This Health Transformation Isn't Your Classic 'Before and After'
By Sophia Hatzis | Digital Content Producer
Caroline Wilson's health transformation probably isn't like the ones you've heard before. It's not about drastic weight loss. It's not about glossy before and after photos. But Caroline's story is one that deserves, and needs, to be told.
In 2007, Caroline was diagnosed with Major Depressive and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. For months she couldn't function or work. Her panic disorder meant she was scared of heights, flying in planes, driving her car, and crossing bridges.
Trek Training with Wild Women brought all her fears together. But it was something she wanted to try. Every session, she moved further out of her comfort zone. Some days, her hands would shake uncontrollably as she drove across Roseville Bridge to get to training. Some days she would get panic attacks on the trail. But slowly things started to get better.
Caroline found chatting to the women at Trek Training helped take her mind of her anxieties.
"Feeling part of a community is really important for mental health," she says.
Since joining Wild Women, Caroline's mental health has transformed. Her late 40s and 50s have been the best years of her life. She prioritises exercise and wants to prove to her kids that recovery is possible. Just a few years ago, she was terrified of getting into a car. This year, she hiked at altitude in Nepal for the first time.
Q: What do you love most about being a Wild Woman?
I love the community, companionship, exercise, and being outdoors. The support and inclusiveness of the Wild Women coaches and my fellow hikers is wonderful and to be cherished.
What's the best hike you've ever done and what made it so epic?
The best hike I've done was my first trip with Wild Women to Jatbula in the Northern Territory. It was epic because there were so many firsts on this trip. It was the first time I had flown on my own for 16 years, the first time I carried a full pack and camped in the wilderness. It was the first time I swam in pristine waterholes in the wild, dried my clothes on the hot rocks and lay down at night to watch the stars.
It was also the first time I learned to cope with being well outside my comfort zone.
Do you think adventures are an important part of life? Why?
Adventures are good for your physical and mental health. They make you happier and last longer than any material object. I need all the help I can get with those happy hormones, so bring on those adventures! John Cleese once said, ‘If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play!' I love playing in the bush with my Wild Women.
What's the best hiking advice you've ever been given?
Take trekking poles as they have many uses. Apart from helping reduce pressure on your knees and ankles, they also providing extra stability with water crossings, act as a first aid splint or a mini washing line. They help you deal with wild creatures on the track! You can clear spider webs off trails, you can throw the poles at snakes to move them off the path, you can bang them together to get lazy cows moving along. You can also use them for many exercises and stretching.
What advice would you give to beginners who think it sounds too hard to do Coastrek or a Wild Women On Top trek?
To any newbie, I would say take baby steps, set goals, be persistent and be kind to yourself. Until you try, you don’t know what you can’t do!
I love the African proverb, ‘If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together'.