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Age: 25

Location: Kent

Trigger Warnings: Self-harm and suicide

Hi I'm Maisie [aka. Mazza or mazz], I'm 25 years old and started climbing roughly about 2 to 3 years ago. Ever since I was a teenager I've always struggled with my mental health. I was diagnosed with autism and ADHD at a very young age, so growing up in such a chaotic world definitely had its challenges. When I was at uni my mental health was at its worst, my moods were all over the place and I couldn't help but think I was worthless and I had nothing to live for. I remember nearly passing out from overheating when wearing long sleeve clothing in my dance classes so no one could see my cuts on my arm.

I unfortunately lost my best friend in my 3rd year of uni which took a huge toll on my mental health. I didn't eat for weeks, I made reckless decisions that could have ended my life. In and out of hospitals, covering all the mirrors in my flat, having to lock the sharps draw. I felt incapable of keeping myself safe. I also was having a lot body and gender dysmorphia, hating myself for wanting to dress masculine, forcing femininity on myself and if I didn't meet a certain standard I would scold myself. Damn, I put so much pressure on myself.

I started therapy for bpd (borderline personality disorder) round about 2022. About a year before therapy I started climbing as well, and my god what a transformation it has been. Of course therapy has helped a lot but I genuinely feel like climbing and the community that comes with it has saved my life. When it's just me and the wall, I forget about everything that overwhelms me.

Outdoor sport climbing is my favourite, especially when you have a perfect ledge to sit on at the end of the climb. While I climb I think "I really need to be careful, I could really injure myself or worse if I took a bad fall". Wow. I really said that to myself. I really valued my life in these moments, 16 to 23 year old Mazza could neverrrrr.

I cant forget to talk about the community. Meeting so many different people with similar stories or reasons for climbing, it's become a safe place for me. I've made so many friends and gone on so many exciting trips, I really sit there and think, if I had lost my life I would have missed out on all of this. I'm not crying you are. Now I look in the mirror and show love to myself, embracing my changes, being comfortable in myself, presenting how i want to. I now present as genderfluid and embrace my femininity and masculinity.

Going to climbing and dressing how i want, not comparing myself to others but giving support and receiving it. I'm finally comfortable to climb in a t-shirt and have my scars on show, embracing them, a reminder to keep getting stronger, and maybe I'll get that 7a boulder this year. Climbing saved my life, and I hope it keeps saving me for many more years to come.


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