you and "many others" have communicated about not liking this thread- then don't read it, and it won't make you any harm.
Make a topic like that a taboo, is isolating persons and almost judging this kind of problems as something forbidden.
Here are "many others" who probably find it consoling and it gives them courage to read something like that:

Much good came from the experience, but I know how harrowing it can be when your mental condition isolates and alienates you from the merry, sweet, mystical pilgrims around you -- they are having the time of their lives and are really connecting to one another.
You are walking the same path, seeing their joy, but have a few feet of insulating numbness between you and them. Very sad.
This kind of "confession" you more likely find here, than on the camino. And it's good to know, one it not alone with this kind of feelings.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
What I like about this forum is the kind, gentle and civil way of communicating. I have seen other fora...
Now, regarding the subject of mental health : it is a story of " and and ". Good therapeutic relationship with your gp/ counsellor ( if required ), a strong network ( friends, families,significant others ), taking care of your physical health, etc... AND safe havens as this forum... . Sure only taking into account advice from a forum is not the way to go but I genuinely think that this thread proves how wise the advice can be.
 

+@^^

Active Member
my reason for joining this site
was to learn from the experiencec of others
specifically the insights and opinions of those that had actually been there
so when i offer a view on mental conditions on an exacting spiritual path
i do it to pass on my experience and hope
to others that might follow in my footsteps
.
i do not try to convince anybody about my truth
i try not to criticise or judge anybody else' truth
i just put it out there
so that somebody who can identify with my position
can read something that might assist in a safer camino
.
so
i believe i am fortunate to be an alcoholic and bipolar
it has given me insights that i would not otherwise have received
and it is posible that this made my camino richer
imho
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
A coyness has slipped into this thread that is a contra-variation of "ignore the issue, and it will go away." It borders on "discussion is therapy." Discussion is, of course, just discussion.

Because words are chosen carefully in posts, I don't think any of us can discern if a post is a discussion or a cry for help. Many calls to crisis centers begin with "a friend of mine is contemplating suicide." Volunteers are trained to offer a sympathetic ear while they determine whether professional intervention is needed. Mishandling a call can have tragic results. Mishandling a post in this forum could have similar results.

The subject at hand is not one that is normal to the Forum. Blisters, backpacks, and advice on maintaining attitude are the general subjects. When serious mental illness issues are brought up, amateur advice can be harmful. There is a modern trend to get advice from Dr. Phil on television, as if one solution will fit all circumstances. It is a trend that serves us poorly, like most "reality" TV. The only correct advice to someone suffering from mental illness is to seek professional help. Therapy from what is essentially a travelogue just isn't therapy.

Every pilgrim has strong motivations whether they admit them publicly or not. It takes some grit to walk 750 km. The motivations run the gamut. Ultramarathoner Jenny had an athletic motivation (total running time = 4 days, 15 hours, and 14 minutes). A lot of us just like to get away to let life unfold one step at a time. Others are profoundly Catholic. No doubt there are some who are trying to cure diagnosed mental illness. The Camino has something to offer each of them. However, posts that discuss the Camino and those that discuss ourselves are qualitatively different. I personally find this thread very troubling, and I hope it does more good than damage.
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Mishandling a call can have tragic results. Mishandling a post in this forum could have similar results.
I am in complete agreement here with Falcon. I think we all have to be very aware of the delicate nature of the subject at hand. Rebekah is right: The Camino is not for everyone, in general. Seeing all those jolly Brasilians can make one feel even more lonely. I write this because it is exactly how I felt for the first 100 klms of my first Camino, that is until I let Andrea the German pilgrim into my life in Monjardin. That took a leap of faith. It was worth it. But with even more groups walking the Camino Frances now, it certainly can be a lonely trek.
On the other hand I have seen pilgrims "with issues" turn their lives around by the simple act of embracing simplicity and becoming open to the love and concerns of others.
But let's all be careful how we express our opinions here, and I include myself in this caveat.
TS
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I understand the concerns expressed. Interesting that the concerns arise from America. It is a place where offering advice, however kindly meant, can eventually send you to trial or even jail. If a truly sick person misreads or misconstrues what you say, and it leads to awfulness and destruction, "justice" comes to your door and you are made responsible for the sick person´s actions.

There are a lot of "ifs" in that equasion, but the outcome is a society where common people are frightened to death of offering advice, kindness, assistance, and a listening ear... caring could cost them dearly in the future. "Justice" has taken many actions once termed "works of mercy" out of the realm of human decency and locked them in the grasp of "trained and qualified professionals."

Asking for help is risky. Offering help is even riskier sometimes. We have become so risk-wary we are forgetting how to be kind to one another.

Risk is scary stuff in a world where Health And Safety Enforcement are icons of "civilization." Maybe that is why good people here on the Forum are made uncomfortable by the risk-taking going on in this thread. They have nothing against ill people... they just don´t want the kind people who help them to be hurt, if the sick people take it all wrong.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone...

I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.
Admonitions that predate modern tort law by nearly 2,500 years, and the existence of America by two millenia. I doubt it was prompted by a fear of lawyers.
 

