Editor’s note: Throughout October, our #hikeOctober guest writers share what hiking means in their lives.
It’s not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves. -Sir Edmund Hillary
I often feel like I’m moments away from losing my mind. As a child I watched my grandmother lose touch with reality and somehow I knew I would go the same way. In a world that fears what it does not understand, we simply never talk about mental illness for fear of being shunned. I think that most who suffer, still do so silently and alone. Through years of work and education the stigma is starting fade, but we still have work to do. My name is Odie and I’m as crazy as the Loons in the ponds of southern Maine.
Hiking has truly saved my life, or at least given me one worth living. Being a Veteran myself I’m sensitive to the fact there are thousands of Vets who have found the mountains to be the place where healing can begin. The silence of the wilderness has taught me to quiet my mind. The hiking community has reinforced that I am not alone. And the views have given me a window into my own soul. I hike for mental health.
The world must begin to understand mental illness if we are ever going to eliminate the stigma. We must hike for our own mental health, and we must give to mental health research. Your donations are paving the way for people who are imprisoned in their minds and homes to recover and be accepted. So in honor of my grandmother, I ask that you hike for your own well being and that you give, so that through research we can begin to help those who are suffering and maybe one day end the stigma and create a trail to recovery. HIKERS HIKE!!!
– Matthew Odie Norman
Click here to learn more about #hikeOctober, an annual program to raise awareness of the challenges of mental illness, fund mental health research and conserve wilderness trails. #hikeOctober is free to join, open to hikers with all experience levels, and an easy way to have your walk in the woods, or around the block, make an impact!
To see more of Odie’s passion for re-connecting hikers after the trail, please visit and support The Hiker Yearbook. You won’t regret it.