If Not for Anasazi

words | Gina Pellizzeri

Being a teenager in and of itself is no easy feat. Dealing with peer pressure, managing high school, relationships with friends and family, these can all be overwhelming enough, but when you combine that with battling anxiety, depression, and ADHD, life can begin to feel impossible. I’ve wrestled considerably over the years with trying to figure out who I am and who I want to be.

Anasazi Foundation

Over the past year, I had begun making choices and friends that were not healthy for me, and in the process, started isolating myself from my family. My older sister had previously gone through what some call “Tree-hab” about eight months earlier, with an organization called ANASAZI, which is a clinical wilderness therapy program. My family thought it would be good for me to go, but I swore that if they ever sent me, I’d run away. In fact, I was so disconnected at home, that I was making plans to do just that. As fate would have it, on February 4th, 2016, my Dad announced, on what I thought was my way to school, that I was going to ANASAZI, and I felt terrified.

When I first arrived on the “trail,” I was tired, scared, physically weak, and anxious. The trail staff, or “Trail Walkers” as they call them, that were with me were amazing! They experienced trail life in all of the same ways that us “Young Walkers” were. Having their support made it possible for me to learn and grow. As the weeks went by, I became stronger physically, but even more so, mentally and emotionally. I remember a time when we were hiking up a difficult Mesa. Fearful, as the rocks were sliding under my feet, I decided to give up. Just then, a Trail Walker came up behind me and said, “Fight or flight.” At that moment, I decided to fight. This experience taught me that when I’m anxious I can choose to channel my anxiety in positive, productive ways, and overcome.

It’s difficult to condense the profound experiences that I had during the 11 weeks that I spent on the trail. The most valuable lesson I learned was to see myself as the Creator sees me; beautiful, smart, funny, strong, loving, talented. This perspective helped me to truly love and accept myself, despite my weaknesses. My parents and I grew considerably during that time. Now, we can understand each other so much better and enjoy being together.  If it were not for ANASAZI, my life would not be as it is right now. I’m now deliberate in the choices I make, and even though I stumble, I know I can get up and continue to walk forward. I hope that ANASAZI Foundation can exist for generations to come, so that teens and young adults like my sister and I, can have an opportunity with their families, to have a new beginning.

I am Deep Emerald Pool, Guiding Light Rooted Heart, and I have spoken.