+@^^

Active Member
so hows this ....
today 10 October is International Mental Health Day
so be kind
.
and the guys who can write propper do it much better than me...
.
"Mental health is not limited to a mere absence of disease; it is much more than that. You may not have any mental disorder but still lack mental health. Mental health is an inner state of psychological bliss and well-being."
.
that sounds like something to be aspired to on the camino
.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health/World-mental-health-day-2011-Top-5-issues/articleshow/10299067.cms
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
I don't know about the "bliss" bit but I agree about the well-being.
I teach both Abnormal and Health Psychology at the A level and one of the first things we explore is "What is Health?"
The World Health Organization defines Health as:
“Health is not only the absence of infirmity and disease but also a state of physical, mental and
social well-being
.” (Emphasis mine.)
Bliss I save for rare moments when I and the Universe seem to be going in the same direction.
Even so, today is also Canadian Thanksgiving Day so I am counting the things I am thankful for. One is a sense of humour (often necessary on this Forum); the other is my mental health, oft hard fought for and never taken for granted.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and Happy Mental Health Day!
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
I've come rather late to this discussion and I'm sorry about that.

It seems to me that peer to peer support is at the heart of our pilgrim world. We help each other along the Camino in all sorts of ways. Peer to peer support has also been at the heart of approaches to mental health for many years now. Indeed patient led treatment initiatives whereby patients themselves discuss and determine the best course of action from their experience is a spreading movement.
Therefore when someone raises a question about mental health I think we should wait until someone with relevant experience answers them. This is how we react when someone says “I have diabetes and wondered how others with this condition coped on the camino?” Mental health issues are no different.
Mental ill health is amongst us – there will be few members or readers of this forum whose lives or the lives of those close to them have not been affected in some way. A very significant percentage of the 180,000 (estimate) people who will walk the Camino this year have either had, continue to have or will have mental health problems. I am certain that many of them will have wanted to ask questions to find out how others with the same issues as them coped/got on/prepared.
Then of course there is the range of technical questions which people may wish to ask – from how Spain treats advanced directives in mental health to how do I get treatment/blood tests/renewed scripts if I feel ill/lose my medication/want to stay longer than my current meds allow? Generally speaking little is known about the quality of mental health services in Spain and much reassurance could be given when questions are asked.
Questions people have about mental health issues are no different from other issues – let’s not respond to someone’s question by telling them they shouldn’t be asking it, let’s just wait until someone with relevant experience answers it. If we don’t the danger is that we get caught up in a debate about whether such questions should be raised rather than giving space and freedom for questions to be asked and answered. Peer to peer support, pilgrim to pilgrim support- it is how it works.

Best wishes

John
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Thank you John.

L
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Jul-Aug 05, Frances, Jul-Aug 06, Portugues, Oct 2010
Thanks John. You've just said what I wanted to say with much more eloquence than I'd have managed.

I approached my second Camino having narrowly avoided a nervous breakdown. In my case (and I can't stress enough that everyone's circumstances are unique) I found the simplicity of the Camino's rhythm fantastically therapeutic, and I emerged the other end in a much better state of mind.

This isn't something I'd normally choose to share; however I agree that by not talking about mental health issues we are stigmatising them, making it harder for people living with these conditions to seek help.
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
This is a remarkable thread, and one which I I have little to offer at this time; nonetheless, I think it is a discussion we need to have

I keep drifting back to a dinner we shared with a European lawyer. He took off to walk the Camino. His wife, his business partners, no one could quite understand why he did it. He latched on to us that night , perhaps because we were similar---getting up in years, similar resumes, out there in Spain, as pilgrims. He didn't know what he wanted, only that his perspective had changed and he could not go back to the world from which he came.

I have no idea what became of him, I just know that there are many people out there dealing with issues, good and bad, with many answers and questions. The more we understand that, the better a pilgrim we will be.
 

MichaelB10398

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
The Camino is demanding in so many different ways. Mental health and physcial health are similar; the more out of shape we are the more unprepared we are for the Camino. Those of poor health may go on the Camino, but probably should consider it in stages. Going for a few days to one week at a time is advisable. Trying to take the whole Camino at once could pose some very difficult times and trigger responses that are untreatable on Camino.

If you go for a short period and can handle it, extend it MODERATELY. You will not become superman overnight. Be capable of knowing your limits and stopping when it is time.

Honest self-evaluation on a daily basis is healthy for everyone. Some of us just need to be more diligent and proactive.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
Asking a fellow pilgrim where he found diabetes supplies is completely different than asking him whether you should stop taking your diabetes medicine. It would be extremely dangerous to take any advice on the latter subject unless it is "consult your physician." I second guess my doctors all the time by consulting the internet for other patients' experiences, but I don't take advice from unqualified strangers. There are some on the forum who are practicing medicine without a license. :D :D
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
My fellow Pilgrims:

Would you recommend doing the camino to someone who suffers from a depression/ panic attacks/ or other disorders?[/quote]

My comments have not been made to marginalize or stigmatize Mental health issues. They have been made in response to the above question. While there may be some qualified people on this forum to answer this question, the vast majority in my opinion are not. This is a health professional patient question, in my opinion.

There has been some wonderful sharing in this thread. If someone chooses to share their personal challenges, I have no problem with that. It is also true that Mental health challenges are faced by many in all aspects of life including the Camino. That said, comments that try to equate their prevelance to bug bites and blisters are disingenuous.

I am not trying to act as a moderator by limiting topics. That said, referring to the question above only, in my opinion, I believe this question should be addressed by Health professional and patient.

Ultreya,
Joe
 
S

Sojourner47

Guest
jpflavin1 said:
My fellow Pilgrims:


While there may be some qualified people on this forum to answer this question, the vast majority in my opinion are not. This is a health professional patient question, in my opinion.

