To die without making a single sound.
I will not affect another’s life with my death
And I will disappear. I will be lost. Never to be found -Diary entry 21st November 2017
Before I start this blog post, I would like to point out that all photos in this post are from a later date, when I decided to go back – the weather was not as beautiful nor as clear as the first time I went, but nonetheless, they give you a better idea of what surrounded me.
November 22nd 2017
I went missing. It was the day I had given up, I tried to end my life multiple times, but I didn’t have it in me. Then I thought I would let nature do the dirty work. Going into the bush, getting lost, not having food, being in the wilderness would take care of it all.
Never had I hiked alone and honestly I’ve always been too scared to even walk alone in the dark. But that day I needed to do something. I impulsively acted on my emotions.
I grabbed a backpack and took my togs and towel (I wanted to swim) and a bottle of water for my antidepressants, which I also took with me. There was a first aid kit too (It was habit to take this on hikes).
After running to my car, I drove recklessly to the nearest bush I knew of – the Kaimai Ranges. Lindemann Road was where I found an entry into the bush and without thinking twice or having a clue where I was going, I started to walk. All I knew was I had no intention of coming out of the Kaimai Ranges. And if I did, it wouldn’t be alive.
The Kaimai Ranges
In the first hour of walking, I walked off the track multiple times trying to find the perfect place to disappear from the world, forever.
Whenever I heard the serenading of birds or saw an extravagant tree, I would rest. Sleeping among the trees, surrounded by nature, was the most peaceful feeling. I felt like I had finally found a place where I felt accepted and had a sense of belonging. This feeling was too good to pass, it enticed me to stay alive for another day, to do what made my soul feel at peace, then I would feel ready to disappear.
I had been walking for hours, and was yet to see another soul. I heard the sounds of animals, walked through spider-webs and was entertained by the birds. At one point I could swear I was already in another life.
It was only at the top of the hill where I felt a sense of pride and achievement. There I was, surrounded by so much beauty. The view from the top made me realise how small we are as human beings, and how small our problem are in comparison. Being away from technology, people or expectations was the best feeling I had ever experienced.
While trying to fathom all my thoughts, I found a sign that stated Waitawheta hut was 2 hours away. I could not have been happier. Part of me was ready to live like this for the rest of my life. All I needed was to disappear from people but not the world.
Walking to Waitawheta
The walk down to the hut was absurd, there were fallen trees everywhere I looked. There were no signs to show me I was going the right way, but I kept walking. Until I heard a distant sound of a river. As soon as I found an opening, I took the opportunity to explore.There was a spectacular rock big enough to lay on in the sun. it was a perfect looking bed. I let the sound of the river serenade me to sleep.
The warmth of the sun that heated both the rock and I was enough, I didn’t have a thought in my mind. I was free from the shackles life had placed upon me. There was no more judgment, no expectations, no reputation. No longer was anything imposed on me. I was me.
I thought I had seen so much beauty and heard so much goodness in nature, until I found myself standing in front of a glorious waterfall. It was freezing cold but it was alluring. Fresh water is undoubtedly the best type of swimming. With not a thought in my mind, I started to undress. Because I had not seen a single soul around – I jumped right in. It was only a few seconds before I was numb, but also refreshed. I did the hell I wanted, there was no one to control my actions and I finally felt in control of my life.
Not long of a walk later, I found a sign that I thought I’d never see. “Waitawheta Hut 5 minutes.”
I walked as fast as possible, breaking into a run. When I reached the hut, I didn’t feel like I was alive. It felt like I was in heaven or dreaming. There I was in the bush that I knew nothing about and not only was I greeted by natures best work, but this hut. This massive hut that looked like it had all I needed to live another day.
Walking in, there were two bags, but no beings around. God knows how long I had been walking, but the exhaustion hit me and I was asleep in seconds. Waking up, I remember feeling confused. It had not yet hit me what I had done. My anxiety started to show itself, full blast. How was I to explain myself when I was only carrying a bag with a towel.
There were two strangers, the kindest souls. I told both of them about my true intentions and to my suprise, they were accepting. They asked me to join them to play cards, admiring the glow worms and then spend the night star-gazing. The night sky was clear, the stars were in their millions and the glow worms were a reminder of how beautiful the world is. They took care of me. We had hot chocolates and laughed until the end of the night. I was far from reality and all the pain that came with it.
While getting ready to fall asleep, Sami entered my room with a hardcover book in her hand. She expressed how worried she was for me. A stranger who she had only met. Her intentions were so pure. The book she gave me to read that night was The Untethered Soul. She felt like it could help me and it did.
23rd November 2017
The next morning I read a third of this book. It changed me. All the right words were written. It felt like everything that happened to this point was meant to be. The book talked about how I was not my depression. I am not the toxic thoughts in my head, but instead I was something bigger than all this. My consciousness. It was the reason I no longer wanted to disappear. I felt like depression was taking over me, but only because I was letting it. The awful things people had said about me and my depression stopped meaning as much as it did.
