The first weeks were cold, wet and dark by 6.p.m. At night it was so cold I couldn't sleep because my nose was frozen. Even shuffling my ever willing Bedlington Terrier, Mogs, into my sleeping bag didn't work. Once the last embers of the fire had died out I was awake and shivering again.
In the space of a few weeks the mud and fast flowing river changed almost overnight to blazing sunshine and high humidity. As temperatures soared to over 40 degrees the mozzies and biting flies made their presence known - especially if you sought shade under the trees. Interestingly Mogs spent her time eating the tips off the plantain plant which I later discovered was a natural antihistamine antidote to bites. It could not possibly be learned behaviour as she had been with me since a tiny pup so it had to be either an innate inherited knowledge or an ability to smell some component of antihistamine - either way flipping marvellous.
I did not realise until this point that I was a total IT junkie. I was finding excuses within myself to come down the mountain and drive an hour to the nearest village where of course I needed vital life saving resources such as a frothy coffee and internet access. Once I had my fix and returned I still suffered a mild level of on-going anxiety that I was missing out on something very important and dreadful things might happen if I was not online.
A unexpected effect of this self imposed isolation was that the less I interacted with others, the less I wanted to. My grandmother was a recluse spending more time gardening than with any human companion, my son has similar hermit tendencies. It made me question in anthropological terms the potential benefits of imposed isolation to long term survival - not being open to infectious diseases or having to feed and protect others thereby wasting scarce resources are examples.
In psychological terms I am fully aware that being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) often leads to isolation as those who are HSP can become overloaded to the point of distress by interacting with others. Unless you learn how to protect yourself from negative energy, those who are HSP can become distinctly unwell suffering from conditions such as depression, ME, and a range of unexplained ill health.
The academic work in HSP is jumping forward in leaps and bounds and the best part is it is a much nicer label than anxiety disorder, depressive or yuppy flu amongst other such terms. It also means that we are now beginning to understand this way of being so that appropriate support and advice can be provided. Being a HSP has helped me in my career but it has also been a major hindrance when I have been forced to work with people who drained my very essence. Being isolated helped me understand my need to avoid so many social situations and only being able to spend minimal time in certain people's space.
Spending an extended amount of time amongst nature in all its glory has helped deepen my understanding of the senses and how to help others through sensory based experiences. However the major insights occurred when I came back to concrete civilisation. I will write about that in my next blog.