Well, I have posted on this before, but deleted them due to a negative PM received which left me thinking, "why bother?".
However, I can't let this go without comment.
I don't think anyone on here is "equating mental health issues with blisters and bed bugs"
Those of us who do suffer from depression, for example, are perhaps as well "qualified" to offer advice/experience/recollection to others, as those who've suffered blisters or bed bugs. We are all adults here, and I don't think anyone is going to be swayed one way or another about going on camino by anything said here, "qualified" or otherwise.
As far as I can see, no-one has told the OP that one SHOULD, or SHOULD NOT contemplate going on camino if one suffers from, "depression, panic attacks or other disorders" .
The subject has had a good airing, which is, after all, what this forum is all about, but you are yourself in as much in danger of pushing a controversial view as those you detract.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
I think this is a lovely, and totally appropriate thread.
I hope it stays...
 

+@^^

Active Member
agree this is an important discussion
its the principle of what and who should be shut-up
or not
and whether we have the maturity and tolerance to discuss edgy subjects
without resorting to trolling and insults
.
its no longer solely about mental health
but might get back there eventually
thanks to all those who are contributing to the richness of the discussion
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
Care should be taken to keep personal remarks out of the forum, as always.

This thread is important and meaningful to most of the people posting here. I would suggest that those who are troubled by some aspect of the thread refrain from reading and posting here.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004.SJPP-SdC-Finisterre)(1998-2012 completed in sections). Norte (2006.122km) Inglés (2009)
The original question was, would I?

I would be very hesitant on the forum to say much because there would be so much that I don't know about the individual's condition or history. I am not a mental health expert. In person, I would feel on safer ground.

My approach would be to talk about my experiences as a pilgrim, both positive and negative.

I would add that I have been on the Camino 8 times and every journey has been different and not all have been good for me.

The Camino is not a cure for all issues, but it does always teach us something about ourselves.

I would add, and I pick up the American forum member's concerns, but you need to talk to your professional about this. Would it be appropriate if I came with you? The medical professional may, of course, veto that. On the other hand they may be glad to be able to put questions directly to an experienced pilgrim as well as their patient.

I want to extend the point made about the surfing and Rebekah's point that doctors can be fearful of being sued. They understand about mental health issues; they might not have any knowledge about the Camino. In that ignorance they might well give the wrong advice. My guess is they will err on the side of caution and say, don't go, which may be the wrong advice. They might change that decision if they knew a lot more about the Camino.

If they are ignorant of the Camino they might, of course, say, off you go, without realising that the Camino is not a stroll in pleasant countryside. It is a potentially gruelling physical experience, whose physical demands may make the mental illness worse.

We, the experienced pilgrims, who have no professional training in mental health, might give out the wrong advice. Physician's can be equally in the dark about what it means to walk the Camino.

I would like to be part of a process of sharing knowledge for the mentally ill person's well-being.

I am insulin dependent diabetic and before my first Camino I took a great deal of care about making sure I stayed safe. Still do, despite my experience.

It is not unreasonable for someone with mential health issues to also be careful in their preparation. That says, ask your physican but get them to talk to an experienced pilgrim as well.

As to whether this thread should be here? Absolutely. We are learning from one another and I am glad to see that we are able to pool our knowledge, our experiences, our cautions and our hopes.

Finally, when I tell people about the Camino they are amazed that someone on insulin has done this and I get applauded for it.

May I stand on a chair and applaud those of you with mental health issues who have undertaken the Camino? You're achievement is so much greater than mine.
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Time for a little levity I think!
Lovely quote just posted on Facebook. There's a picture that goes with it but I cannot figure out how to post it!

"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, make sure first you are not surrounded by assholes."

Renshaw might like this... :mrgreen (Quick. Here come the mods. Hide!)
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
My friends - and a few family members - think and I (and anyone else like me) are complete 'looney tunes' for wanting to spend hard earned money to trek across a foreign country, day after day, carrying a backpack and sleeping with a bunch of strangers in noisy dormitories! Maybe this is the only forum we 'loonies' can fully understand each other and empathise when we start getting itchy feet!
"My name is Sil, and I am addicted to the Camino'.
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
"Doctor, the people in my family treat me like a dog."

"Well, let's talk about it, shall we. Please lie down on the couch."

"But I'm not allowed on the couch..."


My name is Tracy and I have a foot in my mouth.
 

PILGRIMSPLAZA

Active Member
sillydoll said:
... when we start getting itchy feet...
... it must be time to read Erasmus' In Prais of Folly again: "... and a third by all means must travel a pilgrim to Rome, Jerusalem, or some shrine of a saint elsewhere, though he have no other business than the paying of a formal impertinent visit, leaving his wife and children to fast, while he himself forsooth is gone to pray...." > pilgrim-books/topic5566.html :?
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Aah - Geerdt! There is no fasting in my house. For me its a case of "cook now, walk later".
I cook all my husbands meals, freeze them and colour code them for him so that all he has to do is put a hand in the deepfreeze and tick off the colour of that meal on the chart. Red for Lasagne, orange for Strogonoff, yellow for Tai chicken, brown for beef curry - etc etc. I also get pies from the local home industry shop and freeze servings of rice to go with some of the meals.
Am I mad to do this? Its a pay-off - and its worth it!
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
In my line of work...
I often have to work with other psychologists and psychiatrists. The other day I was at a hospital and met with the senior doctor there. "How do you determine who has mental health problems and who doesn't?" I asked.
"Well," said the doctor, "we fill up a bath with water and then we offer the patient a bucket, a cup and a teaspoon."
"Oh, I see," I said. "And the sane ones will choose the bucket."
"No," he replied. "The sane ones will pull the plug. Would you like a bed by the window?"
:lol:
 

Abbeydore

Veteran Member
A wonderful subject that should be in the open & yet be very careful.

