The story of
Jesse Cody, depression,
& a 9,000 mile walk

An officer read me my rights
while a nurse stitched my
right hand back together
with a needle and thread.
-Jesse Cody

1

My left hand was handcuffed to the hospital bed. The shame coursing through my body was more painful than the needle being woven through my flesh. “I don’t want to go to jail,” I whimpered. “Maybe you should have considered that before you punched your hand through your girlfriend’s window,” he retorted, rightfully.

I didn't end up in prison, but I did end up in mental purgatory.

2

I can’t quite remember the first time thoughts of suicide crossed through my mind. There’s no one particular event that sparked them. Rather, they accumulated over time as my mental health gradually waned and my insecurity and anger went from sporadic to status quo. Depression had me in its gut-wrenching grip.

3

"I found my way to the Appalachian Trail because I had lost the will to live."

Years earlier, a friend had given me the Bill Bryson novel A Walk in the Woods to read, and it had made an impression on me. Something in me called to give it another read. After a few chapters, it dawned on me: I needed to go for a walk. A long walk. I needed to reckon with my inner turmoil. I needed to reprogram the voices in my head.

4

“It was that walk that saved my life."

The desire to hike the AT wasn’t some spiritual epiphany that arose from deep within my psyche. It wasn’t some crazy idea I came up with just to spice things up I found my way to the Appalachian Trail because I needed to feel that life was worth living. Because at that point, I had lost the will to live.

5

“Every challenge I overcame deepened my will to live."

The trail threw everything it had at me from the start. I began the journey in March, as a freezing rain fell. At night, my tent did little to insulate me when the temperature dropped below freezing. The straight climbs made my back and knees scream. The trail would cut me some slack when I earned it, not when I asked for it.

6

“Hiking through the wilderness didn't cure me. But it did save me.”

It didn’t erase the dark thoughts that had been taunting me. Rather it empowered me to honestly confront them and showed me that I had something to live for, that I was part of something bigger than myself. Hiking gave me a sense of purpose, along with a deep reverence for Mother Nature.

7

“From that once in a lifetime experience, came a once in a lifetime idea."

It's called Hike The Good Hike.

Hike the Good Hike is an ongoing project whose mission is "To lend a helping hand and improve the lives of those experiencing mental health challenges: one person, one authentic conversation, and one "hike" at a time."

The next step: YOU.
Solving mental health issues isn't a spectator sport.

Hike the Good Hike raises awareness about mental health and helps people cultivate a more positive mindset and lifestyle by inspiring them to take time in nature.

Here’s how to become a participant.

Here’s something else, Hike the Good Hike supports and contributes to a lot more than just hiking. With your help, we’ll be able to extend our reach, giving us the ability to fundraise and jumpstart new relationships with organizations that promote the benefits of wilderness therapy. It’s a big effort. But the human benefits are much bigger.

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This website does not provide medical advice. The information contained on this website is not intended to be a substitute for or to be relied upon as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This website is for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any health-related questions you may have. Need help immediately? National suicide prevention lifeline, 988 or LIVE ONLINE CHAT. If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the national suicide prevention lifeline.

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