From Monday to Friday, the 35-year-old from the Bavarian town of Dingolfing works in a secure psychiatric unit. At the weekends, she and her daughter, Magdalena, head for the mountains, camping overnight whenever they can. Magdalena is entranced by the twinkling stars, while Sandra loves the freedom, peace, and quiet.
Not one for half measures, Sandra works shifts in a psychiatric hospital for people suffering from severe mental illness. “It’s my dream job. I’ve always wanted to help the most vulnerable people,” says the nurse. Today, she is completely devoted to her work with people who live on the margins of society.
It’s not an easy job. As she works in a secure unit, Sandra is locked in for eight hours a day. “It takes its toll,” she says. “You need to find a way to cope with it.” She seeks refuge high up in the mountains, where she can recharge her battery and let go.
“I started out with hiking, but I soon became more interested in climbing and mountaineering,” Sandra explains. The dolce vita in the via ferrata. It was the sense of freedom in the mountains that appealed to her.
“She loves sleeping out in the tent, as do I,” says Sandra. The eight-year-old spends weekdays with her grandparents, and the whole family sticks together through thick and thin. At the weekends, mother and daughter are inseparable, spending every minute in the great outdoors, where they feel completely at home.
“Freedom is the best thing in the world”
Once the mountains share their secrets with you, you never escape their lure. Of course, the right clothes and equipment are crucial. “It’s worth investing in good equipment,” Sandra stresses. The weather can change quickly, like life itself. It never gets boring up here.
With self-confidence and self-reliance, Sandra juggles work, leisure, and motherhood. And as always, she gives everything 100 percent. Her job as a psychiatric nurse no doubt explains her need for freedom and movement. She knows that her patients aren’t allowed outside.
“It really makes you appreciate your own freedom,” she acknowledges, adding that she can’t understand people who willingly sit around staring at their four walls.
When they started getting cabin fever during the lockdown, mother and daughter set up a tent in their living room. Creativity is a key part of their lives. “We zipped up the tent and imagined we were in the mountains,” Sandra explains. After all, freedom exists within our minds.
“No one can take the mountains away from me. And if we’re not allowed to head up there, we can just recreate the sense of freedom back at home”
When you ask Magdalena to choose between the sea and the mountains, her finger immediately points upwards.
Sandra was up here in the mountains when she had the idea of taking some patients out for a little hiking. Fresh air, some light exercise, and the colors of nature have major therapeutic effects, as multiple studies have proven. “There is so much joy and playfulness in nature,” Sandra says. “It can’t help but have a positive impact on humans.” It’s not yet clear whether she will be able to put this idea into action in the near future. But if anyone can do it, Sandra can. And what’s most striking is that even when she’s out in the mountains, she’s constantly thinking about her patients’ well-being.
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