Fran

Climbing and how it ended up saving my life.

‘There is nothing else apart from that hold above you.’

Climbing had gotten into my life nearly three years ago and from the very beginning it has always figuratively represented my recovery journey. I heard about climbing from a friend in high school. I wanted to give it a try, but people around me made me feel like there was no way I would have been able to do it as a sport. I kept wishing to give it a try, but my community around me was a lot more interested in making me feel beautiful rather than powerful. I thought getting big muscles in my back and arms would have looked ridiculous on me and therefore, declined the opportunities a few times.

Then life got harder, busier, and all I was focused on was making it out of uni with a good degree and travelling as much as I could to improve the five languages I was studying. When I finished uni, I decided to take a gap year to try to grasp what I wanted to be doing as a career, and all the certainties I had, vanished away because I was disable and couldn’t really become interpreter. So when I decided to study something else, something different, my decision was very close to put all my eggs in a basket and hoping that this way, this time, I would have ended up with a job I loved doing and a very happy career ahead of me.

Between my first degree and the second, I started experiencing a loss of confidence, self-esteem issues, depression, and body dysmorphia, all leading to myself binging on comfort food. Everything hit me so hard that within months I stopped having regular periods, had very bad skin, and gained a lot of weight. I just wasn’t happy. I felt trapped.

So when the chance to try climbing (actually, bouldering) came up, I took it. I went for it as committed as I could. There was no way that this time I would have let my circumstances dictate what was good or bad for me. Not gonna lie, it didn’t feel easy, relaxing or accommodating. Climbing was absolutely kicking my ass and there were days, when I felt super weak, that I was very close to giving up. But I didn’t. Wanna know why? Because in the precise moment of throwing for a hold, the hold above me was the only thing in my mind. There wasn’t me with all of my thousands of issues on the wall. There wasn’t a girl who was very close to give up on life. There was just a girl, like many other girls in the world, trying to climb something. Nothing like it has ever felt the way climbing does.

Like in life, I am scared, confused, annoyed, angry, tired, committed all the time. But exactly like in life, if I hadn’t had kept going a little further everyday, if I hadn’t ripped my skin off a few times for the sake of building a thicker one underneath, if it hadn’t been for all the time I’ve fallen clumsily on the mat and stood up again and tried, well, if it wasn’t for all of that, I believe I would not be here today.

My recovery journey feels like it is never really coming to a real end. Everyday I’m learning new things, and sometimes I get very hopeless about it. But then I go climbing, and a lead route kicks my ass and I think ‘maybe it’s okay feeling like you’re never gonna stop learning.’ And all I know is that if I had ever stopped when it got too hard, I would have never made any progress.

#mentalhealthawarenessweek #bodyconfidence #wevegotyouspotted

© 2018 Climb Alongside Suicide and Mental Health
© 2019 Climb Alongside Mental Health