In 2010 I lost my father, which was a sudden loss. I struggled to cope, and spiralled into a state of depression. I suffered with this for the next 7 years. During this time, I also faced the difficult task of renovating my old family home. It was at the completion of this that I was hit with even more drama. My girlfriend of 10 years had met someone else on holiday. I was about to face the sale of my family home and purchase a home with my then girlfriend but my relationship came to an end, we stopped the purchase of the house, and I was left to move back to my mothers.
It was during this time that I became severely depressed, anxious and at points suicidal. I felt like my life was over. I couldn’t see any future. My self-esteem was rock bottom, my anxiety sky high.
In the spring of 2016 my friend suggested I come climb with him at a climbing hall. I was scared of heights and had refused the offer previously on more then one occasion. But that day I felt like I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I wanted to face my fear head on and with it my anxiety also. That day changed my life. I was hooked. The clarity it gave me eroded my anxiety, it made my issues disappear. For those few hours I wasn’t thinking about my life or my problems, I was focused on one thing - that wall. I was feeling things I hadn’t for years. I was happy, exhilarated, excited, but most of all care free. This freedom and self-belief that was achieved by climbing a wall baffled me, but I loved it.
I continued to go, bought my own shoes, harness, and jumped off the cliff into the climbing world. I haven’t looked back since. Climbing has taught me so much and made me think so differently and only for the better. It has given me a hobby, a focus, and drive to achieve things. It’s helped me overcome fear. It gave me back my self-esteem and gave me skills to control my anxiety.
It also gave me a family. The climbing community! I’ve never met so many wonderful, friendly, helpful, and supportive people, and this helped more then anything. Having the support of people around you, whether it be to help you climb, or someone to talk to: I’ve never felt so welcome, and no longer feel alone. Climbing took over my life instead of me taking my life, and I will always look back on that day when I first climbed as a turning point in my life.
As I write this I’m in Albarracin, Spain, enjoying the company of those beautiful climbers and stunning sandstone, experiencing the world once again in a happy mind frame, making sure I always appreciate the simple things.