I am Bi-Polar, & I start my Camino on April 1st 2012

I yesterday read 2 amazing books which are obtainable on Amazon, If you want to laugh & maybe cry you should read.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Matthew-Johnsto ... _pel_pop_1

These are a must for everyone.

If there is an imminent full moon I am likely to suffer........ the Black Dog!
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
I can think of three pilgrims who were urged on by the forum. It was strongly indicated in their posts that they had substantial mental illness. All failed, and their illness was made worse by their failure. Once again, I urge those who are not qualified to refrain from offering advice that may be more harmful than helpful. I know your hearts are pure, but your advice is not. It may be prompted by the therapeutic effects you found on a camino, but you cannot view the mental state of others through the prism of your life. You just do not know the severity of the illness of others. Only a therapist who has dealt personally with a patient can give qualified advice.

A camino is difficult. Hoping for the sympathy of others, an ill pilgrim may feel very isolated when the group is focused on their own difficulties and does not offer the support that is expected. Every one of us has met the pilgrim that was too needy or intrusive, and they almost always were shunned after their condition had become apparent. The early kindness and sympathy that is found universally in pilgrims wears thin when someone has become a burden. There are too many factors that come into play in mental illness. Meddling, no matter how well intentioned, is not the answer.
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
While I agree with Falcon to some extent, and have commented more on an earlier post he has made to the same effect above, I think perhaps we would need to make some clarifications here.

Many people suffer from depression, both clinical and reactive. That has been established. Panic attacks and phobias are legion. I should know: not only do I work with them every day but "suffer" from some of them myself! (Old joke: "Do you suffer from depression?" "No, I actually quite enjoy it!")
Anyway, my point is this. Anyone with serious mental health issues would (most likely) certainly be advised to reconsider the Camino for the reasons that Falcon gives above. We are speaking of perhaps 2 - 3% here.
However, "the rest of us" - the other 17% who are working their way out of say a broken marriage, a death in the family, an enforced career change, a disappointment in faith, life, reason... Do I have to continue? Those of us who are afraid of heights (me), closed places, and yes even strangers: the agoraphobics, claustrophobics, acrophobics - it sound so much more awful when we use the clinical terms, doesn't it.
I guess what I am trying to say in answer to Falcon's very thoughtful post is that MOST pilgrims have issues. Whether we call them "Mental Health Issues" or not is a very moot point. Just because someone is carrying Prosac or Paxil with their ibuprofin and blister cream should not indicate that perhaps they have made a wrong decision.
In Pilgrimage to Heresy, Miranda is depressed. Not clinally, not diagnosed, but she is lacking in personal "(w)holeness"; Felix is getting over the death of a loved one; Kieran is gravely ill. Even Alex - who seems to be the mainstay of the other's sanity at times - has an emotional breakdown at one point.
Look at The Way for example. Is Tom depressed? You betcha; angry too. Sara? The writer? Read almost any of the books chronicling a pilgrim´s progress and you will find characters that are searching for something, tryinmg to fill a whole in their lives. And some, of course, are out and out screwballs! That MAKES the Camino!!!
Don't you think?
In my opinion this is what Beiramar was getting at in the first place.

Every one of us has met the pilgrim that was too needy or intrusive, and they almost always were shunned after their condition had become apparent. The early kindness and sympathy that is found universally in pilgrims wears thin when someone has become a burden.
This may be true. I didn't find this when I walked first in 1999. The people I met recogbnised that being open to the "burdens" of others was part of the lessons of the Camino. If this is the way the Camino is now then perhaps it is a victim now of its own success? For that reason, I would not walk the Camino Frances again.

P.S.

Only a therapist who has dealt personally with a patient can give qualified advice.
This is pretty poor therapist. Good therapists, and I count myself amongst these, listen. We ask questions and help to steer the client towards finding answers to their own doubts and fears. We do not "give advice". I don't that is what you really meant is it Falcon?
http://www.headstartcentres.org
http://www.pilgrimagetoheresy.com
 
Reactions: Hal

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
However, "the rest of us" - the other 17% who are working their way out of say a broken marriage, a death in the family, an enforced career change, a disappointment in faith, life, reason...
That is just life, not mental illness! I don't think it is moot to distinguish between life and mental illness. Giving support and encouragement is the point of this Forum. That is a far cry from leading someone who is mentally ill to think that s/he will find a cure on the Camino. I personally find it very therapeutic to walk on the Camino, but it is not curing any underlying mental health issues. It is more a primal scream that makes me feel better. Chocolate might be just as good, and it is cheaper and less strenuous...

And Tom in "The Way" is not depressed; he is just sad. There is a clinical difference. Grief at a loss is normal; committing suicide at a loss would be mental illness. In general, experiencing emotions is not mental illness. Obsessing on the emotions might be.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
...and then there is "the nuclear option:" telling someone their mental state is not holding up and they need to go home.
I have done that three times. Two of the people were horribly offended, one of them went slamming out of the house.
Two of them, in time, got hold of me again and said that was exactly what they needed to hear. Some people who are used to being guided by therapists and psych professionals will often seek guidance from the people around them on the trail. It is their way of confirming their own instincts and validating their decisions -- two actions they have become unused to doing alone. Sometimes annoying and burdensome actions are perhaps someone waiting to be told they ought to give up and go home now, and that it´s OK if they do.
Is that giving medical advice? I don´t think so. I think it´s just giving advice. The person can take it or leave it.
... If only the people with horrific physical injuries would take advice and stop when common sense tells them to.
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
I hate to use the phrase "reading off the same page" but I don't think that Falcon and I are doing that here. While I most certainly respect Falcon's point of view (on this and many other issues) I have to remind Falcon that this was the original question:

Would you recommend doing the camino to someone who suffers from a depression/ panic attacks/ or other disorders?