That morning, the sun was shining, the birds chirping and for the first time, I was not longer tense. I filled in the hut book hoping I would come back to it in the future and reflect.
James and Sami offered me their left over food and headed off to Woodland Road. Knowing we were going to different tracks, I decided to keep reading before I started the first day of my new life. After an hour or so, I headed off. I was full of energy and ready to tackle the real world.
Nothing looked familiar but I kept walking, I had taken a wrong turn. Not long after, I bumped into the pair from the hut. Who offered to take me to my car at the end of the track. So I carried on trekking with them. We chatted for hours, until I saw right in front of me what I had most feared.
Right in front of us, wearing fluorescent clothing stood three people. They greeted us, then one of them looked me straight in the eyes and said “you must be Ola”. My nausea was overwhelming, my anxiety unbearable and I was now to suffer the consequences.
There were cars of friends and family as well as media and police waiting out on the road. I was given the choice to see them or not. At first I felt like I would be the worst person if I had said no. So I agreed.
My anxiety worsened, the more I thought about what I had done and what I had put people through, the worse I felt. The feeling of guilt took over me. I changed my mind and told search and rescue I couldn’t face the real world.
Instead, police escorted me to the station. After explaining my actions, my bag was searched. I sat there and cried. Then I was told about the extent of people that had called about me. I felt guilt, shame and all I could think about was my reputation and what people were going to think. Police then drove me to my bosses place, where the crisis team visited.
I had no knowledge of everything that was happening outside the Kaimais, but the more I found out, the more I felt like there was a reason I needed to be in there.
The Following Weeks
The following weeks were probably the hardest weeks I’ve had to endure. Everyone that knew me, had found out about my depression and that was difficult for me to fathom. It was all out in the open. That happy bubbly girl was suicidal. The over-thinking and judgement haunted me.
I regret turning on my phone on. Although most messages were expressing fear and worry, some were calls from people who have me blocked on social media platforms, some were blame. As if my actions were to hurt everyone else. It was not about me it was about them.
Being told of how many people came down made me feel guilt and shame. It did not help with my healing. Many think I should have felt loved but I felt that many of those who came down, were not genuine in their intentions.
That is how I felt. Those were the emotions running through me. People had not cared for years. They had not messaged or called or bothered with checking up on me. So why now? You may never talk to me or see me ever again, so why does it matter if I am not on this earth?
Written in the stars
After recollecting stories from my boss and the search team, I felt like the two days were scripted. So much could have gone wrong and honestly it could have meant I would not be here writing this for you to read.
I work as an asset engineer who looks after the roads in Bay of Plenty. In 2017 I spent months inspecting every local road off State-highway 2 and the rest of the network with a colleague. When my boss found out about my disappearance, she rushed to work and informed that same colleague and asked if he knew where I would be, or if I had taken fancy to any specific road. He gave her the name of two roads – Lindemann Road (the street I went to) and Woodland Road (the street I came out of) .
When this information was given, my boss’s husband drove to Lindemann Road, found my car and started running. He would have reached me if he had taken the right turn at the top of the hill. He was never meant to find me. I would have never experienced what I did if he did.
When the search teams started searching, dogs had led them off the track left and right, multiple times. This caused the search team to not trust the dogs. However, that’s exactly how I walked.
James and Sami were never meant to walk toWaitawheta hut, the day they had gone to the Kaimais, the track they intended on doing was closed due to storm damages. They made the decision to go to Waitawheta instead.
The walk to the hut from Lindemann is estimated to have taken me 7-8 hours, had I not taken the wrong turn the next day, I would have been walking into nightfall.
Police were notified that I was still alive from the hut book I had signed.
Had the weather been rubbish, it could have all gone sour.
One of the ladies that was in the search and rescue team who found me sent me sunflowers that evening and kept in contact, she also came with me to the police questioning to make sure I had someone with me. She made sure I was handling everything okay and is now one of my best friends in Tauranga. Kathy is one of the most wonderful human beings. Her and her husband are the gems that came out of a horrible situation.
Sami and I keep in touch. She has become a great friend and support. I don’t think I could thank her enough for her words and for carrying such a powerful book with her.
When I talk about this day, I usually refer to it as the day I came out of the bush. The bush taught me so much and I have held it close to my heart. Hiking alone has been one of the most powerful things I have been able to do for my self and my soul. There is so much beauty in silence, especially when you are surrounded by the most beautiful creations.
I am lucky that I have found a safe place. There are many people who struggle to find somewhere they feel completely at peace.
If you know someone going through a tough time, or struggling with being alive. I urge you to message them now. Remind them how much you care, do something nice for them. Anything to remind them that there is still good in this world.