I'll start by saying I see no reason why they should be mutually exclusive. Depression can sometimes be the most efficient mode to a greater more mature self awareness.
But either way, the connection is not as important as this: Any way it happens to be, the feeling of wanting to get away, sit on a green mountain and just stare at nature IS a confirmation of an attainment of a stage in life where you're in need of a deeper introspection of things and crave more genuine reflections and interactions with not just same old people and zombies and machines that we come in contact with every single day, but with the sublime vitality of nature herself.
It's an unequivocal sign that you're tired of the viccistides and fickleness of everyday toil and anxiety, and just want to retreat--to a place where you could be alone with yourself, with your mind, with nature, and finally achieve that ever elusive goal of making all three one and the same.
Again like I said, this might very well be depression but it is, nonetheless, if not the more genuine more mature self awarness you speak of, still a remarkably clear pathway to it.
Or maybe it's not even a case of genuine self-awareness or depression, but just a symptom of tiredness. Tiredness from noise. And you just want to be away from it all; be in a place where there is literally no noise. And what better place for this than at the top of a really green mountain. All souls, in fact, maturely self-aware of not, depressed or not, yearn for this.
Or maybe it's just a case of being tired of decadence or even just tired of monotonousness of the city, either way I would say that the feeling of wanting to get away, sit on a green mountain and just stare at nature IS a damn nice and important feeling.
I know also of a few literary geniuses who would agree with me on this. Top of that list, of course, is Henry David Thoreau. All of Thoreau's books are mainly about nature, and the importance of walking about in nature andjust exploring around nature's splendour and experiencing the soul-emancipating sensation that comes from this act. According to Thoreau, walking around for miles in the wild is not an act of craziness, it is the act of being sedantary or going to the same workplace and doing the same things over and over again that is the greatest act of craziness.
And I can't say I disagree much.
Another genius who recognized the beauty of this act was John Keats, and the romanticists as a whole. In fact the distinction between self-awareness and depression you mentioned reminds me of Ode on Melancholy. Depressed self awareness sometimes are the most important kind.
Keats understood the Importance of melancholy. So did Wordsworth and Thoreau and Emerson and co. Thoreau wasn't depressed, that I can say, but he still did it. So his might be a case of one of the well-defined, highest form of self-awareness. Keats was probably depressed, but he was still genuinely self-aware. Which goes to prove the inter-relativity of the two.
So in conclusion I'd say to me it could very well be a little bit of both. And beautifully so too!
Cheers and have a nice day.
I guess it will depend on the reasons for wanting to get away. After I delivered final papers at the end of quarters or semesters, I felt a need to just drive amid cornfields in the Midwest roads until it was dark, just looking around, noticing the changes of light and temperature, feeling the wind, the smells, the noises. A calmed reminder that all the abstractions and theorizations we did in classes had actually a real manifestation.
Of course, more than once I also ended up in a park looking at trees and squirrels without actually seeing them, out of frustration because personal or academic problems.
The contemplation of nature, in any case is a sign of self-awareness. It is different when someone decides to, say, lock themselves in their rooms and talk to nobody.
As @rasamuel pointed out, philosophers and literary geniuses have already written extensively about the benefits of nature contemplation; a few of them even walking the walk to extremes that very few of us would dare.
Thus, whether the retreat is caused by depression or just by an urge to get closer to nature or to our inner selves, nothing bad can come out of that. It is very difficult for someone who is depressed not to feel any better after being in intimate contact with nature, a river, mountain, valley, sea, forest, even desert places, as Robert Frost once wrote about, remind us of our inner ecosystems and by sensing how those from nature flow we can re-channel our own.
There is nothing wrong with the need of solitude. As a matter of fact, in this hectic, crowded, over-stimulating and information saturating world we live in, it should be required by law that we disconnect periodically to reconcile with nature. :)
I totally get this. The feeling of wanting to ju St get away from it all. The noise, people, modern day lifestyle. Just sometime to blow off some major steam. I get this.
You need to know its not depression. If for anything, its you fighting the occurrence of depression by replying on nature. Regaining self-awareness and calm. A time to reflect on why its worth it to be happy and appreciate the little things.
Its not really a sign of maturity but a sign that shows you, your health and mental well-being matters.