It says nothing about "mental illness" at all, with or without capital letters!
Falcon also takes issue with my comment that:
However, "the rest of us" - the other 17% who are working their way out of say a broken marriage, a death in the family, an enforced career change, a disappointment in faith, life, reason...
and says
That is just life, not mental illness!
For the remaining 80%, yes it is "life". Grief over any of the things I mention is not "mental illness" in the way Falcon is discussing it. It is a movement through pain and a needed one. But neither is it "wholeness": it is "dis-ease". From a philosopher's point of view (and from the point of view of the World Health Organisation whose definition I have added in an earlier post) that is hardly "health". But that is not what I am getting at. (Another moot point.)
It is the 17% I am suggesting who may (or may not - see Rebekah above who, the dear Lord knows - sees enough of us in the course of her life) gain an inner understanding and self-acceptance on the camino.
Please can we remember just what Beiramar (and bless her for this) asked us in the first place! It was not "Should the (capital m) mentally (capital i) ill "do" the Camino?"
Finally, Falcon concludes with:

Grief at a loss is normal; committing suicide at a loss would be mental illness. In general, experiencing emotions is not mental illness. Obsessing on the emotions might be.
My point is this: What we have been trying to get at is neither of these. The "middle category", if you will, is much broader than either and more likely to be encountered on the Camino, in oneself or in one's companions.

I have tried as best I can to illustrate what (I think, and from a professional's point of view) is the difference, and to bring us all back to the original question. Unless we can move away from what to me is an obvious non-sequitur I don't really have anything else to add.TS
http://www.pilgrimagetoheresy.com
http://www.headstartcentres.org
 
Reactions: Hal

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
forgive me for droning on, but the key to all this is Compassion.

If you spend enough time on the caminos, you are going to run into people with mental problems or neuroses or disabilities. They may annoy you, or scare you, or make you peevish. They may be mildly obsessive, or completely bat-shit crazy. Underneath their behavior, they are suffering souls who need kindness or at least tolerance.
Unless they are in danger of hurting themselves or others, you just have to treat them like you would treat any other pilg: with dignity, respect, and compassion.
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Well, amen sister.

But how is this different than any other time or place in our lives? We're either compassionate or we're selfish clods.

I am the same person on the camino as I am "at home. I daresay we all are.

Aren't we?
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
I don't see compassion in ill-considered advice; I just see the ego of the adviser. Having only pointed out that pilgrims are occasionally shunned, it does not sound very pilgrim-like. I like the idealistic twist; we tolerate the intolerable. In the future I will look more kindly on the pilgrims that think donativo means free. Perhaps they are just suffering and in need of compassion. :D

I walked with a Swede who was a true class warrior. There was no slight, real or imagined, that he had suffered at the hands of the privileged class in Sweden that he would not relive every moment of his life. Most other pilgrims had their fill of him within hours, but I walked with him for two days, supplying a sympathetic ear, listening to his gripes repeatedly. Finally it was too much even for me, and I took a rest day to get away from him. Some people suck the life out of you and your pilgrimage, and I do not see the need to tolerate that.

A badly disfigured German with a face that had been consumed by fire was never included in the socialization by the dozens of fellow-Germans walking in parallel. The first time I saw him, his only dining companion was the relative walking with him. Over the course of a week, I encountered him several times along the trail, and struck up various conversations. He spoke excellent English, and was articulate on many subjects. He may have had many reasons to be "needy," but chose to be quite independent. It was a pleasure to meet him, and the pilgrims who were put off by his appearance were the ones who missed out. I would trade the Swede's company for his anytime.

All of this is peripheral to the issue of providing internet counseling to the mentally ill. I still think that it is a bad idea with potential to cause harm. I do not understand how a professional could think it is a good idea. One of America's talk shows actually caused a suicide by practicing public therapy. Many things quite correctly occur in private, and psychiatry should be one of them. It has nothing to do with stigmatizing mental illness, and has everything to do with the treatment of an individual patient.
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Falcon, dear.
If the "professional" you have mentioned in closing above is yours truly you haven't read a single word I have painstakingly written above. We are NOT talking about "psychiatry". :roll:
I give up! Honestly.
Now does anyone want to talk about blisters and bedbugs...?
 
Reactions: Hal

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
falcon269 said:
All of this is peripheral to the issue of providing internet counseling to the mentally ill. I still think that it is a bad idea with potential to cause harm.
I'm confused. Nowhere on this thread has anyone suggested that internet counselling should be provided to the mentally ill. I think the way this discussion has developed at times is an over reaction to the facts. A pilgrims asked originally :

"Would you recommend doing the camino to someone who suffers from a depression/ panic attacks/ or other disorders?"

The answer understandably from a number of people with a back ground in mental health was (paraphrased) "it depends" - with a specific recommendation from some that medical advice should be sought. Then a number of brave contributors explained their personal experience of periods of mental ill health in relation to their pilgrim experience.

The latter seemed to upset some users and sparked off what in my view is a major diversion as to whether mental health issues ought to be discussed here at all and now it seems the discussion is to be contorted yet again onto the completely unconnected subject of internet counselling for the mentally ill!

