• Lou

What Are Mobiles to Rocks and Mountains

Life goes on offline.

How I overcame my smartphone addiction, reconnected with my roots, and discovered the benefits nature has on my own mental health and wellbeing.

Glencoe: an iconic sight tourists from all over scramble out of packed Highland Tours buses to see, take snaps of, and tick off on their checklist of 'things to see in Scotland in a rush before the cruise ship sails off". These mountains were formed and sculpted through violent volcanic eruptions, then dusted off by massive glaciers. It has a gory history with the Glencoe Massacre following the Jacobite uprising. It is also the place where Fingal, the ancient Scottish warrior from Celtic mythology, made his home while his poet son, Ossian, found inspiration in the landscape.


Standing in the center point of Glencoe, swallowed up by mountains and waterfalls and knowing the stories of the stones, I felt like a penny at the bottom of a wishing well. It was intimidating. Scary, in fact. I was faced with the reality of how small mankind really is to rocks and mountains. All my problems now seemed so tiny; my worries insignificant, my existence just a mere pin-prick in the fabric of the universe - and my goodness, was it overwhelmingly delightful.

Falls of Glencoe, The Highlands

As someone who bickers with their anxiety on a daily basis like two siblings that never get along but have learned to live with eachother, this was a breath of fresh air. Literally, the air was so pure I couldn't think of anything else than the sheer scale and serenity of the Scottish landscape - no wonder it's used time and time again as a film location, appearing in Skyfall, Outlander, Outlaw King and most recently, Mary Queen of Scots.


The withdrawal was borderline ridiculous and drove the message clear that I had an all-out smartphone addiction.


It's also worth mentioning that this holiday was the longest amount of time I’ve spent without my phone in years so, of course, my self-esteem and happiness returned. I welcomed it with open arms like a friend I lost contact with for years. Staying in a log cabin surrounded by nature made me truly realise how much we rely on tech nowadays, especially for me, with my career in marketing and social media.


The withdrawal was borderline ridiculous and drove the message clear that I had an all-out smartphone (specifically social media) addiction. For someone working in this field as a career I was obnoxious enough to think I was immune to the risks. Yet I was craving it and loathed that I craved it at the same time, and I'm not alone in this: a 2018 study from the Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences in Vienna has looked specifically at social media withdrawal symptoms and found a disturbing similarity to the symptoms of a ‘come down’ from addictive substances.


Like a toxic friend, I was thriving now that I had cut-off from the insecurities it would throw at me daily, but then I also missed the attention it used to give me. Another reality had hit me, and again, it did wonders for my anxiety looking at my reliance of validation from social media with a fresh perspective. I used to judge my art and my photographs on the amount of likes it received. I was elated when I once received 300 likes on a post of my face but then it left a bitter aftertaste, I caught myself thinking "How am I going to match that now? Should I post more photos of myself? Am I even pretty enough for Instagram? Am I even interesting enough to put anything out on social media?"


It took me back to school, about how I was so insecure about my skinny frame, my "fat ass" and imperfect skin, and how I compared myself meticulously to the other girls. But then, I had a close-knit circle of mates who laughed at my jokes, who applauded at every show I performed in, and encouraged my writing; who would read every chapter of the book I wrote and even had favourite characters. I never finished it. Once Facebook, and eventually, Instagram grew to the terrifying level it is today, it become more and more daunting to put my voice and work out there.

Me (right) and my brother (left) holding Mollie the collie, with Grandma in her hilltop garden. Pembrokeshire, Wales

I think back to when I was a fearless child, way before I fell down the rabbit hole of comparing myself to others. I was lucky enough to be born in Shropshire, and often frequented the south west coast of Wales to visit my grandmother. I grew up surrounded by the woods and valleys, and at a time when we were at the edge of the full switch from ‘analog to digital’, where the Internet relied on dial-up and we relied on telephone boxes- not mobiles. I grew up with the appreciation of being out in nature (as much as I moaned about camping with my parents at the time) and not having to rely on social media to tell me how to live. It didn’t exist back then, to me anyway.


I still fight with my mental illness on a regular basis, but I've made it a priority to get outside where the air is purer and the wildflowers grow.


As a kid, I also always dreamed of trying to spot the Loch Ness Monster, walking around fairy glens, and finding the creepy Aleister Crowley’s house in the woods where the "rock star" lived (article coming soon), so this time away really was a childhood dream come true. There I was stood, engulfed in the beauty of nature and soaking up the history and mystery of the majestic mountains, and in that moment I reconnected with my roots.


Of course I still fight with my mental illness on a regular basis, but I've made it a priority to get outside where the air is purer and the wildflowers grow, and that niggling voice of self-loathing gets quieter and quieter with the sounds of birdsong. There's a reason NHS Shetland have started prescribing time in nature, including rambling and birdwatching, to patients suffering with chronic and mental illnesses.


Thus, birthed the idea of Lou Noir: the name combines my roots (my nickname Lou) and my love of the dark and mysterious; of places hidden in the shadows. My website is a place that encompasses this idea that getting out in nature and caring for nature can indeed contribute to one's wellbeing, with my adventures exploring my love of folklore, myths and legends. I will also be unearthing hidden sites and venturing off the beaten track for like-minded explorers.


I hope you enjoy my updates and let me know if there's anywhere you'd like to see me visit next! Please note - I am not a mental health practitioner, and can only speak from my own experience with my own mental illness. Mother Nature will not replace your need for prescriptions given by your GP or mental health practitioner. For more information on how you can access mental health facilities, please click here.

©2020 by Lou Noir