If you can’t run from your problems, try climbing from them!
When I’m climbing, the only thing that matters is my next move, where to put my hands or my feet. It’s an escape from the living nightmare that is PTSD, which trust me, is hard to escape.
When I first started climbing, I was in my first year of secondary school and was absolutely terrified of heights. During PE lessons we had 6 hours of climbing a year and by the end of year 9 I had conquered my fear of heights, thanks to my teacher’s perseverance! I spent the next two years of school looking forward to the next time we had climbing and getting up the wall as many times as I could in a lesson.
Once I’d left school I didn’t climb properly for a few years, until I started teaching it at my old school. This re-ignited my love of climbing, and although I wasn’t climbing much myself I was teaching it for a few hours every week.
It was in my final year of Uni when I really got back into climbing. I joined the mountaineering club and started going every week. Now I go as many times a week as I can!
It was after Christmas this year when my mental health reached an all-time low, when climbing was probably quite literally a life saver. Climbing requires high levels of concentration, which incorporates an element of mindfulness, being completely in the moment instead of thinking about the past or future, which is the perfect escape from the chaos that is my mind.
The confidence boost is huge when I reach the top of a tricky climb, or when I top a route that I previously couldn’t do. Sometimes I shock myself. Numerous times I’ve seen my friend do a particularly hard climb and I’ve completely written myself off. I haven’t planned to even attempt some routes until she’s encouraged me to, which I could not be more grateful for because even when I fail, I learn something, and it means I can improve my technique.
Climbing has taught me to face my fears, that being afraid is natural and that what is important is carrying on despite that fear. If we stopped when we were scared, we would never accomplish anything.
I know that if I put my mind to something, no matter how many attempts it takes, I will succeed