I may have missed something but I cannot find a basis for this in the thread - no one has offered a diagnosis, no one has suggested treatment or indeed changes to treatment and no one has offered internet counselling to people suffering from mental illness.

I for one am very grateful to the original poster, those who answered her point and especially those who shared their personal experience. Long may that continue.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
First of all let me say that I'm happy that the original poster could relate/agree to my answer to her post. I answered a post regarding a subject that is close to my heart and I'm happy I could give a satisfying answer to OP.

I will repeat it again and again and again : be gentle and openminded and yes also OPEN ( sorry normally I do not shout ) when it comes to matters of the head and the heart. Like so many wrote above : be full of compassion...!

Without going into details but next example : If some of my patients ( some I have known for over 15 years ) ask me if they were able to walk the Camino I would say " give it a go "...
At the same time if some of my friends, without any history in mental health problems , would ask me the same question : I would advice against it...
Again maybe out of context : I remember a certain holiday where so called " patients " and counsellors shared some bungalows in a holiday centre. We had a great laugh when the receptionist asked " a patient " if I ( the social worker ) was feeling ok because I was acting a bit "funny"... . 8)
:D
 

nousername

New Member
Only mad people think they are sane , and only sane people think they are mad.
I for one am addicted to yellow arrows :)
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
If some of my patients ( some I have known for over 15 years ) ask me if they were able to walk the Camino I would say "give it a go "...
At the same time if some of my friends, without any history in mental health problems, would ask me the same question : I would advice against it...
Sabine: thank you SO much for this. I'm still laughing. I am sure I don't have to remind you about Rosenhan's "On Being Sane in Insane Places" - a standard study for all PSYCH 100 students.
And Johnny Walker, well said.
Your Honour: The Defence rests her case.

http://www.headstartcentres.org
http://www.pilgrimagetoheresy.blogspot.com
 

Abbeydore

Veteran Member
SabineP, Thank you for your wise words, "Give it a go", Love it, doesn't mean you'll make it, just means enjoy!
ps can we have an Avatar of you or another pic, please.

Falcon, a clear head(again) ........Love it(bet that chap will remember you forever)

JW........you look like a drinker to me, but you are clearly not!, can you change your A, it's ok I'm slowly getting used to it. & wise words thank you.
 

PILGRIMSPLAZA

Active Member
What makes a pilgrim tick?

beiramar said:
Would you recommend...
I already answered that very relevant and productive question, but perhaps there is still one more aspect of pilgrimage that could be discussed in this beautiful and very interesting (What makes a pilgrim tick?) and nicely seasoned thread because it might interest more pilgrims and professionals.
In my job as tourist information councelor a long time ago I met many pilgrims (to be) and read dozens of their reports. It often struck me -beside being very original and individual- also how similar they could be in a certain way or aspect...
Evenually I noticed that sometimes somewhere on the Camino pilgrims could 'break', 'fell out of their role or character' (is that good English?) of -in the best pilgrim's tradition- being modest, easy going and taking life as it comes and instead they would get angry, impatient, discontent and behaving un-pilgrim-like, mostly for a short time and afterwards regretting it very much...
Then it struck me that these events happened more or less on the same legs of the Walk. The question 'why' has never left me and untill now I didn't get any answers, so...
Anyone?
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
instead they would get angry, impatient, discontent and behaving un-pilgrim-like. The question 'why' has never left me and untill now I didn't get any answers, so...
Anyone?
Disappointment. Closing in on the two-week mark, I always hit the wall physically and mentally, and I want to quit. I disappoint myself because I know I can go on. Naturally, I turn inward to something like sullenness, except for my anger, which I turn outward!

It goes away.
 

+@^^

Active Member
@falcon269
respect for posting stuff from the way
and for the honesty of this post
imho its big
.
i wish you the fortitude to continue
heres the deal
you take care of your fisical
and i send you my wish for your psychic
from the heart chakra
through the crown chakra
to you on the camino
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Falcon, you may want to quit but you won't. Step back from the wall and take a look at it then maybe you can just make it melt away. Visualise it and reduce it in size and then just step over it.
Sometimes it doesn't even stretch very far in either direction. Once you take a walk "off the route" you can go around it.
Or make it into a barndoor and "get a handle on it".
Take your time...
If that's advice then I stick to it!
Ultreia!!!! Animo!!! We are all here for you!!!
Tracy
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Um ... Ah ... Yes ... Right ... I guess I can see that now ... Hmmm ...
Oh shit! Never mind, Falc. You'll remember all of us next time!!! :oops:
T
 

+@^^

Active Member
shite
falcon 269
thats probably the quickest camino ever
at the time of posting earlier this afternoon
he was whinging on the camino
now hes home already
amazing what a little encouragement can do
 

andy.d

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Levante 2009
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2011
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2014
Pilgrims Way Winchester - Canterbury
Camino Ingles (Ferrol) 2015
Cistercian Way (Wales) 2016
JohnnieWalker said:
Errrr...I suspect Senor Falcon is at home and was speaking reflectively about his experience :)

I have no doubt however he will appreciate our concern about his well being.
Second week of being at home?
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Well if one person can answer for himself it is certainly Falcon but I suspect he is talking about that feeling some of us get near the beginning on a long pilgrimage - "this hurts...why am I doing this... I hate lomo...I'm homesick..." etc. A barrier we all have to get through and when we do the rewards are many.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Abbeydore said:
SabineP, Thank you for your wise words, "Give it a go", Love it, doesn't mean you'll make it, just means enjoy!
ps can we have an Avatar of you or another pic, please.

Falcon, a clear head(again) ........Love it(bet that chap will remember you forever)

JW........you look like a drinker to me, but you are clearly not!, can you change your A, it's ok I'm slowly getting used to it. & wise words thank you.

Here you go : pic of me. Now take a good look because I might delete the pic again in a couple of weeks. :lol:
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
I am getting a clearer mental image about how misunderstandings occur on the Forum! Past tense. Present tense. Active voice. Passive voice. Respond to a previous post. Make a random comment. Even without "English as a second language" issues, the exact wording of a post means different things to different readers. Misunderstandings are usually the fault of the writer, so I accept the responsibility.

I was back home on September 13. I suffer physical and mental difficulties similar to every other pilgrim. I appreciate the empathy/sympathy. I work for the government, and I am here to help.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
I clearly struggle with English even as a first language ... :roll:
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
I am currently reading Nancy Louise Frey's Pilgrim Stories. I can't imagine how I had missed it before but perhaps it was because of the title. After all, there are rather a lot of pilgrim stories out there and how could these be any different?
Actually, this book IS different and while accurate the title is also perhaps a misnomer: Pilgrim Stories: On and Off the Road to Santiago grew out of the author's Ph.D. thesis. Frey disects the foibles of pilgrims and their reasons for pilgrimage with the hand of an anthropologist who worked in many refugios as hospitalera in the mid-1990's. Mental health issues, as we have defined them in both areas, are never very far from the page.
It's a superb book and I highly recommend it to anyone with any connection at all to the Camino. It is many cuts above the usual fare. I have a feeling that my copy will have to be replaced at some time in the future as I am sure to be reading it again and again.
TS
http://www.pilgrimagetoheresy.com
http://www.pilgrimagetoheresy.blogspot.com

P.S. When I walked I stayed in refugios. Pilgrims from about 2004 onwards stay in albergues. The places are the same by and large. It is a mystery. Can anyone tell me why and when the name changed?
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I don´t know where my info comes from, but I think a refugio is small and rural, and an albergue is bigger and based in a town or city. Not all albergues are pilgrim-dedicated, and not all refuges are albergues.
 

Debinq

Active Member
hmmm
Am not sure that the size of the place nor its' location (city / countryside) has anything to do with it!
Seems to me a 'refugio' is a generic name for a place where weary pilgrims can find respite (refuge) from the elements and/or demands of the 'camino' they happen to be on, while an alberge is a Spanish word for an inn - so I s'pose a refugio can be an alberge (if it's run as one, i.e a place for pilgrims) but not all alberges are necessarily refugios.

seems reasonably straight-fwd to me .... could be wrong of course! Ha

happy trails
Peter
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
I never hear people in Spain refer to refugios except in relation to shelters for homeless people. In the pilgrim world in my experience the term for pilgrim accommodation is albergue.
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
We are totally off topic, but it is making me anxious! When I walked, an Albergue was a Youth Hostel usually IYHA. That was in 1999. In my guide book (The excellent El Pais one all Spanish pilgrims use) pilgrim places were most definitely "Refugios". So there...
In the 2009 one for the Portuguese they are called "albergues".
Help, I'm finding this all most distressing! (That's so this doesn't get moved by the Mods - :wink:

Anyway, we should really get back to topic now.

If we weren't all crazy, we'd all go insane.
Jimmy Buffet, Margaritaville (no relation as far as I know to Warren)
 

Arn

Moderator
Staff member
Feels like old home week...

Just back from the CP and met some of the most focused, into life people from the Forum one could imagine; each of which have been an important part of this thread.

Initially, in Porto, I took Bieramar up on her offer of showing me the town and walking the next day on the first leg. She is insightful, honest and totally without a negative bone in her body. Her being misunderstood, initially, worried her, but didn't dampen her spirit. A beautiful lady inside and out.

Next was the Dona Fernanda and her hostel. A true jewel on the Caminho, she and her family are the salve that makes blisters go away, hurt feelings repair and a negative turn positive in short order.

My entrance into Santiago was to blaring trumpets, full choir and a swinging Botafumerio. Well, the Botafumerio did swing, but it was, a day later in Pontevedra, with Johnnie Walker on the organ and Steve accompanying. These gentlemen are truly masters when it comes to Church music. What an honor to meet with them and sit in the Basilica in Pontevedra to hear them play and sing. And, yes that green "aguardiente" can cure many maladies. Though at this time I can't remember which ones.

I must have recovered enough to hold an intelligent conversation with Ivar. At least it appeared intelligent as far as I can remember. Ivar truly believes in the members of the Forum being mature enough to be self-censoring, allowing the Mods and others to maintain things on an even keel.

Making a stop in Malaga, I was fortunate to meet up with Tracy and we completely cleaned out an "all you can eat" Mongolian/sushi bar. I know they lost money on me. Tracy is insightful and, at times I am sure" painfully honest. Again, if you don't want the answer, don't ask the question.

I guess my point is, the Forum brings all kinds of folks together with so much to offer. For the most part, we may never meet one another face to face and therefore we can be that avatar we choose to represent us. Some are completely "as shown", while others may be to a greater, or lesser extend not so much.

In the main, though, we are family... warts and all!

Some days are better than others but all days are precious.

Arn
 

sweetlee213

New Member
I am so glad to have found this particular thread. I myself suffer from social anxiety disorder which last year blew up into floating panic attacks. I would wake up and feel that fight or flight response for no apparent reason and I'd feel it for hours. I also suffer with depression. I'm 30 and I'm at a crossroads in my life. I was declined admission to grad school and now I have no idea what I want to do. I'm throwing all my focus into my upcoming Camino. My greatest fear though is what comes afterwards, when I come home to the noisy loneliness, to the crossroads where I have no idea which direction to turn. I'm afraid that I will not hear what the Camino is telling me because I want it too much. I'm afraid of not being able to 'just be,' as I frequently think far too much and end up thinking myself into a dark hole. A small part of me always expects a light bulb moment or some sort of breakthrough that will map my life out for me, when I go abroad. Perhaps that's why I keep getting disappointed. Perhaps you need to go into the Camino with no expectations.

I am taking my medication with me and I'm walking alone. I've experienced a lot of feelings of loneliness in my life and it's far more vivid being in the middle of a socially active city (Washington DC). I not only want to be alone to really get to know myself, but to learn how to strike up conversations with others. Mostly I want to do something that seems bigger than me, something that will make me proud of myself no matter how far I get. Wow, that felt good to get out! Thank you for starting this conversation!

Laura-Lee
 

sweetlee213

New Member
Furthermore, for those of us who suffer with mental illness, being about to dialogue about it is important. People who suffer usually keep it bottled up, keep it to themselves because we are either ashamed, don't want to bother anyone with our problems(that includes friends and family). Depression and anxiety is a very isolating disease and I feel trying to silence others who who need to speak is more detrimental than the advice and opinions of well-meaning pilgrims.

That said, people who do not suffer with a mental illness do not understand it. Depression is not about being really sad, anxiety is not simply being nervous, but I personally welcome any well-meaning words one might give me because despite my mental illness I can decide what is good advice and what is total bunk.
 

Alan Pearce

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones 2008, del Norte 2009, VdlP 2011, Ingles 2014, Camino de Madri 2015, Frances 2017
Hi Laura-lee

I am hesitant to reply to this thread as I have no expertise in advising people with mental issues, although I empathise with those who have depression as I have had a life-long experience of that. But your mention of going on the camino to look for answers prompts me to tell a story of my first camino. I met a girl who had grown up in 2 cultures, being swapped between parents, and never feeling loved, Her exact comment was that "There is no place in this world that I can call home". It was so sad, made worse by my inability to say anything that might have helped. It was made worse again by the fact that she had gone on the camino hoping to find some answers as to what she should do for the rest of her life, and after 4 weeks with only 1 week left to walk she was distraught that she had found nothing that would be of help when she got home.

I met her quite by accident in Santiago de Compostela, and my first question was "Did you find any answers?" She was definitely a lot brighter than when I had first met her, and told me that she had enough emotions and thoughts running around inside her head to ensure that it would take years to sort through them all. Nothing definitive, but a lot to work with\ [ a bit like every body else really :) ]

I can't offer a moral from this story that will provide you with a more meaningful camino, except to say that expecting the walk to provide answers to your life direction might be a bit too much to ask. But you will meet wonderful people that will win your heart, and that you never forget. I still pray for that girl I met, and I will pray also for you as you make your journey

buen camino

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 

julie

Active Member
sweetlee213 said:
A small part of me always expects a light bulb moment or some sort of breakthrough that will map my life out for me, when I go abroad. Perhaps that's why I keep getting disappointed. Perhaps you need to go into the Camino with no expectations.

Mostly I want to do something that seems bigger than me, something that will make me proud of myself no matter how far I get. Wow, that felt good to get out! Thank you for starting this conversation!
Hi Laura-Lee, I agree with you about the expectations. They can overwhelm us to the extent that we don't recognise the answers that we are given because they didn't come in the form we expected.

It is a daunting thing to travel overseas with the intention of walking across a country. Most of us have no idea whether we will actually reach Santiago. It doesn't even matter if we do. It's more important that we give it a go despite our fears.

Like Alan, I've met some wonderful people on the Camino. Some who have remained friends and others who briefly touched my life but made a lasting impression. I hope you have the same experience.

By the way Alan, from my experience, it's not always the answers we're seeking. Sometimes it's the questions.
 

dazzamac

Active Member
Hi Laura-Lee,

be aware that you may find neither questions nor answers when you walk. Be aware that you may come home and find yourself in exactly the same situation you left, albeit fitter and with a compostella. I say this not to discourage you, but to caution against the expectation that the Camino heals all wounds.

I have depression myself and at the minute the only time I leave my house is the hour-and-a-half or so that I'm training for my next Camino in July. On the Camino, we must carry what bring, that includes the over-weight backpacks and the heavy mind. We can jettison items from our backpacks relatively easily but shedding heavy thoughts is somewhat harder.

That said, I recognise the importance of long-term goals and targets. Planning, training and preparing for the Camino helps keep my mind occupied and the exercise and fresh air can't hurt either. This is my experience, but from what I've read, I think you realise that what works for me may not work for you.

Keep planning your trip but try and shed your expectations if you can. Open yourself up to the idea that unexpected things can and do happen and that your plans can and should change if circumstances dictate. I'm an atheist but I still try to live by the wisdom of this prayer.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
 

OLDER threads on this topic


Book your lodging here

Booking.com


Advertisement

Booking.com

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 12 1.4%
  • February

    Votes: 5 0.6%
  • March

    Votes: 37 4.4%
  • April

    Votes: 132 15.6%
  • May

    Votes: 203 23.9%
  • June

    Votes: 60 7.1%
  • July

    Votes: 17 2.0%
  • August

    Votes: 13 1.5%
  • September

    Votes: 252 29.7%
  • October

    Votes: 100 11.8%
  • November

    Votes: 12 1.4%
  • December

    Votes: 5 0.6%
Top